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Debt Relief Orders introduced to Northern Ireland

By Matthew Plant

6 July2011

Debt Relief Orders have now been introduced to Northern Ireland, giving some struggling borrowers a real chance to tackle their debt problems.

The website of the Northern Ireland Executive - northernireland.gov.uk - provides some details, quoting Arlene Foster, the Enterprise Minister.

As in England and Wales, the Debt Relief Order can 'help people who are burdened by debts which they have no realistic prospect of being able to repay'.

If they're eligible for the scheme, a borrower can apply to the Official Receiver for a Debt Relief Order, which will protect them against any action by their lenders for the next 12 months. At the end of that year, 'their liability to pay debts covered by the Order will be completely cancelled' - in layman's terms, the debts will be 'written off'.

This will, according to the Minister: "offer the least well off in our society an affordable way of freeing themselves from debts which they have no prospect of being able to repay."

What's more, with no need for a court hearing, she expects that administering Debt Relief Orders will be "relatively straightforward and cost effective".

Up to 1,000 people could enter a Debt Relief Order per year, she believes.

As in England and Wales, there are strict eligibility criteria: the borrower would have to have debts, assets and surplus monthly income below certain levels.

Prior to the introduction of this Debt Relief Order, the only insolvency options available to someone in Northern Ireland were bankruptcy or an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement).

DROs have been available in England and Wales since 6th April 2009.

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Tags: debt, debts, DRO, Debt Relief Order, IVA, Individual Voluntary Arrangement, bankruptcy, Northern Ireland, insolvency

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