There have been renewed calls recently by the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) and the Irish Institute of Credit Management (IICM) for debt collectors and debt collection agencies in Ireland to be licensed.
According to FLAC and IICM, there have been reports that some debt collectors in Ireland have used intimidatory and unscrupulous practices in the pursuit of debtors and, in their view, regulation would help get rid of the “cowboy” debt collectors and help establish an Irish debt collection code of conduct to deal with issues such as how often and what times in the day/evening collectors should call or visit debtors.
While we fully agree with the need to regulate and license the debt collection industry in Ireland, we would also argue that creditors and/or their agents should be allowed to exercise legitimate means to pursue unpaid monies from debtors. We therefore need to look closely at whether the Irish judicial system is currently up to the task. It seems obvious that if the legal system was less costly and more streamlined, particularly in the case of uncontested debt collection matters, creditors would be less likely to look to the so-called “cowboy” debt collectors to recover their debts.
Let’s not forget that, in many of the cases which are passed on to debt collectors, a creditor would have probably tried (and failed) many times to recover the debt using amicable means. Handing over the debt to a debt collection agency is very often a last resort. And, because a debtor possibly ignored peaceful efforts in the past to collect the debt, a creditor may be quite happy for a collection agency to employ more heavy-handed tactics. Any small business or individual that has been in the position where it has been owed money will fully understand the creditor’s position.
Yes we agree there ought to be regulation of debt collection services in Ireland, but let’s not forget that small and medium sized businesses are failing every day because of cashflow problems caused by debtors’ failure to pay legitimate bills. In Irish debt collection cases, as with most things in life, there are two sides to every story. It’s just a shame that, with organisations clamouring to uphold the rights of debtors, the rights and livelihoods of creditors are far too often being ignored.