klaz Registered User

Darragh29 said:
Hi All,

I've started writing a book that will tell the story of people who have been sent to prison for a debt in Ireland, in particular any people who have been affected by the current economic crisis. I'm amazed that we have the richest people in the country being bailed out with taxpayers money and I suspect that at the same time, we are sending some of the poorest people to prison for a debt.

I'm looking to make contact with people who have been imprisoned for a debt in Ireland and also people who are possibly facing the prospect of a jail sentence due to a debt owed. I'm looking to meet with anyone who would like to tell their story, obviously all information given will be treated in the strictest of confidence, I'm planning on giving any people that I use as source material, pseudonoms and changing their location for the purposes of fully protecting their identity, etc...

If anyone can point me in the direction of people facing the prospect of jail time for a debt or anyone who has served a sentence, please feel free to PM me...

The book will be called, "Debt of Society" and will hopefully be published next year...

Thanks for any help in advance...


Just in regards to "other" debts... I've worked in "Debt Recovery" and credit Control for over 13 years. You would be amazed at the number of people who refuse to read the small print or even the contract before signing up to something. And when you come looking for payment, they're offended that you would even try. I've worked in roughly 6 different companies in Ireland (SME's and larger orgs) dealing with straight transactions to leasing agreements, etc. And to be brutally honest, a lot of these poor unfortunate people are just ignorant of the realities of life. Unwilling to negotiate or compromise a lot of them will face court summons when the company has been bending over backwards to give them easy terms to pay their debts. Bad debts are no use to the company concerned.

Lastly, Irish people over the last decade fell in love with debt finance.. now its coming back to bite them in the ass. Its not completely the fault of the bankers, big business and the government. (Sure they're a rather significant aspect, but stop passing the buck entirely)

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I don't believe it's as simple as one rule for the rich and one rule for the poor.

You only go to jail if you do not cooperate with your lender and the court, and refuse to make any sort of payments.

I would bet money that is not what the rich do. They get their solicitor to come to some sort of agreement with their lender.

Big difference.

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DublinWriter Registered User

Great concept for a book.

You might want to contact a firm of lawsearchers, such as Bradys, to pull out a list of complete list recent judgements on penal sentances for non-payment of fines for you. They will include the name of the person and the address, but it won't be cheap.

PCPhoto Registered User

I don't believe it's as simple as one rule for the rich and one rule for the poor.

You only go to jail if you do not cooperate with your lender and the court, and refuse to make any sort of payments.

I would bet money that is not what the rich do. They get their solicitor to come to some sort of agreement with their lender.

Big difference.

problem is that some lenders wont co-operate with people....I'm pretty sure that if some lenders would allow lower payments or variable payments schemes then people might be able to work around it.

one of my loans that I currently have I pay €455 a month in repayments, at the moment this is ok for me and I know that I have equipment which I can sell in the event of not working in order to make repayments - which should allow me to "survive" for about 6months.

most lenders - if they are agreeable to reducing payments they expect an increase in overall interest they receive .... if they reduced their greed and allowed people to make their repayments on a flexi scale - a lot of people will be able to pay their debts.

I have talked in the past about rescheduling payments and the bank wouldnt give me the time of day..... I was in a few months ago .... they took a look at my accounts and basically said theres too much online gambling transactions (it was 4-5 transactions a month no larger than €100 at a time) .... so I've had to stop using my account to play some of the online gambling that I used to enjoy.... in order for my bank to allow me to adjust my payments I had to avoid my little pleasure for a minimum of three months.

klaz Registered User

From a personal & professional point of view I detest the banks. They give out loans aplenty and then try to screw you on the repayments, and lat payment charges. Basically, they intend right from the beginning to mess up their customers. And worse yet, there's absolutely no loyalty in them. Credit Unions on the other hand are a lot more flexible and are willing to help you out. Sure, they don't want bad debts or defaulters, but they'll at least attempt at a compromise.

I've worked in the area of credit control almost my whole adult life (until last year), and every company that I've worked for was willing to settle on some compromise to customers finding it difficult to make their repayments. My job was not to get the money and screw the customer, but to get payment and keep the customer. Bad publicity both media driven or word-of-mouth was to be avoided. Don't get me wrong.. I've worked through liquidations, legal processing, and have acted as witness in court against bad debtors.

