Bankruptcies double in last year, says Courts Service

The number of people declared bankrupt more than doubled last year, Courts Service figures revealed today.

In the busiest 12 months ever for the courts, orders were also made to wind up 128 companies – a 66% increase on 2008.

The latest figures show 17 people went bankrupt in the High Court in 2009, with a dozen more so far this year.

Meanwhile, 600 new repossession cases have come into the system since June 2.

The number of restaurant licences granted by the Circuit Court slumped by 50% last year, while hotel licences decreased by almost half.

Pub licences fell to 192, down more than a quarter on the previous year.

Fine Gael spokesman on housing Terence Flanagan said the number of new repossession cases was extremely worrying.

The Dublin North East TD called for a monthly breakdown of the number of repossession orders and actual repossessions to reveal which institutions the orders were originating from.

“The public are entitled to full accountability and reporting of the actual situation and full information should be placed on the Courts Service website on a monthly basis,” he added.

“There can be no longer a drip feed of information coming from the courts and other sources as to the extent of this country’s repossession problem.”

Key findings from the annual report for 2009 reveal:

* A total of 21,000 prison sentences were handed down in the courts last year.

* The Central Criminal Court dealt with 53 new murder cases – the highest figure in almost a decade.

* There were 49 new rape cases at the Central Criminal Court, the lowest number since 2005.

* In the Circuit Criminal Court, theft and robbery cases rose by 28% to 1,586, with drugs offences up by almost a quarter to 954.

* The Special Criminal Court saw its cases increase by two fifths last year. A total of 31 defendants, mainly alleged dissident republican cases, appeared before its judges.

* Applications for judicial separation and divorce were down by 19% and 13% respectively, while applications for custody and access in the District Court both increased by around a quarter.

* Dangerous driving charges dropped by 18% in the past two years, with a fall of almost a fifth in drink driving cases since 2007.

The Courts Service saw its budget slashed by almost 10% last year to €122m.

Chief Justice Mr Justice John L Murray said that despite funding cuts, the courts made significant progress last year.

“The present economic climate means that the Courts Service has had to confront new and different challenges of not only maintaining established services but of enhancing or expanding them to meet the persisting increase in the workload,” he said.

“This change in circumstances has not prevented the service from achieving considerable success.”

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