Deadbeat Debtors Won't Face Jailtime

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee announced yesterday that it intends to end the jailing of debtors as part of its reform for the Bailiff's Office.

Yesterday, Haaretz published figures submitted to the committee by the police and the Prisons Service, according to which the number of incarceration orders issued by the Bailiff's Office doubled between 2000 and 2007.

According to Ran Melamed of Yedid, the Association for Community Empowerment, under the current law, creditors can arrange for the Bailiff's Office to issue arrest warrants for any debt, of any size, in the event of the debtor's failure to pay or for the debtor to report to the Bailiff's Office for a means test.

Committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) said the idea is to revoke the use of incarceration orders one year after the reform is approved, initially for a period of three years. The reform provides the Bailiff's Office with a number of alternative methods for encouraging debt repayment, short of incarceration or the threat of incarceration. These include the transfer of information from other institutions about the debtors' financial situation and an optional fast-track execution of judgment. At the end of the three-year period, the committee is to receive a report on the effectiveness of the changes.