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The Companies (Statutory Audits) Act

Louder than the Lions

The Companies (Statutory Audits) Act was officially enacted on July 25th 2018 following a lengthy period of concern and a debate on July 10th. This Act mostly focuses on implementing updated to the EU Audit directive and on implementing appropriate auditing legislation in Ireland.

Unfortunately, as tends to happen in Irish Business Law, there were some poorly thought out amendments made to this act which have been major causes for concern over recent weeks. One example of an area which was in dire need of clarification and change was in Sections 9 and 10 of the bill which removes the option to apply for exemptions after falling late (S. 343), and requires smaller companies to apply to the High Court for any exemptions. Previously, the CRO (Companies Registration Office) had themselves stated that it would be cost prohibitive to involve the High Courts in these matters, so evidently these were clauses which may create more issues than they were worth. It was originally thought that these new clauses were created in order to prevent repeat offences, but it was ultimately felt by business owners that this may not be the best way to deal with this issue, as Revenue themselves clamp down more effectively on these issues.

There have been many lobbying against these changes and reports suggest that this kind of major immediate change could have negative consequences on the smaller businesses which form the backbone of Irish businesses. It seemed that there would be no movement on these decisions as the Ministers seemed entirely steadfast in their decisions. This, along with numerous letters issued to local TD’s eventually lead to the debate of July 10th.

Following on from this debate there was finally some good news recently for accountants in practice as their voices were finally heard and it was decided that the proposed amendments were utterly inappropriate and not feasible. Companies who find themselves falling late can still make an application under S.343 for an exemption or to extend their filing date to avoid fees mounting up.

Should you have any concerns or queries about these or any other business and financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we are always happy to be of service.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Data Protection, General Data Protection Regulation, EU, Law, GDPR

As the deluge of GDPR and “we have updated our privacy policy” emails begins to slow down somewhat and the dust settles on these new regulations thundering into our lives, and following on from our recent post, we thought it might be a good time to explore some of the key concepts associated with the new General Data Protection Regulations. In relation to GDPR, what are the rights of the individual and what constitutes a breach?

Two key terms that you will see time and time again in relation to the new regulations are Controller and Processor. Essentially, the organisation is the Controller who is responsible for deciding what data is processed and in what manner. The Controller is also responsible for ensuring compliance. The Processor on the other hand is the employee or individual who acts on the behalf of the Controller, and may generally be the person who deals with personal data on a day to day basis.

The below are the key rights of the individual in relation to their personal data:

  • The Right to be Informed – All individuals should be informed that their data is to be stored.
  • The Right of Access – Individuals should be able to request a viewing of the personal details held on them. The organisation has one month to comply with this request.
  • The Right to Rectification – Individuals are entitled to request changes to data that is incomplete or incorrect. Again, the organisation will have one month to comply.
  • The Right to Erasure – This is not an absolute right, in that it is not a guarantee, but the individual has the right to request all data be wiped on them.
  • The Right to Restrict Processing – The individual can request that processing be put on hold until they can verify accuracy.
  • The Right to Data Portability – The individual has the right to obtain and re-use their data across different devices. The information must be accessible to them.
  • The Right to Object – All individuals have the right to request that the organisation stop processing their data immediately, unless the data is proven to have legitimate contractual or legal basis to be stored and processed.

The issue with living in such a fast paced digital age is that data is always at risk of being breached and with these new regulations, a breach can result in a serious breach of human rights as well as a fine of up to €20m or 4% of annual turnover not to mention a loss of client confidence and damage to company reputation.

Interestingly, in terms of GDPR, access is not the only form of breach. A breach can take the form of an incorrect email or postal address resulting in details being sent to the wrong person, the destruction of personal data without consent, or the ultimate loss of the personal data whether digitally or manually. All changes made to personal data need to be consented to.

It is advisable to appoint a data protection officer for this role who is independent and able to report any incidences to the Board without interference. Should a serious data breach occur, the organisation has 72 hours to report it to the Data Protection Commission, and it is advised that everything be reported, even if there are only suspicions of a breach.

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

GDPR: What does it Mean?

It would be impossible to have missed the impending GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) being implemented recently on 25/05/2018 as we are all flooded with emails regarding personal data and it became almost impossible to do anything without being informed of a changed privacy policy. This is all good news however as the GDPR will now mean that there are more strict standards across the board and create a new level of trust across a single digital economy. With these new standards and requirements now in place, there will be no grace period for companies to be eased in to the new standards due to the fact that the announcement was made in April 2016.We have briefly spoken about the GDPR before it came into effect and thought that today we would talk about some of the main changes and actions to be taken going forward.

