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Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Bill: Briefing for Stage 3 debate

By: Shelter Scotland
Published: February 2010

Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Bill: Briefing for Stage 3 debate

Shelter Scotland supports the Bill. It strongly reflects the conclusions of the Repossessions Sub Group on which Shelter sat. Scrutiny of the Bill at stage 1 and stage 2 has resulted in it being strengthened in general – no mean feat for such a complex Bill working to a challenging timescale.

Mortgage repossessions have not yet reached the peaks predicted a year ago. This is testament to the work carried out by both Scottish and UK Governments and the forbearance of responsible lenders. However, this is no time for complacency. Mortgage repossessions are still very much higher than they were five years ago. Interest rates are very low and lenders’ forbearance may not continue forever. In that context, there was a case for reforming the law on mortgage possessions before the current recession and the new legal framework will benefit Scotland long after the current recession has passed.

Some concerns have been raised about additional burdens that might be placed on the courts. While it is true that the Bill aims to ensure that those cases that need to go to court actually do go to court and are thoroughly scrutinised, its central rationale is to ensure that fewer cases need to go to court at all. Far more emphasis is placed on getting early intervention right. This is better for people with debt; better for lenders seeking repayment; and better for efficient use of court time.