Ireland will publish a bill to ease its strict bankruptcy rules by early April, fulfilling a requirement of its EU/IMF bailout and offering relief to thousands struggling under crippling mortgage debt.
It can take up to 12 years in Ireland to be discharged from bankruptcy, compared with one year in the United Kingdom, prompting several high-profile developers to travel west across the Irish Sea to take advantage of the lighter regime, a practice dubbed bankruptcy tourism.
Dublin recently cut the minimum period before an application can be made for discharge to five years, but the shorter term is subject to strict conditions.
The new law is expected to significantly reduce the timeframe, and relaxing the conditions could cut the value of a vast pool of property loans held by government agencies and state-controlled banks.
The bill itself we hope to have published in its full form ... just shortly prior to the Easter vacation, in early April, Justice Minister Alan Shatter told Ireland's Newstalk radio station.
Irish household debt was 129 percent of GDP last year, according to IMF data, the highest level in the industrialised world.
More than one in 10 Irish home loans are not being fully repaid, and the situation is deteriorating as unemployment remains stubbornly high and house prices continue to fall.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries)