STEP

Title Research

Ireland

Ireland is located off the north-west coast of Europe. It is approximately 60 miles from the mainland of the UK and, although an island, is very much part of the European Union (EU). Ireland consists of two separate legal jurisdictions – the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is entirely self-governing through a Parliament based in Dublin. Some statutes from as early as 1634 are still recognised as being in effect, and other statutes from the late 13th century are technically still on the statute books. Between the Act of Union in 1801 and Government of Ireland Act 1922, the entire island of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 and Government of Ireland Act 1922, the island of Ireland was separated into two entities, which have since maintained their respective legal systems. These entities are the Republic of Ireland (consisting of 26 counties) and Northern Ireland (consisting of six counties).

STEP Ireland website

STEP Ireland branch page

New developments
  • The Finance (No.2) Act 2008 in Ireland introduced a reporting requirement for professional persons including non Irish resident professional persons. The reporting requirement arises where a professional person is ‘concerned with’ the establishment of a settlement, the settlor is Irish resident and the trustees are non Irish resident.
  • The Irish Revenue Commissioners have also announced an investigation into the tax treatment of property, assets and funds settled by persons on trusts and offshore structures, which commenced on 1 September 2009.
  • The Charities Act 2009 provides for the reform of Irish charity law. It aims to ensure greater accountability by charities, to enhance public trust and confidence and to increase transparency in the charities sector.

1. Introduction

a. History and background

Ireland is located off the north-west coast of Europe. It is approximately 60 miles from the mainland of the UK and, although an island, is very much part of the European Union (EU). Ireland consists of two separate legal jurisdictions – the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is entirely self-governing through a Parliament based in Dublin. Some statutes from as early as 1634 are still recognised as being in effect, and other statutes from the late 13th century are technically still on the statute books. Between the Act of Union in 1801 and Government of Ireland Act 1922, the entire island of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 and Government of Ireland Act 1922, the island of Ireland was separated into two entities, which have since maintained their respective legal systems. These entities are the Republic of Ireland (consisting of 26 counties) and Northern Ireland (consisting of six counties).

The currency in the Republic of Ireland is the euro (EUR).

b. Legal system

The legal system bears many similarities to those of both the UK and the US. This is especially true in relation to trust and estate law.

While English is predominantly the language in use, the Irish language (Gaelic) is the official first national language in the Republic of Ireland. It is taught in all schools, and all official documents are published bilingually in Gaelic and in English. Even so, Gaelic is not commonly spoken in the cities and survives mainly in small rural communities known as the Gaeltacht, located mainly in the western portion of the country.

The law comprises the three elements of constitutional law, statutory law and common law. The Constitution of 1937 is the basic law of the state.

The Irish Parliament consists of two elected houses: the Dail and the Seanad. In order to be valid, any statute enacted by the Irish Parliament (the Oireachtas) must not be repugnant to any term in the Constitution. In addition to statutes, the Oireachtas issues supplementary legislation through statutory instruments. These tend to cover short administration matters such as commencement dates for portions of legislation or changes of monetary amounts or limits authorised in acts.

The common law of Ireland was imported from England during the 17th century when English common law replaced the Irish system of laws (the Brehon laws). There is now a considerable jurisprudence of reported decisions from the Irish courts in all aspects of economic and social life.

In 1973 the Republic of Ireland became part of the then European Economic Community. Since then its legislative, political and social structures have been increasingly influenced by law emanating from European Community institutions (such as the Commission and the Council of Ministers), leading to a high degree of uniformity with other members of the EU.

Editorial board
Richard Grogan
PC Moore & Co Solicitors, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Nora Lillis TEP
William Fry Solicitors, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

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