The purpose of the Equal Status (Amendment) Act (the “Act”) is to provide for the amendment of certain provisions of the Equal Status Act 2000 so as to allow for the mandatory introduction within the European Union of uniform premiums and benefits in insurance as and from 21 December 2012.

The amendments give effect to the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in case C-236/09 (Test Achats case) which declared that Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/113/EC on Equal Treatment between Men and Women in Access to the Supply of Goods and Services was invalid with effect from 21 December 2012.

The decision is binding on all Member States of the European Union. The provision declared invalid by the Court had permitted an exception to the principle of equal treatment in the Directive so that insurance companies could price insurance products differently from men and women where this difference was reasonable and was supported by actuarial or statistical data.

The effect of the ruling is that the State is obliged to prohibit by law the selling of private insurance products which differentiate by gender on price or benefits, where such provisions are in force on or before 21 December 2012. The uniform rule applies to all contracts concluded for the first time as and from that date. It also applies to agreements between parties as and from 21 December 2012 to extend contracts concluded before that date and which would otherwise have expired.

Please click here for the full text of the Act.