On 26 April 2021, the Government published the Legislative Programme for Summer 2021. The programme contains a number of pieces of legislation pertaining to financial services, some of which include:

Priority legislation for Summer 2021 Bills subject to pre legislative scrutiny during Summer 2021
Consumer Protection (Regulation of Retail Credit Firms) Bill Consumer Rights Bill
European Stability Mechanism (Amendment) Bill Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill
Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill Central Bank (Amendment) Bill

Claire Scannell, professional support lawyer: "It is worth noting that the Central Bank (Amendment) Bill, the legislation due to introduce the Individual Accountability Framework ("IAF"), including the Senior Executive Accountability Regime ("SEAR"), remains listed as legislation "expected to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny" during the Summer 2021 session. It is Matheson's understanding that the Heads of Bill are expected to be brought to Government for approval and published before the Summer recess, but this is subject to ongoing engagement with the Attorney General's Office on the detail of the Heads of Bill.

The Central Bank in a recent speech delivered by Derville Rowland, Director General Financial Conduct at the Central Bank, confirmed that it continues to work with the Department of Finance to develop the IAF, to bring the legislative proposals forward as soon as possible, but provided no further detail on the matter.

The most recent guidance from the Central Bank came from Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Ed Sibley, during his presentation to the Institute of Directors on 17 February 2021. During this event, Mr Sibley advised that once the legislation is finalised, the Central Bank will conduct a consultation process with industry prior to implementation of the IAF. Following conclusion of the formal consultation process, there will be a transition period for firms to prepare for implementation of the IAF, however, he was of the view that this period will not be long. While the exact detail of what the IAF will look like is not yet clear, Ed Sibley advised that there are a lot of similarities to the UK regime and therefore firms can, and should, be taking action today to make sure they are prepared for when the IAF is introduced. On this basis, it would be prudent for firms to begin now to set the ground work for when the legislation is enacted.

While we await the IAF legislation, the Government has delivered on its promise to prioritise the Consumer Protection (Regulation of Retail Credit and Credit Servicing Firms) Bill 2021 (the "2021 Bill"). The 2021 Bill was initiated in Dáil Éireann on 23 June 2021.

The explanatory memorandum to the 2021 Bill succinctly identifies the primary objectives of the Bill as being:

  • to amend the Central Bank Act 1997 in order to extend the Central Bank authorisation requirements to persons carrying on hire-purchase or consumer-hire business or providing credit indirectly and persons carrying on business relating to hire-purchase or consumer-hire agreements or the indirect provision of credit;
  • to provide for the collection and publication of information by the Central Bank on credit agreements, hire-purchase agreements and consumer-hire agreements and for other related purposes;
  • to amend the Consumer Credit Act 1995 to provide for a limit on the interest rate that consumers may be charged under credit agreements and hire-purchase agreements;
  • and to provide for a requirement to include the annual percentage rate in a hire-purchase agreement and for other related purposes.

As Dáil Éireann will begin a 6 week summer recess on 14 July it is unlikely that the 2021 Bill will progress further before Autumn (it is not specifically scheduled for discussion over the next week or so). However, we will update clients as it progresses through the Houses of the Oireachtas. "

On 26 May 2021 Matheson's PSL Faculty published its Horizon Tracker to take account of the developments in the Summer Legislative Programme. The Horizon Tracker provides a snapshot of a selection of current, upcoming and proposed Irish and EU legislation. It identifies and summarises key Irish and EU legislative initiatives, setting out the current status of each, and the next steps for proposed and draft legislation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.