Glossary: S

This section explains terms you might have seen in other parts of this site or in communication you have received from creditors.

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Definition: Savings

Money put aside for future use, whether in a deposit account or under your bed. “Rainy day” savings are useful for emergencies and need to be easily accessible, while longer-term savings can be built up to provide a “nest egg”.

Savings Account
A bank or building society account that pays interest and that you do not access every day. It is advisable to shop around for the best interest rate. For more information on savings accounts, see Savings and Investment Accounts.

Savings Fund
A fund that a person contributes to over time to build up a lump sum for paying off a loan.

Schedule of Payments
Definition: Schedule of Payments

A list of payment amounts and the dates they are due

Secondary Debts
Definition: Secondary Debts

Those debts where non-payment will not result in the loss of your home, liberty or essential goods and services. The people you owe the money to can take you to court to recover the debts, but you cannot be sent to prison for non-payment.

Secured Debt
Secured Debt

This is a debt that is attached to an asset that you own (e.g. a car loan that is not a hire purchase loan or lease agreement).

Secured Loan
Definition:  Secured Loan

A loan that is secured against a particular asset (or “security”). If a person cannot make the repayments when they are due, the lender can take ownership of the asset.

Definition: Security

Something of value (or “asset”) that one person or organisation uses provide an extra guarantee for a debt. If the debt is not repaid, the lender can seize (or “repossess”) the asset as full or partial payment for the debt.

Self Assessment
Definition: Self Assessment

A system for taxpayers to work out for themselves the tax they owe to the Revenue Commissioners each year. For more information, see the Revenue Commissioners’ Guide to Self Assessment.

Service Contract
Definition: Service Contract

A contract for services

Shared Ownership
Definition: Shared Ownership

Where ownership of something of value is shared between two or more people or organisations. There are many forms of shared ownership schemes on the market.

Local Authority Shared Ownership Scheme
Each local authority has set up a scheme where the authority will buy at least 40% of a house and the occupier buys the rest. The local authority will then charge rent on their portion of the house.

Private Shared Ownership Companies
There are a number of privately-owned shared ownership companies on the market. As with any house purchase, you should seek independent legal advice before applying for this kind of shared ownership scheme.

Definition: Sheriff

An official whose main duty is to seize assets to satisfy a judgment amount owed to a creditor as set out on the execution order granted by the court. In the District Court, the original order of judgment acts as an execution order; in the Circuit and High Courts, a separate execution order must be obtained by the creditor before the Sheriff can be sent to seize the debtor’s assets.

Seizure of goods is unpleasant business – and in many cases it is the creditor’s least preferred enforcement action because of the intrusion into the debtor’s private life. There are also practical difficulties; the Sheriff can seize any asset, but can only hold and sell assets that belong to the debtor. Any assets owned by someone else or that are rented by the debtor cannot be sold.

The Sheriff is prohibited from seizing essential household items such as clothing, bedding or tools of your trade.

Revenue Sheriff
Collects tax debts on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners. A collection manual for Revenue Sheriffs is available from the Revenue Commissioners’ website.

Shop Debts
Definition: Shop Debts

Money owed to local shops for things such as groceries.

Short Term
Definition: Short Term

A loan-repayment or savings period, usually not more than 5 years.

Definition: Signatory

A person who signs a legal document, such as an application form or cheque.

Social Insurance
Definition: Social Insurance

Government-provided insurance that compensates people for loss of income due to old age, unemployment, disability, illness or maternity. It is funded through PRSI contributions.

Solicitor’s Undertaking
Definition: Solicitor’s Undertaking

A written promise from a solicitor – for a debtor to a creditor – that they will repay a debt once they receive money from the debtor (whether by the sale of property, a court judgment, compensation claim etc). Solicitor’s undertakings are usually “conditional”, meaning they will only promise to repay the debt on the condition that they have received the money first.

Sort Code
Definition: Sort Code

A six-digit code that identifies a person’s bank branch. This is printed on bank statements and cheques. Sort codes are stored by the Irish Payment Services Organisation. For more information on sort codes, see Definition: Specialist Judge

Circuit Court Judge who specialises in Personal Insolvency

Stamp Duty
Definition: Stamp Duty

Tax that a person pays to the Revenue Commissioners when they buy:
•    a second-hand property over a certain value
•    a new investment property over a certain value
•    shares
•    certain commercial contracts

For more information on stamp duty, see the Revenue Commissioners’ guidelines here.

Standard Variable Rate (SVR) Mortgage
Definition: Standard Variable Rate (SVR) Mortgage

A mortgage where the interest rates vary (usually depending on changes to the European Central Bank (ECB) rate), but lenders can also change this rate at their own discretion. You can redeem or pay off a standard variable rate early without any penalties applying (unlike a fixed rate mortgage).

