DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE PUBLISHES PRIIPS STAUTORY INSTRUMENT
On 9 January, the Department of Finance published the European Union (Key Information Document For Packaged Retail and Insurance-Based Investment Products (PRIIPs)) Regulations 2017 S.I. 629 of 2017 (the Regulations). The Regulations amend the Central Bank Act 1942 to enable the Central Bank to deal with infringements of the PRIIPs regulations under its administrative sanctions procedure. Under the Regulations, the Central Bank also has the power to issue the following measures where it has been established that one or more of the infringements listed in Article 24 of the PRIIPs Regulations have occurred:
an order prohibiting or suspending the marketing of a PRIIP;
a public warning, which indicates the person responsible for and the nature of the infringement;
an order prohibiting the provision of a key information document, that does not comply with the form and content requirements under the PRIIPs Regulations;
fines of up to €10,000,000 or 10% of turnover for corporates (€1,000,000 for natural persons) or up to twice the amount of the profits gained or losses avoided as a result of the infringement; and
a direction requiring the PRIIP manufacturer or person selling or advising on the PRIIP to issue a direct communication to the retail investor concerned, notifying the retail investor that they have been sanctioned by the Central Bank for a breach of the PRIIPs Regulations and informing them of where to lodge a complaint or submit a claim for redress;
The Regulations also require firms to have robust internal procedures in place for the reporting of actual or potential breaches of the PRIIPs Regulations. Any sanction imposed by the Central Bank under the Regulations or under the PRIIPs Regulations may be appealed to the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal.
The Regulations are available here.
COST OF EMPLOYER AND PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE REPORT PUBLISHED
On 25 January, the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s (CIWG) Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance was published on the Department of Finance’s website. 15 recommendations with 29 associated actions are made in the report. The recommendations and actions are detailed in an action plan contained in the report with agreed timelines for implementation. The recommendations cover three main themes. First, enhance levels of transparency and improve data sharing and collection processes. Second, the Law Reform Commission should undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries; and third, improvements to the personal injuries litigation framework.
Insurance Ireland issued a press release stating that the report confirms that Irish award levels are significantly above those in the UK for minor, moderate and severe neck, back and ankle injuries. Kevin Thompson, CEO of Insurance Ireland stated, “It is time to tackle the fundamental insurance costs that make up the price paid by a business and that is awards and the cost of settling them. Insurers want reform and support the Report’s objective of bringing consistency to personal injury award levels, but the pace of reform outlined needs to be accelerated.”
The CIWG’s report is here.
Insurance Ireland’s press release is here.
CENTRAL BANK PUBLISHES KEY TRENDS IN HEALTH INSURANCE COMPLAINTS
On 24 January, the Central Bank published its Consumer Protection Bulletin setting out its analysis of complaints from personal consumers in relation to their health insurance policies. The data analysed was reported by the main health insurance firms. Key trends identified include: in H1 2017, the companies received a total of 7,709 complaints in relation to health insurance, representing 0.75% of live policies during that period; this is lower than the comparable H1 2014 figure when complaints relating to health insurance represented 1.12% of live policies; complaints per thousand policies relating to health insurance (7.5) were more than double the number for other non-life insurance products (3.0); the most common cause of complaints related to claims (48.1%), which contrasts with other non-life insurance, where only 23.2% of H1 2017 complaints related to claims; after claims, customer service was the most common complaint, at 32.7% of H1 2017 complaints; 5.6% of complaints received during H1 2017 received redress payments, and the total amount of redress paid out was €223,857; and 98% of health insurance complaints were resolved within 40 business days.
The Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Bulletin is here.
THE CENTRAL BANK OF IRELAND’S RESPONSE (RESPONSE) TO THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION ISSUES PAPER “REGULATORY ENFORCEMENT AND CORPORATE OFFENCES”
In its response to the Issues Paper, the Central Bank recommends:
that reforms should be introduced to identify and strengthen the accountability of senior personnel in regulated entities in this jurisdiction;
that the suspension period for an individual from senior positions in regulated firms as part of the fitness and probity regime should be extended;
the introduction of a legislative criminal offence of ‘egregious recklessness’ by those in charge of financial firms that fail;
to embed core common standards within a legislative framework to guide regulated entities, and the individuals in control of them, as to what is expected of them;
the establishment of a specialised appeals body, similar to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (“CAT”) in the UK, as a method of reducing delay in the appeals process; and
the establishment of a division within an existing criminal agency, which will be dedicated to investigating white collar crime, with the goal of ensuring more effective investigations and prosecutions of white collar crimes.
The Law Reform Commission Issues Paper, “Regulatory Enforcement and Corporate Offences” is here.
The Central Bank’s Response is here.
The Press Release for the Central Bank’s Response is here.
