Does anyone on the pin know the way the courts treat repo cases? Specifically, how much info do they allow the public to know, and at what stage in the process?
Are repo cases heard in a specific type of court such as County Registrar’s, District or Circuit? Does the name of the debtor and the property in question get posted up on the courts.ie website prior to the hearing?
I’d be interested in following this type of thing in a systematic way if there was interesting stuff available to the public.
Of specific interest to me would be cases where landlords who are bleeding their tenants with high rents but not paying a penny towards the mortgage. I don’t mean individual cases which have been highlighted by the media, but more the day-to-day goings on of repo cases.
Ideally, we’ll hear back mostly from people with specific info about the main questions in this OP.
I thought I’d fluff this thread just in case anyone was lurking who happens to know the answer. We’ve recently seen media reports on repo proceedings. That clearly suggests that there is some element of the process that is public.
Is anyone willing to join me in some research work to clarify this matter ?
Repossession cases are not singled out in any way - they are no more “secret” than any other Irish court proceeding.
The difficulty is that the Irish justice system is generally not very transparent. Court documents are not generally publicly available; it is difficult as an outsider to track cases; even when a matter is listed for a public hearing it is often impossible to understand what is going on without seeing the documents or knowing the procedural history.
Repossessions also pop up in a number of different courts (High Court and Circuit Court) and a number of different lists, so there’s no one place to look.
Also, just to muddy the waters further, “repossessions” is a catch all which covers court orders seeking possession, appointment of rent receivers, etc. - in some cases (appointment of receivers) there might not be any court involvement at all.
Repossession proceeding are issued the same way any any others - the only “in camera” cases are family law and some criminal (ie sexual offences) and a few commercial ones on application. The repossession ones are in open court (unless there are some exceptions I am not aware of).
The proceedings can be issued in the Circuit or the High court, presumably depending on the value or complexity of the case, but I don’t actually know the “levels” that would justify one or the other court. The County Registrar hears them for them for the Circuit court but if they intend to argue (i.e. defend it) it will be transferred before a Judge. Similarly in the High Court it will come before the Master of the High Court who can transfer it to a Judges list.
The names are posted up but you need to know what you’re looking for i.e. go to legal diary and look for court 33 for the country reg list for today- there are many bank -v- someone listed, but they could be repossessions of family homes, or something else. Similarly if you do a High Court Search you have to put in two values so I put in “2014” for year and “Bank” for Surname and got hundreds of Bank -v- someone. You can see filings, list dates, orders buy you can’t see the actual papers filed.
You will not be able to see if landlords are not paying unless a reporter is in court, or you go along yourself. The Judgment section has very few - only the interesting ones are published i.e. the “tort of reckless lending” ones are there, but you kind of need to know what you’re looking for.
If you figure out a way to track this I would be interested but from what I know about the process, the only way you could do it is sit in court all day and /or get a job in the repo section of a bank!
What about a Freedom of Information request to the Courts Service, requesting all the Reposssession cases which came before the courts in a given year.
the details are:
Freedom of Information
Application under the F.O.I. Act
Under the Freedom of Information Act, anyone is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available.
Each Person Has a Right to:
Access (subject to the exemptions contained in the F.O.I. Act) to records held by the Courts Service;
Correction of personal information relating to oneself held by the Service where it is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading;
Access to reasons for decisions made by the Service directly affecting oneself.
The Following Records Come Within the Scope of the Act:
All records relating to personal information held by the Service irrespective of when created;
All other records created from commencement date i.e. 21 April 1998 (subject to certain exemptions);
Any other records necessary to the understanding of a current record.
The Courts Service is obliged to respond to the request within 4 weeks (20 working days) upon receipt of the request.
Application for information under the F.O.I. Act should be addressed to:
Ms. Miriam O’Flanagan
Freedom of Information Officer
The Courts Service
15/24 Phoenix Street North
Not sure if this would only relate to closed cases, there are a lot of stays in repossession cases, latest one being the judge gave a stay to a woman for 6 months where the woman wanted to hand the house back!! you couldnt make it up!!
I have no experience with the Irish FOI, but some experience with FOI in the US. In addition to the excerpts you posted, you probably also need to look closely at the specific exemptions to Irish FOI.
There is a general rule with US FOI, that pre-decisional deliberative material is exempt, but once a final decision is taken, it, and rationale’s for it, are discloseable.
Seems plausible that you could get court info ex post facto, but not while it was still sub judice, and to state the obvious, FOI doesn’t apply to banks, mortgage lenders etc. so they might have a right to object to disclosure because of what it says about business practices, trade secrets etc.
Never request a “document” - that can be construed as hard copy only. Always request a “record” - that covers all forms of storage, disk, disc, PDF, email, all digital etc.
Also, request “all records in your custody and control” pertaining to x, that covers off-site archival storage material.
If you encounter resistance, file a new request asking to inspect all other “requests to inspect, and the individual agency response to each” for a given time period in order to learn all the facts necessary to understand how the process works.
In the US you don’t have to give a reason for wanting to inspect, but if you do in Ireland, or if the agency asks for one anyway, which they sometimes do, “learning all the facts” is your reason, and you are not being in anyway uncooperative, like some might think the agency was.
It’s also useful for determining the agency’s “posture” on FOI, and their track record with other requestors, if you ever get to the stage of threatening legal action.
Granted, this is US oriented, but the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of Press, maintains a good database where you can pick up useful tips.
So, let’s look into other aspects: is there a time period of warning with public notices that stipulates that there must be one week, or one day or one hour of public notice given before a case commences?
For example the recent Mary White case where the judge so memorably gave Ms White the extra 6 months after she said she wanted rid of the place immediately.
I presume the media was present. Did they have “cara sa chúirt” or were they simply acting off some public notice?
As regards public notices: is this online or is it literally a particular physical notice-board on some wall in a dusty provincial courthouse that’s open from 11am to 1pm every second Tuesday?
Ideally I’d like to see an online community of Repo-watchers to be set up around Ireland keeping a watchful eye on court proceedings. I’d like to see interactive maps showing houses around the country where non-payers are living free and easy due to court-imposed 12-month stays while us renters are bled dry.