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New bankrupcy law a lifeline for money troubled

Last update - Sunday, December 15, 2013, 18:18 By Chinedu Onyejelem

Nigerians at a recent seminar in Blanchardstown on the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 learned how those in financial difficulties could use it as a lifeline.

Speaking at the event hosted by the Association of Nigerian Professionals in Ireland (ANPI), barrister and commercial mediator Brian Walker said anyone who genuinely cannot pay their debts should consider applying for bankruptcy protection under the act.
The Personal Insolvency Act, which was passed into law on 26 December last year but only took effect from 2 December this year, provides help for borrowers who cannot meet their contractual payments via different options to enable them to take control of their financial situation after a given period.
The new act reduces the duration of bankruptcy from 12 to three years and provides for three options – Debt Relief Notices, Debt Settlement Arrangements and Personal Insolvency Arrangements – for debtors.
According to Walker, in order to be declared bankrupt, an individual needs to owe €20,000 or more that they cannot pay. For those who owe a lesser amount, they can apply to the courts through the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) or other approved intermediaries for a Debt Relief Notice (DRN).
In a Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA), the debtor and the creditor to an unsecured debt agree to an arrangement made by personal insolvency practitioner and signed off by the court. There is no limit to the amount.
A Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is similar in practice to a DSA but with debt secured to a limit of €3m and no limit on the amount of unsecured debts.
Responding to questions from the audience, Walker urged debtors to consider whether bankruptcy will be to their advantage.
ANPI president Jide Afolayan said the association organised the seminar to educate members of the public who may not be aware of the relevant legislation.

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