I don’t think the new Personal Insolvency Act 2012 will lead to an upsurge in Irish bankruptcies. Although the Act, when finally commenced, will allow people undergo a 3-year bankruptcy instead of five years at present, the reason I don’t think there’ll be much change is, last year, when justice minister Alan Shatter lowered the bankruptcy period from 12 years to five, there was no noticeable increase in bankruptcies.
We learned this week that in 2012, a total of 35 people were declared bankrupt in Ireland. That compares with 33 in 2011 and 29 in 2012. We learned from a Freedom of Information request to the UK Insolvency Service in February 2013 that at least 61 Irish people were declared bankrupt in the UK in 2012, and that is likely to be an underestimate as it depends on Irish bankrupts in the UK including an Irish address in their application and specifically including “Ireland” in their address.
We also learned this week that there are 143 people in Ireland that are still not discharged from bankruptcy.
There were nearly 60,000 bankruptcies in the UK in 2010, the last full year for which the UK Insolvency Service has published statistics. In Northern Ireland, which has a population of 1.8m compared to 4.7m here, there were 2,300 bankruptcies in 2010.
It looks as if, under the new Personal Insolvency Act 2012, there will still be very few bankruptcies in Ireland – if there wasn’t a surge when the bankruptcy period fell seven years from 12 to five last year, there is unlikely to be a surge this year when it falls from five to three. Not when you can obtain a bankruptcy over 12 months on easier terms in the UK.
These are the parliamentary questions and response which revealed the statistics this week.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of individuals adjudged bankrupt in the State in each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the overall number of individuals in the State whose bankruptcy has not yet been discharged.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter: As the Deputy may be aware, ahead of drafting the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, I introduced a number of amendments to the existing bankruptcy regime in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 providing for the reduction of the application period to the court for discharge from bankruptcy from 12 years to 5 years, subject to the same conditions, and for the automatic discharge of bankruptcies on the twelfth anniversary of the bankruptcy adjudication order. The new Personal Insolvency Act 2012 continues the reform of the Bankruptcy Act 1988 and, when commenced, will provide for an automatic discharge from bankruptcy, subject to certain conditions, after 3 years in place of the current 12 years.
The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service and have been informed that 143 bankrupt persons remain undischarged. The number of adjudications in the period from 2010 to 2012 were as follows:
Year Number of persons adjudicated bankrupt