A barrister has advised those applying for a deal on their debt to ensure they receive sound legal advice before taking action.

Barrister Brian Walker, who specialises in company, insolvency and bankruptcy law, said there could be serious consequences if an application fails.

Guidelines setting out the living standards for people getting a deal on their debt under the new Personal Insolvency Act are expected to be outlined after Easter.

Mr Walker said those applying should consult, free of charge, with an organisation such as the Phoenix Project or New Beginning to ensure they receive the best possible advice.

"Anybody signing up for this arrangement could find themselves in difficulty if it fails.

"If it fails it triggers an act of bankruptcy and that would entitle a creditor to bring an application before the court to have them made bankrupt," he said.

"In that regard the Insolvency Service of Ireland is gearing up for a large increase in the number of people who will apply for bankruptcy."