Negotiating through difficulty: A comment about the Personal Insolvency Act, 2012


Following on from my previous blog post about having a difficult conversation, I have noticed that an opportunity for collaborative dialogue has been created in Ireland to deal with debt issues, the Personal Insolvency Act.  This Act will require individuals to work together while having challenging conversations and possibly negotiating an effective insolvency plan.

The stress of not being able to meet financial obligations can be massive, often resulting in broken homes, depression, addiction and sometimes suicide.  Individuals in many of the Eurozone countries have found themselves in an almost hopeless situation, with creditors demanding payment and no possible way of meeting these obligations.  In response to this growing need governments have introduced a number of different measures to provide some assistance.

In Ireland, The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 introduces a mechanism in which debtors and creditors can have a dialogue about repayment and in certain circumstances these debts can written off, all of this without having to go to court…which can be costly, stressful and time consuming.  With the assistance of either an ‘Approved Intermediary’ (AI) or ‘Personal Insolvency Practitioner’ (PIP) individuals will be able have conversations that, prior to the introduction of the Act, they would probably not have been able to have.

The individuals providing assistance to the debtors will have to be skilled in having difficult conversations and they will also have to be comfortable with managing emotion in negotiation.  They will have to work with parties that could potentially be quite positional and through dialogue and discussion, find a solution that is workable for all parties (adhering to the requirements of the Act).  The identified AI and PIP will have to use all of their negotiating skills and also be acutely aware of actively listening to all the parties (both debtors and creditors), in order to really understand the interests of all the parties.

The Act does present a wonderful opportunity but also presents challenges to those trying to work within the prescribed insolvency options.  However, what it does provide is a useful lifeline to those that thought they were sinking and a valuable first step to a new and better beginning.

CEDR will be running its Certificate in Advanced Negotiation in Dublin starting October 2013, with Ranse Howell one of the featured trainers.



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Ranse Howell
Ranse Howell is the Mediator and Consultant for The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).

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