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Driving Without Insurance – What Can Happen?

All motorists who drive their vehicle in a public place must be covered by a valid policy of insurance, and must be able to produce same when demanded by An Garda Siochana. It is an offence to drive without valid insurance, and it is a separate offence to be unable to produce the policy documents when demanded. The main governing legislation is found within Section 56 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as amended). There is also a related offence, which occurs where the owner of a vehicle permits another person, who they know is not covered by insurance, to drive their vehicle in a public place. The owner, as well as the driver, can be prosecuted in those circumstances. A motorist can find themselves summonsed for driving without insurance when they thought that they had a perfectly valid policy in place. This sometimes occurs where a person committed another offence, such as driving without a valid driving licence, or in some other way invalidated their policy with their insurer (e.g. failing to disclose previous conviction), thus leaving them without cover. For a variety of reasons, many motorists and vehicle owners still find themselves summonsed to court to answer an… Read More…



Capacity & Assisted Decision Making in Ireland

For many reasons, adult persons may, at any time, encounter difficulty in making decisions on their own welfare, property and affairs, or may be unable entirely to make such decisions. Previously, where a person in that position had not prepared an Enduring Power of Attorney prior to losing capacity (if there had ever been such a point), the only avenue of assistance was the Wardship process. 2015, however, saw the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 enacted which seeks to provide new arrangements for a range of capacity related situations, avoiding the necessity of invoking the High Court where possible. Wardship When a person is unable to manage their affairs because of mental incapacity, an application can be made to the courts for them to become a Ward of Court. The court must make a decision as to whether they can manage their own affairs for their own benefit. If it is decided that the person cannot manage their own property because of mental incapacity, a Committee is appointed to control the assets on the Ward’s behalf. The Committee means the person(s) into whose care the Ward is committed. Once a person is made a Ward, certain decisions such as to medical… Read More…



Irish immigration permission schemes for migrant entrepreneurs & investors

Concerned that Ireland was not doing enough to attract wealthy non-EEA investors, the Government launched the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) and the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) schemes in 2012. Both schemes are immigration permission programmes aimed at assisting migrant entrepreneurs and investors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are prepared to invest in Ireland for the purposes of saving or creating jobs. While the Irish immigration system is broadly considered as being ‘business friendly’, it was not seen as being sufficiently friendly to high-worth individuals. All applications are submitted to an Evaluation Committee, comprised of relevant State agencies, such as the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Enterprise Ireland. The decision for approval is made by the relevant Minister, whose decision is final and is not subject to a review or appeal. Unsuccessful applicants can, however, make a new application at a later date. Applications will only be accepted within certain set ‘windows’. Immigration The schemes allow approved principal investors and close family members enter the State on multi-entry visas and reside here for up to five years, with possible further renewal. Notably, Ireland does not need to be the investor’s principal residence, but they must visit Ireland at least… Read More…



Sentencing: Mitigating and Aggravating Factors

In a criminal trial, once there has been a plea or a finding of guilty, the court may proceed to sentencing. Sentencing in Ireland is a judicial function, except circumscribed by legislation within the bounds of the separation of powers. Judicial discretion is the cornerstone of Irish sentencing policy. It is normally the prosecution which opens the sentencing hearing by presenting the facts of the offence and summarising the evidence. The role of the prosecution in sentencing is ostensibly to provide the court with information, though in practice attempts are often made to influence the court’s sentencing decision. The prosecution further presents to the court evidence of the offender’s ‘antecedents’, that is: criminal record, and ‘character’. A member of An Garda Siochana may be called in this regard to given evidence of, inter alia, the offender’s age, personal circumstances and previous convictions. Character refers generally to factors such as: family background, education, employment, and other details such as income and personal situation since arrest, including whether or not the offender was on bail or in custody. The rules of evidence are relaxed in relation to character evidence, insofar as hearsay evidence may be adduced. Once the prosecution has outlined the offender’s antecedents and character, the… Read More…



Are Pre-Nuptial Agreements enforceable in Ireland?

The question as to whether a prospective husband and wife should agree a Prenuptial Agreement (also known as an antenuptial agreement) is one which which often arises in family law practice. The answer, as with any legal question, depends heavily on the individual facts of the spouses. Frequently, a prospective spouse will give serious consideration to a Prenuptial Agreement before a second (or subsequent) marriage, however its benefits apply equally to spouses entering their first marriage. In brief, a Prenuptial Agreement is a legal contract entered into prior to date of marriage which commonly includes provisions for how property and assets would be divided, as well as any financial payments, should the marriage break down and lead to separation or divorce. Frequently, a prospective spouse may feel an understandable reluctance to consider such an outcome before marriage takes place. However, taking care to put in place appropriate arrangements should things not work out as we plan is always prudent. Is it enforceable? While until relatively recently it was considered that the Irish legislative setting was not one which was conducive to the use of Prenuptial Agreements, the introduction of Divorce in this jurisdiction and the major socio-economic and population changes… Read More…



