The Government approved the priority drafting of a Bill on the basis of the General Scheme of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2018 on 4 December 2018. The Bill is one of the main actions in the Government’s package of “Measures to enhance Ireland’s corporate, economic and regulatory framework”, published in November 2017. It will establish the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (the ODCE) as an agency, rather than as an Office of the Department, with a commission structure.
My Department worked with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and received a stamped copy of the Bill on 24 July 2019.
Following Government approval, the General Scheme of the Bill was submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation for pre-legislative scrutiny. The Committee considered the General Scheme with Officials from my Department on 5 February 2019 and the Director of Corporate Enforcement on 19 February 2019. The Chair of the Company Law Review Group and the Law Reform Commission appeared before the Committee on 2 April 2019.
In April 2019, I understand the Joint Committee decided to seek a submission from the Director of Corporate Enforcement in relation to the case of the Director of Public Prosecutions V Seán FitzPatrick. This is being sought under the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013, in light of certain protections for the Director and his Office that the Act affords. I understand the Committee has proceeded to seek the necessary approvals and that these will necessitate motions in Dáil and Seanad Éireann.
I intend to publish the Bill once the Joint Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny process is complete.