Standing Order
Definition: Standing Order

A method of paying fixed amounts on a regular basis (for example, into a pension fund or savings account), by allowing an organisation to take money straight from your bank or building society account. It is your responsibility to change the payment if it needs to be altered.

Definition: Statement

A document from a bank or building society that shows recent payments into and out of a person’s account. You should check it against your own records. You must be given a statement once a year for any account with more than €20 in it.

Statement of Affairs
Definition: Statement of Affairs

This is a list of your income, household expenses, debts and assets.  It is the first document you will be asked to complete by your Approved Intermediary and is needed by them to get a proper picture of your finances . 

Statement of Means
Definition: Statement of Means

A type of budget that shows your regular income and outgoings and any money left over for the payment of debts.

Statute of Limitations
Definition: Statute of Limitations

A law which sets out the maximum amount of time that a matter will be legally enforceable. See also Enforcement of Debts.

Store Card
Definition: Store Card

A card available from a particular shop that lets a person buy goods from that shop on credit and, like a credit card, payments are due each month.

Subject to Status
Definition: Subject to Status

Something that depends on a person’s situation. For example, a loan that depends on whether a person has a good credit history.

Subprime Lenders
Definition: Subprime Lenders

An organisation willing to lend money to people who have been refused credit by mainstream lenders. Loans from subprime lenders will usually have a higher interest rate than loans from mainstream lenders.

Definition: Subscribers

People who set up a limited company or who pay in advance to receive something regularly, such as publications and other products.

Definition: Subsidiary

A company that is controlled by another company.

Summary Proceedings
Definition: Summary Proceedings

Court proceedings brought by a creditor to obtain judgment against the debtor.

Definition: Summons

A legal document served on the debtor by a creditor or their representative. The summons sets out the amount due, the reason for the debt and a date on which the matter will be brought to court. A debtor who has received a summons should seek legal advice and should enter an appearance to defend the matter. For more information, see Summons General.

Civil Bill
The type of summons used to start action in the Circuit Court for debts between €6,348.59 and €38,092. For more information, see Civil Bill.
Civil Summons
The summons used to start action in the District Court for debts up to €6,348.59. For more information, see Civil Summons.
Service of Summons
Summons for recovery of a debt are served by way of registered post against the debtor. The debtor will then have a number of days, depending on the type of summons (see below), to respond and enter an appearance.



District Court

Circuit Court

High Court

Type of Summons

Civil Summons

Civil Bill

Summary Summons/Special Summon

Time for Debtor to respond

Approx 30 days

14 days

14 days

Time usually taken for court to issue judgment

30-60 days

30-60 days

7 days


Special Summons
The summons used for cases of repossession of land.

Summary Summons
The summons used to start action in the High Court for debts over €38,092.

Definition: Superannuation

A regular contribution to a pension scheme by an employee.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA)
Definition: Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA)

A range of means-tested, eligibility-based payments from the Department of Social and Family Affairs including:
•    Rent Supplement
•    Mortgage Interest Supplement
•    Exceptional Needs Payment
•    Urgent Needs Payment
•    Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

For more information, see the Department of Social and Family Affairs’ section on Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Citizens Information’s section on Supplementary Welfare Allowance or the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed’s section on Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

Definition: Surcharge

An extra charge by a bank if a customer does not keep to their agreement.

Definition: Surety

Similar to a guarantor, the guarantee of someone who agrees to take responsibility for someone else’s debts or promises by guaranteeing that they will be paid or fulfilled.

Surrender Value
Definition: Surrender Value

The sum that an insurance company pays to a policyholder who cancels a life assurance policy before its date of maturity (this value is usually lower than if it had gone full term).

Suspend Interest
Definition: Suspend Interest

To temporarily stop charging interest on an account. When negotiating with creditors for the repayment of arrears, you should request that they suspend interest on the account until you’re back on your feet.

Suspend Legal Action
Definition: Suspend Legal Action

To temporarily stop legal proceedings. The MABS / IBF Operational Protocol contains a commitment from IBF members that they will suspend legal action if a mutually acceptable, sustainable repayment plan is agreed to in relation to a debt.

Sustainable Agreements
Definition: Sustainable Agreements (also known as Affordable and Sustainable Agreements)

The amount a person agrees to pay to a creditor after reviewing their budget. The person should agree to pay no more than they can reasonably afford over an extended period of time, according to their budget.

Switching Mortgages
Definition: Switching Mortgages

If you think you are paying too much for your mortgage, you may be able to switch lenders to get a better rate. However, if your home is in negative equity, you may be unable to switch. If you currently have a tracker mortgage, you should think carefully about switching to a new lender; tracker rates are currently better than any other rate on the market and they are no longer available to new customers.