The organisation representing the country's Free Legal Advice Centres has urged the Government to allow ordinary personal debtors to settle with creditors in the same manner as richer people.

The call for the extension of the bankruptcy system came as FLAC reported a seven-fold increase in the number of contacts made by the public on debt-related issues since 2007.

FLAC has said it received almost 11,000 queries last year at almost 90 legal advice centres nationwide, in addition to almost 10,000 telephone calls.

More than 650 voluntary solicitors and barristers offer advice through the centres.

The majority of queries tend to relate to family law, but there was a 400% increase in queries relating to debt over the last three years.

Employment law also remains a frequently discussed issue, making up 14% of queries at advice centres.

FLAC said the most common calls and queries it receives are reflective of the overall economic situation, 17% of employment law queries relate to redundancy and 25% to dismissal.

Director Noeline Blackwell notes in the annual report that FLAC had warned about the dangers of widespread credit and light touch regulation as far back as 2003.

She said despite current difficulties the organisation will continue to work to ensure the right to access to justice is defended and promoted.