The Companies (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Seanad last Tuesday, 9 June 2009. It will be debated in the Dáil this Thursday, 18 June. It is likely to be signed into law in a matter of weeks.
In the Seanad, important changes were made to the Bill in relation to the Director of Corporate Enforcement's powers of seizure. The following specific time-limits were introduced with respect to materials seized by the ODCE under Section 20 of the Companies Act 1990:
- The ODCE will have three months to decide on the materiality of seized information and to separate material information from immaterial information; and
- material which is not relevant must be returned within 7 days of that determination being made. This followed concern about the wording of the original provision, which stated that the materiality of documents taken off-site would be determined "as soon as practicable".
Comment: This measure is likely to be welcomed as a reasonable safe-guard to the significant powers being afforded to the ODCE under this Bill.