The Government recently published its planned programme of legislation for the up-coming summer months. It has also released a list of Bills which are currently being drafted and are expected to appear in late 2012.
In this summary, we set out the most significant legislative proposals.
Some of the Bills planned for publication during the summer session include:
- The Personal Insolvency Bill - As previously outlined in our Client Bulletin of 31 January 2012 this legislation will provide for a new framework for settlement and enforcement of debt and for personal insolvency. This is required under the EU/IMF/ECB Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. Recent media reports suggest that this will be published in June.
- The Central Bank (Regulation of Credit Unions) Bill - This Bill will provide for a strengthened regulatory framework for credit unions including effective governance and stabilisation requirements.
- Betting (Amendment) Bill - This Bill will amend the Betting Act 1931 in order to bring remote betting (including betting exchanges) within the existing regulatory framework and to make some incidental amendments generally to bookmakers' licensing arrangements.
- Criminal Justice (Search Powers) Bill – This Bill will address the implications of the Supreme Court judgment in Ali Charaf Damache v the DPP, Ireland and the AG  IESC 11, in which the Court granted a declaration that section 29(1) of the Offences Against the State Act 1939 was unconstitutional because it permitted the issuing of a search warrant of the appellant's home contrary to the Constitution, on foot of a warrant which was not issued by an independent person.
Bills in respect of which heads have been agreed, texts are being drafted, and publication is expected by late 2012, include:
- Companies Bill - A draft of Part A of this Bill was published in May 2011 and the second part is close to completion. The Bill aims to bring greater clarification and simplification to Irish company law through modernisation and the consolidation of the existing 15 Company Law Acts, related regulations and case law.
- Consumer and Competition Bill - This Bill will amalgamate the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority and give effect to other changes to competition and consumer law including making provision for a statutory code of conduct for the grocery goods sector.
- Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill – This Bill will introduce a number of regulatory improvements for co-operative societies.
- Protected Disclosures in the Public Interest Bill – This Bill, more commonly known as the Whistleblowers' Bill, aims to protect workers from reprisals and victimisation, and provide redress for workers, where they disclose information relating to serious wrongdoing in the workplace. Draft heads of the Bill have already been published to provide interested parties with the opportunity to provide their views on the proposed approach. The draft Bill addresses the recommendation in the report of the Mahon Tribunal to introduce a pan-sectoral whistleblower protection act in place of the sectoral approach to whistleblowing protection.
- Mediation Bill – This Bill aims to provide mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and relieving the stress involved in court proceedings. Draft heads of this Bill have already been published, as previously reported in our Client Bulletin of 6 March 2012.
Bills in respect of which heads have yet to be approved by Government:
- Collective Investment Schemes Consolidation Bill – This Bill will consolidate and update current collective investment schemes legislation. The date of publication has not yet been indicated.
- Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill – This Bill will consolidate all of the legislation currently cited as the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 - 2010 in a single statute. The date of publication has not yet been indicated.
- Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill – This Bill will provide for amendments to the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010. The date of publication has not yet been indicated.
- Criminal Justice (Proceeds of Crime) Bill – This Bill will strengthen the powers of CAB in relation to forfeiting the proceeds of crime. The date of publication has not yet been indicated.
- Gambling Control Bill – This Bill will update and consolidate the law on betting and gambling. Publication is expected in 2013.
- Data Sharing Bill – This Bill will permit specified public bodies to share specified data relating to businesses. The date of publication has not yet been indicated.
- Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill – This Bill will amend the Freedom of Information legislation in line with the Programme for Government commitments. Publication is expected in 2012.
- Employment Permits Bill - This Bill is intended to consolidate existing legislation and take account of evolving case-law and to cater for future accessions to the EU. Publication is expected in 2012.
- Workplace Relations (Law Reform) Bill – This Bill is intended to provide for the reform of the Employment Rights and Industrial Relations Adjudication Bodies. Publication is expected in 2012.
- Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill – This Bill will merge the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority. Publication is expected in 2012.
Bills of interest before the Dáil and Seanad at present include:
- The Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 – This Bill is at Committee Stage in the Dáil.
- The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2012 – This Bill is at 2nd stage in the Seanad.
- Construction Contracts Bill 2010 [Seanad] – This Bill is at 2nd stage in the Dáil.
- Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 – This Bill is at Report Stage in the Dáil.
- Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2011[PMB] – This Bill is at Committee Stage in the Dáil.
- Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Bill 2011 - This Bill is at the Report Stage in the Seanad.