The Bill includes reforms in the areas of insurance, court processes and legal services.
The key focus of the Bill is to amend the terms of the Occupiers' Liability Act 1995 in a bid to reduce insurance costs. The new legislation also includes changes aimed at making the operation of the courts more effective and it will also clear the way for the introduction of partnerships between solicitors and barristers akin to the chambers system in the UK.
In respect of the Occupiers' Liability Act, the new legislation:
- Re-balances the duty of care owed by occupiers to visitors and recreational users;
- limits the circumstances in which a Court shall impose liability on the occupier of a premises where a person has entered onto that premises for the purpose of committing an offence; and
- allows for a much broader range of scenarios where it can be shown that a visitor or customer has voluntarily assumed risk which subsequently results in harm.
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has commented that these new measures are designed to strike a reasonable balance between the responsibilities of the owner and/or operator of a premises to keep their customers and visitors safe and what the individuals themselves must do when entering a business, club or community building.
The Bill also updates the operation of the Court system by:
- streamlining the system of jury selection;
- allowing a single Judge of the Court of Appeal to hear certain specified applications and appeals;
- confirming statutory powers of the President of the Circuit Court and the President of the District Court to issue practice directions;
- updating the qualifications for appointment as Master or Deputy Master of the High Court;
- outlining the circumstances in which a Country Registrar will cease to hold office or be removed from office;
- providing for an offence of obstruction or interference with a Sheriff in the course of his or her duties;
The Act allows for the introduction of legal partnerships between barristers and solicitors and between barristers and other barristers.
The new legislation also remains the current law in relation to the granting of Irish citizenship and makes other related changes.
The Data Protection Act 2018 will be changed to allow the District Courts to hear data protection actions and it also broadens the circumstances in which a reprimand can be issued by the Data Protection Commissioner.
If you have any queries about these or any other issues please contact Killian O'Reilly or Leanne Kiernan.
Written by Killian O'Reilly.
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