Ireland: Law of Offshore
Table of Statutes
This is a non-exhaustive list of some of the main Irish statutes affecting low-tax status and non-resident business. The statutes are listed in alphabetical order – click on the statute for a fuller description of the statute, the legal regime it forms part of, or in some cases the text of the law.
Capital Gains Tax Act 1975
Central Bank Acts 1942 to 1997
Central Bank Act 1989
Central Bank Reform Act 2010
Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003
Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004
Companies Acts 1963 to 1998
Companies (Amendment) (no.2) Act 1999
E-Commerce Bill 1999
EU Second Banking Directive 89/646/EEC
European Communities (Life Assurance) Framework Regulations 1994
European Communities (Non-Life Assurance) Framework Regulations 1994
Film Board Act 1980
Finance Act 1980
Finance Act 1996
Finance Act 1999
Investment Limited Partnerships Act 1994
Limited Partnership Act 1907
Partnership Act 1890 (UK)
Stamp Act 1891 (UK)
Statutory Instrument No. 78 1989
Stock Exchange Act 1995
Taxes Consolidation Act 1997
Unit Trusts Act 1990
Completing the reform of Ireland’s financial regulatory system as recommended in the 1999 McDowell report, the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003 was passed.
Another Act had established the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority earlier in 2003, and the new bill gave the Authority a wide mandate to oversee the financial services sector, including the protection of consumers.
The bill provided for:
- A statutory Financial Services Ombudsman to deal with complaints against financial institutions;
- Consumer and Industry Consultative Panels to advise the Regulatory Authority;
- New reporting and auditing obligations for financial institutions as recommended in the Report of the Review Group on Auditing;
- Power for the Regulatory Authority to impose sanctions directly on financial institutions for failure to comply with regulatory requirements, subject to a right of appeal to the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal;
- A right of appeal to the Appeals Tribunal in relation to certain supervisory decisions of the Authority;
- New regulatory requirements for money transmission and bureau de change businesses to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism; and
- Miscellaneous other amendments to financial services legislation
The above provisions were transferred to the Central Bank Reform Act 2010, which also provide for the creation of a new single unitary body in the Central Bank of Ireland. This body replaced the related entities of the Central Bank, the Financial Services Authority and the Financial Regulator. The Central Bank of Ireland resumed its role of regulator for central bankin and financial regulation on October 1, 2010.
The Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004 Act created a statutory financial services ombudsman for consumers. Consultative consumer and industry panels have also been appointed where matters of policy and practice can be discussed. In addition, this legislation created new enforcement powers for the Financial Regulator including fining and public censure powers.
In September, 2004, the Department of Finance promoted further legislation intended to complement the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Acts 2003 and 2004, which had established the new regulatory structure for the financial services sector.
Among the goals of the legislation were to:
- Bring together in a single, modern legal text all of the primary legislation governing the regulation of the financial services sector (apart from the legislation related to company, tax etc issues).
- Provide a legal framework for achieving the Government's consumer protection and financial stability objectives in a way that does not impose a disproportionate burden on regulated entities
- Facilitate the international competitiveness of the financial services sector
- Conform to the principles set out in the Government's Regulating Better White Paper (Necessity, Effectiveness, Proportionality, Transparency, Accountability, Consistency)
- Reflect, in so far as possible, the single regulatory structure which has been put in place with the establishment of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority and the Financial Regulator's principles-based approach to regulation
- Achieve a balance between the high-level principles appropriate to primary legislation and the more detailed requirements that should be laid down by the Financial Regulator using its statutory powers
- Comply with the State's obligations under EU law.
In March 2010, Irish Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, welcomed the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the role of the Financial Regulator in response to the financial market crisis, which will form the basis for a new bill that will reform Irish financial services regulation.
"This is the first of a three stage legislative program to create a new fully-integrated structure for financial regulation, enhance the powers and functions of the Central Bank and consolidate existing legislation.”
“The financial regulatory reforms will address the problems identified by the Comptroller and Auditor General and respond as appropriate to his recommendations. This is an important element in a comprehensive program to put in place a domestic regulatory framework for financial services that meets government objectives for the stability of the financial system; providing for the effective and efficient supervision of financial institutions and markets, and safeguards to protect the interests of consumers and investors.”
The report, tabled in Ireland’s parliament on March 22, 2010, highlighted a number of areas where regulation should be revised, driven by lessons learnt by the financial crisis. These include: improving regulation applied to Irish financial institutions, including bolstering internal communications; the creation of crisis management plans to ensure international coordination rather than competition in the event of future crises; and greater oversight of the financial regulator and of Irish institutions, which could include annual reviews and more intensive stress testing of individual institutions' transactions and balances.
The report noted that, while enhanced financial regulation has now been put in place for institutions that required state support, going forward this should be extended to other institutions.
The Irish government began to introduce a number of to the financial regulatory structure. On March 30, 2010, the Minister for Finance published the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010. The purpose of the Bill was the first step to reform the current financial regulatory regime by dissolving the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority and creating a new fully integrated Central Bank, with a unitary board.
As a second step, Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011, was published in July, 2011. During the consultation process that followed, a number of new proposals were put forward relating to various key areas including; the regulation of debt management firms; powers to enable the Financial Service Ombudsman to name financial service providers; new information gathering powers for the Central Bank; changes to the Investor Compensation Act; the introduction of powers to allow the Bank establish customer redress schemes; and powers for the Bank to require auditor assurance statements be provided regarding a regulated financial service provider’s compliance with specified regulatory requirements.
The closing date for comments to the proposals was May 25, 2012. The Bill is expected to be enacted during 2013.