Small Debt Recovery – Civil Debt (Procedures) Act 2015


What is Civil Debt (Procedures) Act 2015?

The Civil Debt (Procedures) Act 2015 has been designed to make it easier to collect from people who are unwilling to pay “small debts”. The Act was initially developed to be used with respect to Irish Water but it will have wider relevance (see below).

Who is it relevant to?

The Act is intended to be equally accessible to individuals, sole traders and businesses. The Act is not intended to be available to banks and other financial institutions.

How much is a “small debt”?

Any amount between €500 and €4,000 will be considered a “small debt” for the purpose of the Act. The idea is the Act will provide a clear legal framework around the collection of such sums.

How does it work?

A legal application would be made to court to allow for the “small debt” to be collected by way of an attachment to a person’s income, be it their salary and/or their social welfare receipts. It is interesting to consider the impact the Act may have on the rental sector. It’s worth noting for example, where rent allowance recipients do not pay rent allowances to their landlord, the landlord could seek an attached order and have the allowance paid directly to him/her.

Will it be effective?

The intention is that where attachment order is put on a salary, an employer will have a legal obligation to adhere to the order or else will become liable for the debt. In those circumstances the incentive to comply with the orders is very high. That said, at November 2015, the legislation has not yet come into effect so until we have statistics it is difficult to tangibly measure effectiveness at this point.

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