NEW INSURANCE DATA TRAILED IN QUARTERLY BULLETIN SIGNED ARTICLE
The Central Bank published the signed article, Insurance Corporations Statistics in Ireland: Introducing the New Quarterly Statistics. The article presents a dataset considering the size and operation of the insurance and reinsurance sectors in Ireland and containing the following main take away points:
insurance corporations represented 6% of total assets within the Irish financial sector in 2016, compared to a euro average of 11%;
over the last five years the insurance sector has grown steadily, demonstrated by the total assets of the second quarter amounting to €303 billion, equivalent to 110% of GDP and placing as the third highest in the euro area;
the majority of the assets can be accounted for by life insurance corporations contributing to 79% of the total; and
the contribution of foreign business amounting to 85% of total premiums written in Ireland, demonstrates its important nature to the industry.
The Central Bank publication is here.
The Quarterly Bulletin Signed Article is here.
REGULATORY SERVICE STANDARDS PERFORMANCE REPORT H2 2017
On 31 January the Central Bank published “Regulatory Service Standards Performance Report H2 2017”, setting out that it has maintained and exceeded a 100% service record in processing authorisation applications within the applicable statutory timeframe.
The Central Bank's press release may be found here.
The Regulatory Service Standards Performance Report H2 2017 may be found here.
INSURANCE IRELAND FACTFILE 2016
Insurance Ireland recently published Factfile 2016, its annual analysis of the insurance industry in Ireland. It also provides a historical perspective with data compiled from 2012 until the end of 2016. The data collected is from members of Insurance Ireland unless otherwise indicated in the report. The report contains a detailed breakdown of the domestic and international business of insurers based in Ireland, looking at various statistics including premium levels, the rate of benefits and claims paid, year-end value of investments, and employment rates. Some main points to take away from the Executive Summary in relation to the Irish insurance market include:
combined gross insurance premium decreased by 3.9%, falling from €13,439.1 million in 2015 to €12,908.2m in 2016 and premiums per capita decreased from €2,922 in 2015 to €2,746 in 2016 such that the premium income as a percentage of GDP for 2016 was 4.68%;
there was an increase in the capital values of assets in many investment areas in 2016;
the aggregate value of policyholders’ funds managed by Insurance Ireland’s life members increased in 2016 by 8.7%; and
cash holdings increased to a value of €10,413 million, rising from 9.5% to 9.7% from 2015 to 2016.
The Insurance Ireland Factfile 2016 is here.
SPEECH TO ASSOCIATION OF COMPLIANCE OFFICERS IN IRELAND EVENT: ARE YOU FIT FOR FINTECH?
On 17 January, Gerry Cross, the Director of Policy and Risk of the Central Bank, delivered a speech on Financial Technology (FinTech). In the course of this speech he examined the new European legislative and regulatory framework is impacting the area, how the Central Bank is planning on updating its current approach, the preliminary work done by the Central Bank and the interplay of FinTech with other relevant trends, including virtual currencies.
Mr. Cross stressed the importance of other new legislation such as the PRIIPs Regulation, which improves the quality, accessibility and comparability of information that customers across Europe receive when investing in these products.
Mr. Cross stated that the Central Bank are currently engaged in an internal review of their approach to FinTech and can be expected to deliver further insight into their approach over the next few months. The Central Bank intends to focus the scope of review to include, the interaction between the regulator and tech companies, how technological innovation can improve supervision and how an understanding of innovation can help develop an appropriate regulatory approach.
Mr. Cross referred to the Central Bank’s discussion paper, Consumer Protection Code and the Digitalisation of Financial Services, (the Code), which the Central Bank is currently in the process of reviewing the responses with the aim of formulating how the Code can best target emerging risks and how protections may need to be enhanced. He also notes the growing focus on the reliance of information technology for financial firms and how the Central Bank is looking to increase its focus on the use of technology in these firms, most notably in bringing together the specialist resources from the different sectoral area, into one centralised IT inspections team.
Finally, Mr Cross discussed FinTech’s relationship with the areas of compliance, stressing the expectation to see compliance officers adapting appropriately to the modern risks, and the Central Bank’s intention to actively engage with and influence the European treatment of FinTech. He concluded by looking at initial coin offerings and virtual currencies, and warns of the various problematic challenges they create for users such as falling outside the regulatory scope and their speculative and fluctuant nature.
The Speech can be found here.
CENTRAL BANK ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP APPOINTMENTS
On 16 January, the Central Bank announced three new appointments at director level in its Financial Conduct pillar. The financial conduct pillar was established following a restructuring of the financial regulation division in 2017 and the three new directors will report to Director General, Financial Conduct, Derville Rowland. The three appointed directors are: Gráinne McEvoy as Director of Consumer Protection (previously Head of Securities and Markets Supervision Division); Seanna Cunningham as Director of Enforcement and Anti-Money Laundering (previously Head of Enforcement Advisory Division); and Colm Kincaid appointed to the role of Director of Securities and Markets Supervision (previously Head of Consumer Protection). The directors are to be members of the Central Bank's Senior Leadership Committee and their roles are to take immediate effect.
The Central Bank’s press release is here.