The point I'm seeking to make here is that most businesses will seek to look after their customers if they receive some reasonable response from customers. Banks won't. One of the reasons, I've turned down job offers from banks in the past.

klaz Registered User

Darragh29, on a side note, I hope you're going to be balanced in this and write about the general stupidity of many people when taking on debt? A book about people getting screwed is all very well and good, but a better book might also highlight some of the faults in consumers when taking out such debts...

weedfreedomtinp Registered User

our country is a shambles and the people in power are 2

zebrafumbler Registered User

To hell or connaught with the tv license. We pay enough taxes, get the government hand out of our pockets. We need to rise up and smash the regime and all the other puppets. Take back the power.

the iceman come Registered User

allthedoyles said:
This woman spent Christmas in Jail :


An interesting and very sad story,but if you read in between the lines it is clear that the lady in question was jailed for contempt of a court order rather than the fine itself. She ran a business but failed to prove she "couldnt" pay. When she offered an installment plan it was too late at that stage as an order for her imprisonment had already issued. Again I will say,and I really cannot make this clear enough,if you prove to the court that you "cannot" pay by furnishing them with your income details less neccesary expenses,there is no way you will be jailed,but this must come at the installment order stage,if you miss that opportunity then you are automatically in contempt and could well be jailed. Please note that the court is actually there for your own protection as much as it is for the creditors actions.

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Builderfromhell Registered User

kbannon said:
I know this fella (lets just call him Ray) who was unable to pay all of his taxes (he was so poor that he had to lie about the few quid extra he received) and ended up getting 6 months in Arbour Hill.
His former friend (lets just call him Bertie) is apparently in a similar position and although for a long time he was so poor that he couldn't open a bank account, he still cannot manage to get himself tax certified. Thankfully, however, it looks like he may just manage to escape the same punishment dealt to Ray!

Ray and Bertie are not alone. They, like so many others, are victims! We must put a stop to this pain and suffering. With your help, we can reach out! Please send what you can.

It is my understanding that very few people go to jail for failure to pay taxes. I believe only be one person was imprisoned for failure to pay a few million in the last few years. Revenue will try to seize goods to the value of monies owed. In the event where goods are not available to cover debts then the debts are written off.

I am surprised to hear that someone would get 6 months for being poor and therefore maybe genuinely unable to pay tax debt.

sparkling sea Registered User

Originally Posted by Mena
Skewing the truth.

You don't go to jail in Ireland for non-payment of debt. What happens is thus (speeded up timeline):

1. You fail to pay
2. Summons are issued
3. You don't go to court
4. Judge orders you to pay x per month off debt or imposes a fine
5. You didn't go to court so you are unaware of 4 above.
6. You go to jail for contempt of court when you don't comply with 4.

That's how I understand it at least.

the iceman come said:
As I understand it (and I am open to correction,)it should read like this,

1 as above
2 as above
3 as above

4 judgement is given in your absence
5 creditor has the option of enforcing judgement either by sending in sheriff (not usually of any use in a private dwelling)

6 sheriff returns to report there are no goods to seize
7 creditor calls for an examination of debtor in court for the purposes of an installent plan (another summons)

8 debtor dosent turn up,judge makes an order for whatever the creditor wants

9 debtor still dosent pay

10 possible jail,judge cannot determine wheter the debtor can or wont pay.

I know that the above refers to debt but with regard to fines The Fines Bill 2009 provides for the updating and indexing of fines. It also provides for the payment of fines by instalment and ensures that a court will take a person’s financial circumstances into account before imposing a fine. The main provisions of the Bill are outlined in the Department press release Publication of Fines Bill 2009

I didn't realise this had been passed into legislation and I can't seem to find the Act - whats it called ?

Criminal Courts up until the passing of this legislation did not allow for the payemnt of fines imposed by the court to be paid in installments unlike the Civil Court which does allow for installments.

It is not uncommon for people in Ireland to be imprisioned for not payment of a TV licence, and the fines imposed for not complying with a criminal court order still apply even if the defendant has been imprisoned.
There was a guy on Joe Duffy a month or so ago - it could have been 3 months or so ago - but he was imprisoned because he did not possess a dog licence and ignored the warnings to get one and did not pay the fine imposed by the court within the specified time which is usually within 7 days or so.
The process applies to non payment of a TV licence, warnings are given well in advance and it is possible if there is a problem payment to get help if you are entitled to it. Still it is crazy that people must go through the cost process.

