The Commissioners of Public Works on behalf of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are responsible for management of property under Sections 28,29,30 and 31 of the State Property Act; as a result of companies being dissolved either voluntarily or as a result of being struck off the Companies Register the assets of the company become vested in the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform can, if appropriate, waive his interest in property under Section 28 of the Act.
Under Section 28(2) of the State Property Act, 1954, personal property and land vested in or held in trust by a body corporate immediately prior to its dissolution, (other than personal property or land held by such body upon trust for another person) becomes property of the State in the person of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform until such time as the company is restored to the Register or the Minister waives (under Section 31 of the Act) the interest vested in him. This mechanism acts as a failsafe so that property is never ownerless. The Minister acquires an interest in property in the following circumstances:-
- the voluntary winding-up of companies;
- the involuntary liquidation of companies; and
- the striking off of companies from the Register of Companies.
The interest acquired by the Minister is described as a defeasible interest as it may be defeated by restoration of the company. Neither company nor property law require comprehensive and fully up-to-date asset records to be lodged with the Company Registration Office and the Property Registration Authority. Consequently, the only persons with a complete view of the assets held by a company at the time of its dissolution are the directors and officers of the company. As a result, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform only becomes aware that assets have vested in him by virtue of the State Property Act once an interested party has notified him.
In order to confirm that this land is vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform a formal application should be forwarded to the Office of Public Works, in the first instance. This application will be referred to the Chief State Solicitor's Office who in order to assess the legal issues of the application will request all necessary information from the applicant/s. The Chief State Solicitor's Office will then advise the Minister. Finally, the Minister having regard to the legalities and merits of the application will then at his discretion decide whether to waive his interest or not.