Ireland's Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, has requested the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to study the public liability insurance sector in Ireland.

Under section 10(4) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014, the Minister has power to request the CCPC to "carry out a study or analysis" of:

"(a) any issue relating to consumer protection and welfare,

(b) any practice or method of competition affecting the supply and distribution of goods or the provision of services, or

(c) any other matter relating to competition,

and to submit a report to the Minister in relation to the study or analysis, and the Commission shall comply with such a request within such period and in such form and manner as the Minister may specify in the request."

The Minister has asked the CCPC to study the public liability insurance sector.

The CCPC in its initial media release said that "rising premiums for public liability insurance have been blamed for the collapse of a number of businesses and community events." Moreover, the CCPC said: "this market has national significance and the CCPC looks forward to conducting this market study and contributing to the State’s efforts to bring about widely-supported change in the sector."

Studies can take some time. Studies done by the Competition Authority (the CCPC's predecessor) took several years to complete but more recent studies have been much quicker. The Minister might give the CCPC a time limit for the study but that is relatively unusual.

The CCPC has acknowledged that this project "is in the early stages and the CCPC has not yet finalised the terms of reference." Despite being early days, the CCPC has invited individuals and groups to provide information to the CCPC on the topic. Some of those interested might be interested in discussing with the CCPC the terms of reference of the study.

This study follows a series of other studies conducted by the CCPC and the Competition Authority on topics as diverse as banking, household waste collection market, insurance, personal contract plans in the motor finance sector, seaports and the professions. Some have led to reform and changes in the law while others have spurred further analysis and reports.

It is worth noting that this study is separate from the CCPC's on-going investigation in the motor insurance sector which has been underway since September 2016 and the European Commission's investigation relating to Insurance Ireland.