In February 2013, the Central Bank published its first issue of the Intermediary Times for 2013 which focuses on the updated guidance on the Consumer Protection Code (the "CPC") issued in December 2012.

CPC Guidance

The Central Bank notifies firms of the publication of an updated guidance document on the CPC. In particular, the Central Bank notes that in order to comply with provision 7.4 of the CPC, prior written consent must be obtained from a consumer each time an intermediary intends to deduct any charge from a premium rebate. Further, the Central Bank notes that a firm which sends a text message to a consumer outside of the permissible hours for telephone contact set down in provision 3.43 of the CPC would not be a violation of this provision.

The Central Bank also reminds intermediaries of the CPC provisions relating to advertising, in particular, provisions 2.4, 4.10, 4.16, 4.17, 9.2, 9.6 and 9.7. Some of the Central Bank’s specific concerns include: the incorrect use of regulatory disclosure statements; the failure to clearly distinguish between regulated and unregulated activities; the use of the term “independent” without satisfying the relevant criteria; and the use of phrases such as “savings of”, “prices from”, “save up to” without prominently displaying qualifying criteria in the main body of the advertisement. The Central Bank also emphasises that key information and eligibility criteria should be prominently stated with the minimum or maximum price or potential maximum saving in the main body of the advertisement.

Grandfathering under MCC

The Central Bank emphasises that regulated firms cannot undertake any further grandfathering assessments as the deadline has passed. All regulated firms should now have a Statement of Grandfathered Status (the “Statement”) on file for each grandfathered individual acting on its behalf. This Statement must be provided to an individual when he or she ceases employment with the firm, or on request, and new employers are advised to obtain an original Statement for the purposes of confirming the functions for which an individual has availed of grandfathering arrangements. Finally, the Central Bank emphasises the importance of keeping the Statement in a safe and secure location and states that firm contributions to the Investor Compensation Scheme should ensure that they are in a position to issue a duplicate Statement.

Contributions to Investor Compensation Scheme

Finally, the Central Bank reminds regulated firms of their legal obligation to make an annual contribution to the Investor Compensation Scheme pursuant to the Investor Compensation Act 1998. The Central Bank notes that it has recently taken successful legal proceedings against non-compliant firms and that interest may be imposed on late payments.

Please click here to view the full text of the Intermediary Times.