I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in this amendment, which was inserted at my own request. The position is that in addition to a writ offi fa which directs an under-sheriff to levy an amount by distress and sale of the goods of a person, another writ known as a writ of delivery is sometimes issued by the High Courts to the under-sheriff directing him to take a specific article and return it to the lawful owner. The amendment is introduced for the purpose of including a writ of delivery within the definition contained in the Bill of an execution order.
ENFORCEMENT OF COURT ORDERS BILL, 1926—FROM THE SEANAD.
I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in this amendment. It was inserted in response to representations from the Seanad that the under-sheriff ought to be able to give an inventory of the chattels seized within twenty-four hours of such seizure. I consider the suggestion a reasonable one and I accept the amendment.
This is a cognate amendment. It was urged that the debtor should be allowed a longer period than 24 hours after the seizure in which he may redeem his property before sale. I considered that suggestion reasonable also and I accepted the amendment, the effect of which is that the under-sheriff cannot sell until after a lapse of 48 hours. I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in the said amendment.
This is an important amendment. Some considerable discussion took place on Section 13 in the Seanad. It was pointed out that the section as it stood would render a father liable for debts contracted, without his knowledge, by a son who happened to reside with him. There were several amendments suggested and finally I agreed to accept an amendment moved by Senator Brown, the effect of which was to restrict the portion of the section to goods found in the house or on the lands of which the debtor is occupier "either alone or jointly with another or others." Occupation in the legal sense is distinct from mere residence and the word "occupier" in the context means the person having the actual use and enjoyment of the house or the land. The amendment, therefore, has the effect of removing any doubt as to whether the under-sheriff can seize the goods of the father in respect of a debt contracted by his son who resides with him. In many cases, although there may be one rated occupier of land, two or more persons, in fact, are in occupation of the land as, for instance, where they are tenants in common who are joint tenants of the property. To cover such cases the words "either alone or jointly with another or others" are used to qualify the word "occupier." I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in the said amendment.
Would the Minister explain whether the effect of this amendment is to make impossible the seizure of the husband's property because of the wife's debts or vice versa, if the wife is the occupier? Does joint occupation imply occupation by husband and wife in the legal sense? The Minister has explained it could not be held to be joint occupation if the son resided with the father on the premises.
The effect of the amendment is to secure that where credit is given to a person other than the apparent owner and the actual occupier of the house or land, that where it is given, say, to a junior member of the family, then the property in the house shall not under the section be liable to seizure as the property of the son. It was contended here, and in the Seanad, in connection with Section 13 that the effect would be to make people less careful about the standing of the person to whom credit was given, that it was enough that he lived in a house in which there was property and that, presumably, that property could be seized under the Act. This amendment goes some way to remove any danger of that kind. If the debtor is not the occupier, not necessarily the rated occupier, but if he is not the head of the house, so to speak, and the apparent owner, then the goods of some other member of the family, such as a son, cannot be made liable. The Deputy asks does our saving clause, "either alone or jointly with another or others," render the property of the wife liable for the debts of the husband? It does not. It was not intended to and has not that effect.
Does it preserve the property of the wife in respect to the debts of the husband? Does it maintain the married woman's property rights?
It does not infringe or rescind it. If the goods of the wife are, in error, seized in respect of debts, there are open to her the ordinary processes that existed before this Act at all of serving her statutory declaration on the under-sheriff, who would interplead.
I beg to move that the Committee agrees with the Seanad in this amendment.
This amendment is the same as amendment 4, so I take it it is agreed to.
At the expiration of the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers) Act, 1924, on 31st March last, proceedings under Part 3 of the Act for the examination of debtors were pending in many cases. Examination orders had actually been obtained in some of the cases, but by reason of the expiration of the Act the examinations could not be proceeded with. In a few other cases the examinations had been concluded and instalment orders had been made, the instalments spreading over a period later than the 31st March, 1926, when the order to pay could not be enforced. The execution creditors have incurred costs in bringing proceedings before the court and in obtaining the necessary orders, and it is thought that where the proceedings were pending on 31st March last these execution creditors should not lose the benefit of any orders already obtained by them and be compelled to startde novo and that on the passing of the present Bill they should be permitted to continue the proceedings originated under the 1924 Act, as from the stage they had reached when the 1924 Act expired. The present section makes possible the continuance of such proceedings in that way. I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in the amendment.
I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in the following:—
Before Section 25 a new section inserted as follows:—
All rules made and forms prescribed by the Minister under Section 28 of the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers) Act, 1924 (No. 20 of 1924) and in force immediately before the expiration of that Act are hereby re-enacted and shall continue in force and apply to proceedings under this Act in the District Court until rules of court made under Section 91 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924) and applying to such proceedings come into force.
Under Section 28 of the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers) Act, 1924 the Minister for Justice is empowered to make rules for the conduct of proceedings authorised by the Act to be brought before the Justice of the District Court and to prescribe the forms to be used in the course of such proceedings. In August, 1924, rules were made and forms were prescribed by the Minister for the conduct of the proceedings as to the examination of debtors in the District Court. The rules have been found quite satisfactory and the amendment proposes that they should be continued pending the making of the rule by the District Court Rule-making Committee and their approval by the Dáil. The District Court Rules will be ready to be laid before the Oireachtas on the passing of the Court Officers Bill, but in view of the fact that some little time will elapse between the passing of this Bill and the approval by the Oireachtas of the District Court Rules, it is considered advisable to continue the rules made by me so that there should be no hitch in the proceedings for the examination of debtors. This new section will provide for the transition period between the passing of this Enforcement of Court Orders Bill and the approval of the new rules for the District Court.