Covid-19 impact on civil and insolvency matters

Ireland
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European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)

1 Covid-19 impact on civil proceedings

1.1 Time limits in civil proceedings

No specific legislation on time limits. Issue of proceedings where the statutory time limit to issue will expire before the end of the “restriction” period are considered essential business (see second column).

1.2 Judicial organization and Judiciary

Court offices will remain open, and are accepting urgent papers. Drop boxes are being provided for documents to be left in, reducing the need to interact with staff at the public counter. Court offices can continue to be contacted by email or by post.

Civil matters can be adjourned by consent via e-mail. Only urgent cases will go ahead in the coming weeks.

Applications relating to urgent Family Law matters are allowed, including protection orders, interim barring orders, emergency barring orders, extension of orders.

Applications can also be filed for essential business such as urgent wardship matters or urgent judicial review applications.

Videolink appearances are being facilitated from prisons for all people currently in custody following order of President of the High Court.

Piloting underway to facilitate courts hearings remotely and by video with the consent of the parties.

1.3 EU Judicial Cooperation

Staff of the Ministry of Justice and Equality and the Central Authorities are mostly working from home. Communication by email only is preferred.

2 Insolvency related measures adopted or planned for adoption in member states as communicated until 16 April 2020

2.1 Substantive insolvency measures and related contracts affecting measure

2.1.1 Insolvency suspension

2.1.1.1 Suspension of duty to file for insolvency (debtors)

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2.1.1.2 Protection of debtors about insolvency filing from creditors

The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020 makes temporary amendments to the The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020 makes temporary amendments to the Companies Act 2014 and the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893 – 2014 to address issues arising as a result of Covid-19.

Specifically on examinership (preventative restructuring), it makes provision in respect of business solvency by increasing the period of examinership from 100 to 150 days and increasing the threshold at which a company is deemed unable to pay its debts from €10,000 for a single creditor and €20,000 in the aggregate to €50,000 in respect of each.

Measures under the Act are due to end on 31 December 2020 but consideration is currently being given to an extension of these provisions.

2.1.2 Claim enforcement suspension and contract termination suspension

2.1.2.1 General / specific moratoria on claims enforcement / certain types of claims enforcement

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2.1.2.2 Suspension of contract termination (general / specific contracts)

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2.2 Civil, including insolvency courts suspension and procedural suspensions

Measures to support the smooth operation of the insolvency system have been agreed, including the relaxation of certain court rules and certain payment breaks, where appropriate.

For further information, please see https://www.courts.ie/covid-19-notices

2.3 Other insolvency measures (those relating to avoidance actions, reorganization plans, informal agreements, and others if appropriate)

Banks and non-bank lenders announced coordinated flexible forbearance measures in March to support customers whose income was impacted by COVID-19. This included payment breaks for mortgages and other loans of initially three months (later extended to six months) where an application was made in advance of 30 September 2020.

During October the vast majority of these payment breaks expired.

Since 1 October, forbearance has been based on individual or case-by-case assessment by lenders of borrowers’ financial circumstances. Borrowers have been provided with additional financial support/forbearance or are completing a Standard Financial Statement (SFS) to determine the most appropriate type of forbearance for them. This may include short term measures such as further breaks in payment or longer term measures.

2.4 Related non-insolvency measures (payment deferrals, bank loans, social security, health insurance, business subsidies)

Financial supports, training and guidance area available to help businesses mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and return to work safely.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), provides a flat-rate subsidy to support employers from the private sector experiencing significant economic disruption. EWSS has replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and will run until 31 March 2021.

A COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is designed to offer a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions imposed on them in response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme facilitates up to €2 billion in lending to eligible businesses. Loans under the Scheme range from €10,000 to €1 million, for terms of up to five and a half years.

COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first 6 months and the equivalent of an additional 6 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions.

For further information on the range of business supports in place, please see https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

A Debt Warehousing Scheme in respect of certain taxes has been introduced. The scheme allows VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts incurred by businesses during the period of restricted trading caused by Covid-19 to be ‘parked’ on an interest free basis for 12 months following the resumption of trading. At the end of the 12-month interest free period, the warehoused debt may be paid in full without incurring an interest charge or paid through a phased payment arrangement at a significantly reduced interest rate of 3% per annum. This compares to the standard rate of 10% per annum that would otherwise apply to such debts.

Last update: 18/03/2021

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