Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Questions (148)

Dara Calleary


148. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to the fact that due to staff shortages and cutbacks, District Court lodgments are being made just once a week; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this is affecting the lodgment of maintenance payments to recipients' bank accounts; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that this is having a detrimental affect on such maintenance payment recipients, who are waiting five days for the payment to clear; her plans to rectify the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23746/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has stated that if the deputy in his reference to “District Court lodgements”, is referring to the fact that cash collections in Court Offices are made just once a week, the position is that the frequency of cash collections in Court Offices has no impact on the timing of family law maintenance payments. I am informed that the only factors that impact the timing of the issuing of maintenance payments relate to the method of payment by the maintenance debtor and the method of payment to the maintenance creditor.

When a payment from a maintenance debtor is received in a court office or electronically via the banking system, it is available for immediate disbursement. A high percentage of payments are made by way of Bank Standing Order and go directly to the Courts Service Bank Account. Similarly there is no waiting period in relation to payments received as cash, bank draft or money order. Where payment from the maintenance debtor is made by way of cheque the position is that there is a holding period of ten working days before the payment can issue. The holding period commences when the cheque is received and entered in the Courts Accounting System.

Where the maintenance creditor has elected for payment by electronic funds transfer (EFT), the payment should be in the creditor's bank account within 2 working days of the payment being receipted by the Courts Service. In the case where the maintenance creditor has elected for payment by cheque, cheques are issued once a week every Tuesday. The Courts Service is actively encouraging maintenance creditors to elect for payment by EFT as this is the most efficient method of payment. At present 94% of family law payments are being made by EFT, with 6% being paid by cheque.