Courts Bill 2016: Committee and Remaining Stages

Sections 1 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I am sorry to have to do this, but to be consistent with my colleagues in the Lower House, Sinn Féin opposes the Bill.

While I take on board my colleague's concerns, this is a technical Bill to redress issues that need to be redressed. I thank the Minister of State for attending the House a few days before Christmas to ensure the Bill is passed. I also thank all colleagues for their co-operation on this and many other Bills.

I wish the Leas-Chathaoirleach, the staff and all of my colleagues an enjoyable Christmas. I hope to see them all for a full 2017.

I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House. We are happy to support the Bill because sections 1 to 3, inclusive, have been deleted on the basis of Fianna Fáil pointing out in the Lower House that the case which highlighted the anomalies the Bill was designed to address is under appeal.

I thank the Minister of State for coming and wish him well. I am happy to support this technical Bill which tidies up a number of anomalies, particularly in respect of strategic development zones, including Cherrywood in Dún Laoghaire, near where I live. I spoke to a number of people in the area last week and they were anxious that this anomaly be addressed.

I welcome the Minister of State. I appreciate many concerns have been addressed by deleting the first three sections of the legislation, as drafted. However, many of the issues that were highlighted in the debate did not necessarily relate to the Bill, but it is worth noting them because we may need to revisit them. The Minister of State might refer to how this might be done.

There were concerns about the 2009 Circuit Court rules and conditions under which registrars would issue repossession orders and the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013. A misconception was that the Bill was being extended to the principal primary residence, but the 2013 Act addressed that point. There is a feeling people may not have full recourse, particularly under the 2009 rules. They may not be technically expert and, in some cases, the defence they put forward is not recognised as adequate. Their cases, therefore, are not heard before a judge and a judgment is not being handed down. Judges can drawn on a wider corpus of law and rights than a registrar. There are legitimate concerns and fears and it is important to highlight the need to address them.

There is also serious concern about receivers and the process of repossession. While it is not directly relevant to this legislation, it is relevant to the legislation we will discuss tomorrow. While I accept that the Bill is technical, it is an arrow that is pointing to a legitimate concern about repossession, receivership and due process. We should use it as an opportunity to reflect on how we might address them more effectively together in the new year.

I thank Senators for their consideration of the Bill. The role of Circuit Court registrars is set out in the rules made by the courts rules committee. As Senators have noted, this is a technical Bill, pure and simple. We listened carefully in the Lower House to the concerns about the jurisdiction of the courts. At the time I felt we could have carried on, but we agreed to remove the first three sections and allow this part of the Bill to proceed, which is quite important.

I thank colleagues for their support of the Bill. I note that Sinn Féin is not supporting it, but at the same time it is very important to have constructive and critical debate. I like coming to the Seanad for that kind of debate, when Senators consider this and other types of legislation and ask constructive questions so as to improve it. That is what we are all trying to do for the benefit of citizens. We are all trying to do the best we can and no party or Minister has the monopoly of all wisdom. That is why it is so important that we all listen to each other and debate Bills and legislation to do the best we can. If mistakes or anomalies are pointed out, so much the better. They will be taken on board and changes made as necessary.

I take the opportunity to wish the Leas-Chathaoirleach, the Cathaoirleach, Members of the Upper House and all of the staff a very happy Christmas and peaceful new year. I thank everybody for his or her co-operation. I look forward to coming here on many occasions again in the new year.

We hope to be here to receive the Minister of State.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Tomorrow at 10 a.m.

The Seanad adjourned at 1.15 p.m until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 21 December 2016.