A District Court judge has expressed concern that banks are now accepting offers of payment from debtors that they refused to accept in the past.
They are also receiving interest that built up in the meantime, without a corresponding reduction in balance because no payments were agreed, noted Judge Seamus Hughes at Mullingar District Court.
He was commenting as Ulster Bank agreed to accept a €20-per-week payment from a woman, who explained that she had made a similar offer 18 months ago, but it was refused.
The Westmeath woman owed around €37,850 to Ulster Bank in June 2011, but that sum now stands at €43,177.84.
Judge Hughes said that thousands of people who come before debtors' courts had probably offered payments that they could live with and comply with, but many of these offers were refused by financial institutions.
"Then two years later, when [banks] are dragged roaring and shouting into the world of reality, they accept it," he said, pointing out that interest accrues in the meantime.
If the bank had accepted the woman's offer in 2011, even though she would still be paying interest over the last 18 months, it would be on a reducing balance, he said.
Judge Hughes said he did not want the court to be "a rubber-stamping operation".
He adjourned the case to March for Mason, Hayes and Curran Solicitors, representing Ulster Bank, to clarify that the figures before him are correct, and what discretion the court has if they are incorrect.