This legislation update covers the Freedom of Information Bill, the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013.

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013

This Act was signed into law on 24 July 2013. It provides the necessary statutory framework for the Oireachtas to conduct inquiries within the current constitutional framework, as set down in Maguire v Ardagh [2002] IR 387, (the Abbeylara judgment).

The Supreme Court, in Abbeylara, held that the Oireachtas inquiries do not have the power, in general, to make findings of fact adverse to the good name of any person who is not either a Member of the Houses or directly accountable to the Houses.

The Act clarifies the role of the Houses of the Oireachtas in securing accountability through investigations into matters of significant public importance. Although the Act will facilitate a Banking Inquiry to go ahead, it creates a legislative framework for Oireachtas inquiries generally, and is not limited to the banking inquiry.

Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013

The Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 was signed into law by the President on 24 July 2013. Certain Parts of the Act are due to come into operation by Commencement Order, including Part 3, which provides for the increase in jurisdiction limits.

See our Client Bulletin of 23 July 2013 for more information.

Freedom of Information Bill 2013

The Government published the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 2013 on 24 July 2013. The Bill extends FOI to all public bodies, unless they are explicitly listed as exempt. Schedule 1, Part 1, lists those bodies which are partially exempt. Part 2 lists those bodies which are fully exempt.