Check to see if application is within the scope of the service
- The application must relate to an application under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 (as amended), to have a personal insolvency arrangement come into effect notwithstanding that it has not been approved in a creditors meeting or by the sole creditor. Legal aid is not available under Abhaile for any other type of court application. In particular it is not available for an application under section 119A for a court review of a rejected variation of a personal insolvency arrangement. (Check that the PIA document is headed “Standard Personal Insolvency Arrangement” rather than “Standard Variation of Personal Insolvency Arrangement – if the latter, the application is under s119A and falls outside the scope of Abhaile).
- The application relates to a court review of a rejected personal insolvency arrangement. The section 115A procedure is not available in relation to other forms of personal insolvency (debt relief notices, debt settlement arrangements, bankruptcy). The applicant must enclose a copy of the personal insolvency arrangement.
- The person must be insolvent – that is, they are unable to pay their debts in full as they fall due.
- The debts covered by the proposed PIA include a “relevant debt” i.e. a debt which is:
- Secured on the person’s principal private residence – i.e. the home in which the person ordinarily lives; and
- The person was in arrears on the mortgage on that home on 1st of January 2015, (or they were in arrears before then, but have entered into an alternative repayment arrangement with the lender).
- A person is not eligible if their home is disproportionate to the reasonable living accommodation needs of the borrower and his or her dependents.
- The person’s Personal Insolvency Practitioner must consider that there are reasonable grounds for applying to the Court to have the PIA “confirmed”. The PIP must set out these grounds on the Application for Legal Services form.
Where these matters are not in order it does not necessarily mean legal aid is not available to assist the debtor with their particular problem. It only means that the application is not within the scope of the Abhaile scheme. The correct course of action may be for the decision maker to advise the applicant that legal aid is not available under the Abhaile scheme and that they should make a suitably amended application to a law centre on the normal application form.
It may be that the applicant will insist on having the application determined. As the application form specifically relates to legal aid for a court review of a rejected PIA, the decision maker may form a view that legal aid may be refused under section 24 and 28(2)(b), as the applicant does not have as a matter of law grounds for instituting the proceedings the subject matter of the application.