On 8 November, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, published the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013. This Bill will allow small companies to apply directly to the Circuit Court for examinership, a measure which is aimed at reducing the costs associated with an application for examinership for SMEs. There are a number of other provisions in the Bill, details of which are set out below.
The Bill is expected to be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming days and is expected to be signed into law before the year end.
Set out below is a synopsis of the provisions in the Bill. The first provision relates to examinership while the remaining provisions deal with unrelated areas:
An amendment to the existing examinership provisions for small private companies: This provision will allow small private companies to apply directly to the Circuit Court to have an examiner appointed instead of having to apply to the High Court first, as is currently the case. This is aimed at lowering costs and providing greater accessibility for small private companies to the examinership process by eliminating the need for High Court involvement. Small companies are those that satisfy two out of the following three conditions:
- Balance sheet not exceeding €4.4million;
- Turnover not exceeding €8.8million; and
- Number of employees not exceeding 50;
- Simplification of the process of e-filing by companies of annual returns: This provision will allow for a more efficient electronic filing of accounts with the Companies Registration Office by removing a true copy requirement. It will also reduce the administrative burden associated with the filing of accounts by companies;
- Director of Corporate Enforcement: A provision has been included in the Bill to allow specified regulatory authorities to disclose information relating to offences under the Companies Acts to the Director of Corporate Enforcement;
- Levy on statutory auditors and audit firms: A provision has been included to enable the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) to impose a levy on relevant statutory auditors and audit firms to defray the costs of carrying out the quality assurance function, which it is proposed will be transferred from the Recognised Accountancy Bodies to IAASA; and
- A provision to apply investigation and penalty systems to certain third country auditors/audit entities.