Surprised and glad to hear the fines can now be paid through installments - very sensible move

sparkling sea Registered User

GUIGuy said:
Ah newspaper headlines! Please give me one instance of a person being jailed for non payment of a debt in Ireland. It has'nt happened because AFAIK there is no law that permits it.

Obviously people are thrown in jail for failing to comply with a court order... but that's a completly different matter. When a case is taken against yo for non payment of a debt the court decides on an appropriate repayment schedule considering your crcumstances and orders you to pay it. Yor not jailed for non payment of the civil debt...you're jailed for not doing what the judge told yo.

It's the "Enforcement of Court Orders Acts 1940". Recently there was a lot of coverage about this... The Caroline McCann test case. She 'ignored' an order to pay back 82 euro a week. The court didn't jail her immediately... The Credit Union took her to cort and she was ordered to pay this amount. It wasn't until she ran up arrears of 5,856Euro, that the district imposed a one month term on her.

The test case and the subseqent ruling on the case was not that the jailing was wrong per se, but that procedures relating to the fact that the court imposed the order without her being present. Because she wasn't in court she was not represented and no effort was made by the judge to ascertain whether her failure was do to a willful failre or an inabilty. The judge just issued the order... maybe he was annoyed with her. Well the good judge has passed on so we'll never know.

That is not to say that if she'd been present and represented AND the judge investigated her circmstances she might not have been jailed... but it was the judge's failing.

However with regard to fines 3,366 people were jailed in the first 10 months of last year because they refused to, or were unable to, pay fines. This compares to 2,520 in 2008 and 1,335 in 2007. In the majority of those cases, people were jailed for non-payment of road traffic fines

del_c Registered User

Anybody who has ever done work or supplied goods to somebody who has then has difficulty getting paid for them will know the frustration that comes with it. This is not all about fat cats and dodgy money lenders. In order for commerce to function in an economy, there must be moral hazard and appropriate penalties for those who borrow money or get work done, and redress for those who supply these services.

In Canada they have a similar system to Sweden I think; it becomes difficult to function in society if you have an unpaid debt hanging over you. In Germany there is a system called SCHUFA which is similar.

In my opinion it is too difficult to put the squeeze on errant debtors..particularly for smaller scale enterprises; tradesmen, small builders etc.... The process is far too long winded and complex, especially if you end up having to go to court and getting paid back a fiver a week over 20 years, or some paltry settlement like that.

InReality Registered User

I don't believe it's as simple as one rule for the rich and one rule for the poor.

You only go to jail if you do not cooperate with your lender and the court, and refuse to make any sort of payments.

I would bet money that is not what the rich do. They get their solicitor to come to some sort of agreement with their lender.

Big difference.

I think thats exactly right.

According to Matt Cooper's recent book Larry Goodman was able to get the banks to write off 300 million that he owed to them.

Tony Ryan of GPA was able to get a large amount of personal debt that he owed American banks written off as well.

Whats really interesting to me is that Goodman is now back to being a billonaire !

Danbo! Registered User

Darragh29 said:
I take your point, if you have the means to pay and refuse to do so, then I don't see a reason why you should not go to prison. But even this point isn't as straightforward. Say you owe 20K to your credit union, and you have a house worth 350K with no mortgage. You might have your loan covered in terms of your capital worth, but you might not be able to sell your house in the current climate and therefore cannot use your capital worth to discharge your debt. So where are you then, are you a victim yourself of a wider set of economic circumstances or are you a person who has the means, but lacks the intent to discharge a debt???

However it seems that since we went into recession and there was a huge rise in unemployment, the number of people ending up in prison for debt default has risen very rapidly, which I think would suggest that the people ending up in prison for non payment of debts are the very same people who are most affected by this recession, possibly people who have lost jobs, etc.

In any event, I don't claim to have the answers right now, which is why I want to research the whole area and get in touch with people who have been down this particular road...

Just to point out, you can always sell a house in any economic climate. Saying it's worth 350K, and saying you cannot sell it, is a contradiction. Its only worth what somebody is willing to pay.

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