Minister McEntee Welcomes Passage of Bill Giving Effect to Major Insurance Reforms
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD and Minister of State for Law Reform James Browne have welcomed the passage of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2023 through its final stages in Dáil Éireann. The Bill includes a range of reforms, including to duty of care legislation – a major insurance reform measure.
It will amend the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995 in relation to the duty of care and is an important part of the government’s Action Plan on Insurance Reform.
The changes will ensure that businesses, community groups and organisers of events fulfil their duty of care responsibilities, while also acknowledging the importance of personal responsibility of visitors, recreational users and trespassers.
The Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2023 has now been passed by both Houses and will be referred to the President of Ireland to be signed into law.
It also contains other, wide-ranging legislative amendments will help improve access to justice and make civil processes more efficient, streamlined and people-centred.
These include measures on bankruptcy, legal services, data protection, naturalisation and Irish citizenship, as well as reforms to occupiers’ liability.
Minister McEntee said, “these measures strike a new and reasonable balance between the responsibilities of the owner or operator of a premises to keep their customers and visitors safe, and what individuals themselves must do when entering a business, club or community building for example. The passage of this legislation marks an important step in our efforts to make insurance more available and cheaper.”
Minister Browne said, “this legislation has brought forward a number of important law reforms, across a broad range of areas. The legislation extends it’s influence to various aspects of individuals’ lives and has the potential to create positive and tangible differences.”
The Bill contain four key developments regarding Occupiers’ Duty of Care:
• Inserting into primary law a number of recent court decisions which rebalance the duty of care owed by occupiers to visitors and recreational users.
• Changing the standard to clarify that when the occupier of a property has acted with reckless disregard for a visitor or customer, it is the standard of reckless disregard rather than reasonable grounds which should apply in relation to any consideration of liability.
• Limits to the circumstances in which a court can impose liability on the occupier of a premises where a person has entered onto premises for the purpose of committing an offence.
• Allowing for a broader range of scenarios where it can be shown that a visitor or customer has voluntarily assumed a risk resulting in harm.
Minster McEntee added, “I am committed to improving access to justice for everyone and making our civil processes more efficient, streamlined and people-centred. This bill addresses a number of issues that may pose obstacles to achieving justice in personally challenging legal processes such as bankruptcy, and the judicial complaints process.”
“The updates will also introduce measures to increase efficiencies in the naturalisation process and reduce delays for people waiting to become Irish citizens. I am delighted that this bill has passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas and would like to thank all of the officials who have worked hard to bring this complex, but important piece of legislation to fruition.”
The Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2023 also contains amendments to matters including Irish nationality and citizenship, court offices, bankruptcy, international protection, data protection, immigration and legal services.
Legislation governing the granting of Irish citizenship will be changed. The period of time a non-Irish child born in Ireland must wait before they can be naturalised will be reduced from five to three years.
Numerous changes will be made to legislation related to the Courts and Court officers, all of which are designed to introduce further efficiencies into the operation of the Court Service. One example is the creation of a centralised office to administer the summoning of juries, in addition to enabling the Courts Service to designate any court office as a centralised office for the purpose of carrying out specified court business.
Minister Browne added, “along with Minister McEntee, I am very pleased that this bill has now completed its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas. This legislation will assist in achieving many of the strategic goals set out in the Justice Plan 2023. A core goal has been making access to justice easier and equitable; by modernising and rationalising a number of administrative processes this bill does just that. Ultimately, the enactment of this legislation will contribute to our work of ensuring a safe, fair and inclusive Ireland.”