Separated couple secure court write-off of €2.8 million in debts

Aodhan O'Faolain

The High Court has approved Personal Insolvency Arrangements allowing a separated couple to write off over €2.8m of debts owed.

Mr Justice Alexander Owens on Monday approved PIAs for Bernadette Canning of Monknewtown, Slane, Co Meath and Graham Canning of Ledwidge Hall, Slane Co Meath.

The court heard that couple got into financial difficulties after businesses they had obtained loans from Bank of Ireland for in the early 2000's failed.

The then couple, who are both aged in their mid-fifties, have four children had given personal guarantees in respect of the loans.

In total the Cannings had debts of some €3.2m, mainly to BOI, €2.8m of which was unsecured.

Arising out of their debts they entered into the personal insolvency process.

Mr Canning works as a self-employed food consultant, which Mrs Canning is a carer for her elderly father.

At the High Court on Monday Keith Farry Bl for the Cannings' Personal Insolvency Practioner PIP said

Counsel said that in Mrs Canning's PIA it was proposed that in order to deal with the secured debt of €390,000 the family home is to be sold with the proceeds going to BOI.

It was proposed that the house, at Monknewtown, would be sold to an approved housing body, and that Mrs Canning would rent the property back from that body.

She would also make a lump sum payment of €5,000, of which €1,000 is to go to the unsecured creditors, and the remainder towards the costs of the personal insolvency process.

In Mr Canning's PIA it was proposed that he would make a contribution of €18,000.

Again, under the terms of the PIA some €4,000 from that lump sum will go towards the costs of seeking a PIA, while the remainder is to be paid to his unsecured creditors.

In his PIA Mr Canning was agreeable to the family home being sold to the housing body and rented back to Mrs Canning.

An addition 6 acres of forestry in Co Meath owned by the couple are to be transferred to BOI and sold.

In each case the creditors would do better from the PIAs being approved than if the Cannings were adjudicated as bankrupts, counsel said.

There were no objections to the PIAs, both of which are 24 months in duration, being approved.

Mr Justice Owens, who noted that the applications arose out of the recession from 2008, said he had no hesitation in approving the PIAs.