What is… The Court Mentor and Duty Solicitor Service
We know that being in mortgage arrears on your home can be very stressful. It is understandable that you might feel like you are alone or that there is no help available. We know this because we help people who feel the same way every day.
The good news is that there is help, and you are not alone. The services available through Abhaile are here to help. The people from Abhaile are experts at what they do and have provided support to thousands of people in long term mortgage arrears—working with people in arrears to come up with a permanent solution to tackle the issue and stay in their homes.
Keep reading to learn more and remember, the first step can often be the hardest, and we’re here to help. In today’s blog, we will be discussing the Court Mentor and Duty Solicitor services based in courts across Ireland. These are referred to as court-based services. By the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of what they can do for you if you find yourself at a possession hearing.
This is the third in a series of four blogs where we will share information on each service and what to expect. The first blog was about the Dedicated Mortgage Arrears service and the second was about the PIP Service.
The Court Mentor Service
Have you received a letter from your lender stating that they are starting legal proceedings? Or maybe a court summons for a possession hearing in the Circuit Court? You may have already attended court proceedings, or you’ve been a court a few times already. The first thing to remember is it’s not too late to resolve your mortgage arrears. Second, always attend your court hearings, it shows you are willing to engage with your lender to resolve your mortgage arrears.
When you arrive at your possession hearing, you will find a friendly person who may approach you to introduce themselves and ask your name. This is the MABS Court Mentor, and they will talk you through what will happen and answer questions you might have.
If you’ve been working with a DMA or PIP, your financial adviser will liaise with the Court Mentor to update them on your progress and the Court Mentor will give you tips on what to say to the County Registrar.
The Duty Solicitor Service
Your DMA or PIP may also refer you to speak with the Duty Solicitor when you arrive at court. The Duty Solicitor is the solicitor on duty at possession hearings rostered through the Legal Aid Board. Again, your DMA or PIP will liaise with the Court Mentor and Duty Solicitor to update them on your case so they can advise you on what to say to the County Registrar. Depending on the County Registrar, they may also allow the Duty Solicitor to speak on your behalf, though this is entirely at the discretion of the court.
Top Tips for your Court Hearing
– Always try to be available and present at your hearing. The County Registrar will see this as you positively engaging in the process.
– Prepare for parking. Research what parking is available before you leave in case a car park is full or on-street parking isn’t available. Have plenty of change so that you can make sure that you have enough to cover the duration of your court appearance. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to run out to top up the parking and miss your opportunity when your name is called.
– Be heard! Don’t be afraid to stand up at the front of the court and have your voice heard. The County Registrar is there to hear you and will actively listen to what you have to say.
– Don’t use your phone in court. This can be seen as being negative.
– Have a pen and paper so that you can make notes after your appearance, or keep notes on your case. These will be helpful then reflecting on the hearing later. Make a note of important dates.
– Get there early but be conscious of the public health advice at the time. You can use this time to gather your thoughts and read over or write your notes.
– Take someone you trust with you. They might not be able to join you in the court unless their name is on the papers, but having a trusting friend with you on the day can be helpful to discuss the options and be a listening ear.
– Ask for help. Don’t shy away when you get to the court. You are not alone and most of the people present are there for the same reason and feeling the same as you. The Court Mentor and Duty Solicitor will make themselves known and are available to help you.
Other Supports under the Abhaile Scheme
The Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Service
Under Abhaile, DMA advisers are available nationally through MABS. This, like all the services of Abhaile, is free to access. You will usually be referred to a DMA if you engage through the MABS Helpline (0818 07 2000), your local office, or by WhatsApp 086 035 3141.
The Personal Insolvency Practitioner Service
You may be eligible for a personal insolvency solution such as a PIA achieved with the support of a Personal Insolvency Practitioner, or PIP. Your DMA will help you apply for a voucher for a consultation with a personal insolvency practitioner (PIP). Read more about the PIP service.
If you do not qualify for a PIP consultation or decide not to use the PIP service, your DMA adviser will work with you and your lender to agree on an informal resolution to your mortgage arrears.
The Accountants Service
On completion of your SFS, if your case has complex financial issues such as Revenue compliance or self-employment, then your DMA may help you apply for an accountant voucher so that you can obtain further financial advice from an accountant.
The accountant will advise you on any financial issues relating to the resolution of your mortgage arrears. They will also advise you on possible solutions when you talk with them and confirm this in writing.
You can choose your accountant from the Abhaile accountants panel depending on who is available.
The Consultation Solicitor Service
If your financial adviser (DMA or PIP) thinks you need legal advice, they will help you apply for a voucher for a free consultation with a solicitor.
Next time, we will introduce the Consultation Solicitor service and how they can help. Follow @AbhaileInfo & Abhaile Mortgage Arrears on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss the next blog.
If you are in mortgage arrears and fear you are at risk of losing your home, call the MABS dedicated Helpline on 0818 07 2000, or find your local office to make an appointment.
Please note: This blog is provided as an aid to highlight a typical borrower journey through the different services and supports available under Abhaile. It does not constitute a legal interpretation of Abhaile, or legal advice on relevant legislation, and should not be relied on as such.