Irish courts are experiencing sharp spike in the number of cases linked to international debt collection. A recent flurry of media coverage has brought attention to the operations of so-called ‘vulture funds’ as they apparently step up debt recovery in Ireland.

Vulture funds are financial organisations such as investment trusts, private equity firms and hedge funds which look for opportunities to make a profit from debt collection. They buy up debts at a discounted rate from organisations which no longer wish to be liable for them and then seek to recover more than they paid.

Ireland has announced the wording of its Code of Conduct on Prompt Payments, a voluntary charter similar to that in place in the UK.

Small business minister John Perry announced the Code on July 1st; it is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Small firms in Ireland are waiting an average of 62 days for their invoices to be settled, but when it comes to debt collection Ireland's entrepreneurs are still reluctant to take action.

These are the findings of the Small Firms Association's Late Payment Survey, published in early January, which looks at the issues affecting the credit control and debt recovery Ireland's small businesses use to keep their accounts - and their non-paying customers - in check.