INTERNATIONAL: IRELAND - PUBLIC ENFORCEMENT - CIVIL FINES

Ireland: “Out of step” - Coping with its constitutional concerns about civil fines

The absence of civil fines in Ireland means that it is ‘out of step’ with most other EU Member States. This article explains how the Irish Constitution affects the design of the public enforcement model. It highlights several steps that have been taken by the legislature to strengthen public enforcement of competition law (including criminal provisions) within the perceived confines of the Constitution. It offers an insight into the struggle by competition law stakeholders (comprising EU and Irish authorities) to align the Irish enforcement regime more closely with the EU approach to fining.

I. Introduction 1. Ireland has been described as being “out of step” with most other EU Member States where civil/administrative fines are a key element of the toolkit to enforce domestic/EU competition law. [1] The lack of such fines places Ireland as an outlier in the EU landscape at a time when convergent enforcement of EU competition law is increasingly under the spotlight. This article contributes to the topical discussion on convergent enforcement by taking the perspective of a Member State whose divergence risks being misunderstood. 2. This article starts with an overview of the pre-2004 public enforcement model in Ireland. It explains how the model’s design was tempered by provisions of the Irish Constitution which restrict the granting of competence to impose fines. Next, it

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Mary Catherine Lucey, Ireland: “Out of step” - Coping with its constitutional concerns about civil fines, May 2017, Concurrences N° 2-2017, Art. N° 84009, www.concurrences.com

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