Today I joined the Green Party TDs and Senator to call Government to immediately introduce a moratorium on home repossessions, as there is a risk that EU Law is not properly being applied in the repossession process and the State may be liable for illegal repossessions if EU law if this is the case.
On the 21st of December, the High Court ruled in the case of AIB v Counihan that European Consumer Law must be considered in the context of home repossessions. This means that Judges or County Registrars dealing with repossessions must carry out an assessment of whether the contract’s terms were fair and proportionate. Further to this, EU case law in Kušionová may also require such assessments be made with reference to the fundamental protection afforded to the ‘home’ under the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Failure to abide by EU law, where applicable, would render repossessions illegal – with the State liable.
This is a very serious situation. Prior to Christmas the County Waterford Registrar suspended all repossession cases until there is legal clarity – but all other areas are continuing as before. The Government must consult the Judiciary and County Registrars to ensure that the resources required to carry out the assessments, as laid down by EU law, are available. If cases continue to be processed without the necessary resources being allocated, the State is likely to be liable if repossessions occur for failing to afford consumers the protections they are entitled to.
We’re calling for the Government to introduce a moratorium on repossessions until they have consulted the Judiciary and County Registrars to ensure that there are adequate resources to fulfil the legal obligations under EU law, and legal clarity is restored. The Minister for Justice has agreed to debate the matter in the Dail this evening.