On Friday 28 September, the Minister for Finance published the Credit Reporting Bill 2012 (the Bill). This follows a consultation process by the Dept of Finance and publication of a draft Bill earlier this year.

The Bill provides for the establishment and operation of a statutory Central Credit Register (CCR) system in Ireland. The CCR will be owned and operated by the Central Bank of Ireland. It is intended that when the CCR is fully operational, lenders have access to the most accurate and up to date information regarding a borrower’s total exposure.

In its press release, the Department of Finance explained the key elements of the Bill as follows*:

  • There will be mandatory reporting of a comprehensive range of credit information by credit providers;
  • Credit providers will be required to meet specified reporting standards in this regard (e.g. formats, timelines etc.);
  • Credit providers will be required to make mandatory credit checks with the Register for all credit applications above a threshold of €2,000;
  • The Bill provides for controls with regard to access to information on the Register. By including provisions relating to access to data and security measures as well as provisions to help to deal with identity theft, this legislation will inspire confidence in businesses and in the consumer;
  • The Government recognises the vital importance of the small business sector to the economy and fully accepts that it will have a vital role to play in the recovery of the Irish economy. The legislation proposes to extend the role of the Data Protection Commissioner to deal with complaints from micro enterprises and SMEs (with a turnover of less than €3m) in respect of their data held on the Credit Register. This initiative may provide some comfort to enterprises where they have a concern in relation to the potential storing of inaccurate data and where they do not have the resources to take legal action through the Courts to seek to have the data corrected. Inaccurate data on the CCR could result in the refusal of credit to a small company;
  • The legislation also extends to loans acquired or issued by NAMA and to loans issued by local authorities;
  • The Central Bank will ensure the robust regulation of regulated financial service providers who fall under this Bill;
  • Although fees may be charged for access to information held on the Register consumers will be entitled to one free copy of their own record every twelve months;
  • The current formulation does not preclude the inclusion of the Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) on the CCR in the Bill. Its use is provided for in order to assist with identification of individuals to support the validation process when assigning data on the Register to the correct individual. This Section will not be commenced until the Minister is satisfied that the PPSN is necessary to ensure the effective operation of the Register. The Minister will require evidence from the Central Bank to show that the PPSN is an integral part of the system before commencement of this Section is agreed by him;
  • When enacted the Credit Reporting Act will support responsible lending and borrowing. It will also aid the supervisory functions of the Central Bank and will enhance consumer protection measures in respect of lending.

For a link to the Bill, please click here and to the explanatory notes please click here.

* source: Department of Finance press release on publication of Credit Reporting Bill, 28 September 2012