Advocacy update

High Court in Ireland Confirms Protections of EU Law in Home Repossession

Date
May 15, 2019
Contact
Jonathan Birchall
media@opensocietyfoundations.org
+1-212-547-6958

In a case supported by the Justice Initiative, the Irish High Court has confirmed that EU Law protects people at risk of losing their home in Ireland. On March 7, the Court issued a decision in Grant v. County Registrar, Laois, that concluded that Circuit Court Registrars, along with judges, are obliged to assess mortgage documents for unfair mortgage terms on their own initiative, without being asked to do so by the borrowers. 

They will then have to delete any terms they find unfair before entering a possession order, in accordance with the EU Unfair Terms Contract Directive (UTCD). In addition, when asked to do so by borrowers, Irish courts must now consider the impact of the loss of the family home under Article 7 of the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights (Respect for private and family life). 

This is the first time an Irish court has acknowledged that borrowers have these Charter rights in possession cases. 

Until now, courts treated possession cases in a summary fashion and informed borrowers that they had no defenses. This decision means that borrowers can now ask the courts to weigh such factors such as their payment history, amount in arrears, and the impact of the loss of the home on children against the lender’s property interest. 

The Abusive Lending Practices Project, which is supported by the Justice Initiative, has prepared an analysis of the ruling.


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