The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment has made Orders commencing the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Act 2021 (2021 Act) with effect from 6 July 2022 (save for section 35) and the establishment of the new Corporate Enforcement Authority with effect from 7 July 2022. For a comprehensive review of the legislation see our earlier update here.
The 2021 Act was signed into law on 22 December 2021. A typographical cross-referencing error in section 11 of the 2021 Act was corrected under the Redundancy Payments (Amendment) Act 2022.
The 2021 Act is significant in that it establishes a new stand-alone statutory body known as the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) to perform the functions conferred on it under the legislation. The primary functions of the CEA are to investigate suspected offences and non-compliance by companies and their officers with their duties under the Companies Act 2014. All functions previously vested in the Director of Corporate Enforcement are now transferred to the CEA. The establishment of the CEA as an agency is intended to grant it more autonomy in certain matters, including the recruitment of specialist Garda staff and forensic accountants. Announcing its establishment, the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, commented that the CEA now has
“real teeth, making sure it has the autonomy and resources to thoroughly investigate suspected wrongdoing, such as fraudulent trading and larger, more complex company law breaches”.
The commencement of the 2021 Act and the establishment of the CEA is part of a series of measures on the part of the government to tackle white collar crime and corruption in Ireland. Other measures include the implementation of the Hamilton Review Group Report published in December 2020, which we previously wrote about here.
The 2021 Act also makes some technical amendments to the Companies Act 2014, which are outside the scope of this note.
We will continue to keep you apprised of developments relevant to your business. To discuss this recent development further or its impact on your business, please contact your usual William Fry contact or any member of our corporate crime team.