Criminal Legal Aid

A person charged or accused of a criminal offence will find themselves facing the full force of the criminal justice system and, depending on their own experience, in unfamiliar and intimidating surroundings. In an attempt to offer a measure of protection to the accused and to re-balance the scales, provision is made for that person to have the advice and representation of a solicitor, both in the Garda station and in the courts. Where the accused is of limited financial means, they can avail of a number of legal aid schemes to cover the cost of legal advice and representation. No financial contribution is required, though a statement of means will have to be completed and vouched. It is an offence to knowingly make a false statement or conceal a material fact for the purpose of obtaining legal aid. Such an offence carries a penalty of a fine or imprisonment or both. Garda Station Legal Aid Under the Garda Station Legal Advice Revised Scheme, free legal advice can be provided to those detained under certain legislation in Garda stations, providing they satisfy a means test and are legally entitled to consult with a solicitor. The scheme covers the cost of consultations with a… Read More…



Common Public Order Offences in Ireland

Public order offences in Ireland are governed primarily by the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 (“the Act”), and are largely concerned with the behaviour and conduct of people in public places. In order to come within the legislation, a person must be in a ‘public place’, which gets a very broad definition in the legislation. Affray, violent disorder and riot can take place in a private place. These offences are among the most prevalent in Ireland and many people who would otherwise never come to the attention of the courts can find themselves, sometimes but not always through alcohol, in a Garda station or before a District Court judge. A person may be arrested without warrant by a member of An Garda Siochana if suspected of having committed a public order offence under the Act. It is a separate offence under the Act to fail to give, when asked, one’s name and address to a Garda who suspects a person of being involved in certain specified offences. The Gardai also have a power of seizure under the Act. Very often, a person accused under the Act will find themselves accused of a combination of offences. Particular risk arises where an incident occurs with a… Read More…



Buying out the Ground Rent: Turning Leasehold into Freehold

If a property owner owns the leasehold interest they own the building, for a defined period, but not the ground (the ‘ground’ part of Ground Rent, below) upon which it is built. Leasehold interest in this regard is distinct from private residential letting agreements. Ownership of the freehold interest gives free title, outright ownership of the building and land that lasts forever. Leaseholders do have the right to buy out the freehold (see below), but there is no strict requirement that they do so. Ground Rent The rent payable by a leaseholder is referred to as Ground Rent. It is usually a small sum payable per annum, and is very different from market rent. It is quite common for people who hold property under a lease to neglect paying the ground rent, indeed oftentimes it is never demanded. Certain companies, however, have en masse acquired the interest of the lessors to demand the ground rent, and a letter of demand from such a company can sometimes be the first a leaseholder knows about the liability to pay. Arrears will often be demanded, however by operation of the Statute of Limitations, a Lessor cannot recover rent which is more than six… Read More…



High Court Family Law Proceedings

Here in Ireland both the Circuit Court and High Court have jurisdiction to deal with Judicial Separation and Divorce proceedings. While the Circuit Court has a central role in the majority of cases, cases involving larger assets or income are properly heard in the High Court. The High Court also hears appeals from decisions of the Circuit Court. All such cases are heard ‘in camera’, which brings an important element of privacy to the proceedings. The main issues which arise to be resolved in High Court matrimonial proceedings are generally: Custody and access Maintenance and support payments for spouse and/or dependent children Safeguards being implemented to protect maintenance and support payments Ownership of the family home or its sale, along with any other property Pension benefits Issues of domestic violence The decision to initiate proceedings in the High Court will be influenced by a number of factors including the value of any marital assets including income of one or both spouses, the jurisdictional competence of the court, the types of Orders sought, and the legal complexity of the matter. Proper Provision Prior to the granting of a decree of judicial separation or divorce the Courts are required to make ‘proper provision’, such… Read More…



Making a Claim after an Accident or Injury in the Workplace

Statistics on workplace accidents make for grim reading. While all employees at to some degree at risk of accident, according to the Health & Safety Authority (“HSA”), those who work on farms, the young, the old and men are especially so. Ireland continues to be above the EU average on workplace fatalities. Workplace accidents involve a wide range of costs and effects for both employers and employees. The HSA is the body with overall responsibility for health and safety at work and for ensuring compliance with governing legislation. In light of this, the legislature has enacted specific legislation to provide for the safety of people at work, in particular the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005 and 2010 (“the Acts”). The Acts apply to all employers, employees (anyone engaged under a contract for services and self-employed persons in the workplace, and sets out various rights, obligations and sanctions for breach. On foot of the Acts, specific health and safety provisions have been set out in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. Employees’ Duties Comply with governing laws and take care for their own safety and health and that of others Not be under the influence of any intoxicant… Read More…



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