Any person convicted of a competition law offence in Ireland may be disqualified from acting as a director of an Irish company in certain circumstances.
Section 839(1)(a) of Ireland's Companies Act 2014 provides for the automatic disqualification of a person convicted of certain offences, for a period of time, as a director of an Irish company in certain circumstances.
In specific terms, the section provides:
- A person is automatically disqualified if that person is convicted on indictment of (a) any offence under this Act, or any other enactment as may be prescribed, in relation to a company, or (b) any offence involving fraud or dishonesty.
- A person disqualified under subsection (1) is disqualified for a period of 5 years after the date of conviction or for such other (shorter or longer) period as the court, on the application of the prosecutor or the defendant and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, may order.
- A person disqualified under subsection (1) is deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to be subject to a disqualification order for the period of his or her disqualification.
- Subsection (1) is in addition to the other provisions of this Act providing that, upon conviction of a person for a particular offence, the person is deemed to be subject to a disqualification order."
On 23 March 2016, Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation adopted the "Companies Act 2014 (Section 839) Regulations 2016".
Regulation 3 of these Regulations provides that the offences under section 6 and 7 of the Competition Act 2002 (as amended) are prescribed for the purposes of section 839(1)(a) of the Companies Act 2014. In effect, this means that any person who is convicted of being party to an anti-competitive arrangement (section 6) or involved in abusing a dominant position (section 7) may be disqualified from being a director in the circumstances outlined in section 839 of the Companies Act 2014.
The advantage of the adoption of a statutory instrument is that it puts beyond doubt the question of whether or not a person convicted of a breach of section 6 or 7 of the Competition Act 2002 (as amended) would be disqualified; it is now clear that they may be disqualified where the two statutes (i.e., the Companies Act 2014 and the Competition Act 2002 (as amended) and these new regulations apply.