The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the statutory body responsible for the enforcement of domestic and EU competition law in the State.
Section 9 (5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the Commission is independent in the performance of its statutory functions. As investigation and enforcement matters are part of the day-to-day operational work of the Commission, I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, have no direct function in these matters.
I understand that the CCPC’s investigation concerning suspected breaches of competition law in the motor insurance sector is on-going. This investigation is examining whether insurers, brokers and industry associations engaged in anti-competitive price signalling and information sharing by openly signalling upcoming increases in motor insurance premiums in the State. The CCPC recently confirmed in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation (01/10/19) that it is a large investigation and that it has examined considerable information and potential lines of enquiry. The CCPC has obtained approximately 1.4 million emails and documents from parties under investigation and held 55 witness summons hearings.
In relation to personal contract plans (PCP), the CCPC conducted a study of the market and published its report in March 2018. This report included a number of recommendations for policy makers to consider for greater consumer protection in the sector. The CCPC continues to raise awareness and provide information to consumers on this topic, most recently conducting a public awareness campaign in May 2019. My colleague, the Minister for Finance, has recently published the Consumer Protection Regulation of Retail Credit Firms Bill, which will extend the jurisdiction of the Central Bank to cover hire purchase agreements, including PCP, and a wider definition of consumer credit.