The GDPR contains a much broader definition of what constitutes personal data than that which exists in the Irish Constitution. Now, personal data will be defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable living person. For example, online identifiers now constitute personal data. The new rules will apply to both automated personal data and manual filing systems. The advice here is to encrypt all personal data to a good standard as even anonymous data can be included depending on the ease with which the data can be accessed and combined with other identifiers. All personal data which is stored will now need to be done only after confirming consent of the individual. Consent must be freely given, verifiable and confirmed through affirmative action. A pre-ticked box on a website will not legally constitute consent. The only situations in which it is permissible to share personal data without having consent will be in cases of national interest, or in the case of counselling services for children. A new definition within the GDPR is that of ‘sensitive personal data’. This is data such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, trade union memberships, religious beliefs or medical information. There are stricter rules in place for these forms of data, a higher standard of consent is required here.

Accountability is a key area in which the GDPR differs from previous regulation. Organisations are now required to demonstrate compliance with all GDPR principles. The best course of action is to take precautions to avoid a breach of regulations. When handling personal data take extra care with both standard and sensitive information. When asked to disclose any personal data be vigilant and ensure you identify the authority as legitimate.

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

BANKRUPT NO MORE

Recently, we discussed some proposed changes to bankruptcy terms in Ireland. We can now report that these legislative changes have been largely accepted by the government. These changes have been hailed as being one of the most positive changes to Irish bankruptcy law for the many people currently suffering from debt issues.

 

It has been reported recently that although these changes will be widely accepted, some minor changes may need to be made. As we previously stated, the main proposed change would be that the discharge term for bankruptcy is to be reduced from three years to one year. This would be a major change in Irish bankruptcy procedures and would allow for those individuals who have been made bankrupt to return to business far sooner than was previously possible.

 

An amendment has been suggested on the proposed document. It was originally stated that those who have been bankrupt for more than one year prior to legislation being passed would see their bankruptcy discharged after 3 months. It is suggested that the government may now amend this to six months. This will still allow for many people to have their bankruptcy period greatly shortened, and it is hoped we will then see many entrepreneurs surge back into the market.

 

Another major change to Irish bankruptcy proceedings is in relation to the seizure of family homes following bankruptcy. TD Willie Penrose who is the main driving force behind these changes has proposed in his bill that these properties must be sold within three years, or be returned.

 

There have been some whisperings of these changes making bankruptcy appear a more attractive option. IMHO Chief Executive David Hall has rubbished these claims stating that:

“Going bankrupt is a daunting process for anyone – subjecting yourself to having the knives and forks in your house counted by a third party to establish what asset value you have in your house.”

 

Indeed, the very idea of the word bankruptcy is an incredibly daunting notion for anyone to face. It is hoped, however that these new changes, whilst bringing Irish law into line with Northern Ireland and the UK, will also make the process somewhat less devastating. This perhaps will then assist in Irish recovery as we see some of our entrepreneurs and hard-working business owners who have fallen on hard times make a swifter return to business.

 

Once again, we hope that this clears up any confusion about the ongoing changes within bankruptcy law and procedures in Ireland. If you yourself are experiencing difficulty and would like to know more about the process, please don’t hesitate to give us a call here at DCA Accountants.

NEW COMPANIES ACT OF 2014

From June 1st 2015, the Companies Act of 2014 will come into effect. This new Act will replace the existing Companies act, which was in place from 1963-2013. This is the largest reform of Irish Business Law that we have seen in decades. Its purpose is to make running a business in Ireland easier. This new Act will carry on some of the features of its predecessor and will have a number of new features including:

  • All company directors must be over 18.
  • Existing private companies must choose their new company type: a private company limited by shares or as a Designated Activity Company (DCA).
  • A new company type will be created; a private company limited by shares can be registered with the CRO (Companies Registration Office). This company can be a single director company.
  • Private limited companies will be entitled to have a single director but all companies must retain the office of the company secretary.
  • All company directors who are subject to a foreign disqualification must file an appropriate form with the CRO.
  • There will be changes to the registration procedures, and required methods of notifying the CRO.
  • External companies will no longer be able to register a place of business.
  • As of June 1st 2015, all existing external companies registered as a place of business will be deleted.
  • A company will no longer be required to have an annual general physical meeting, instead an annual general written meeting will now suffice.
  • The existing duties of directors are translated into eight principle duties, which will apply to all directors.
  • Reintroduction of the requirement that directors provide compliance statements.
  • Some holding companies will be exempt from the obligation to prepare audited group financial statements where they and their subsidiaries do not exceed certain thresholds.

 

With all these changes in mind, what does this new legislation mean for you and your company?

 

The most important thing this means for you and your company is that integral changes to your business, whilst often stressful, must be made and this will be the ideal moment to begin deciding what changes can truly benefit your company.

 

Despite this legislation not coming into effect until June 1st, companies and their directors must now begin to prepare for these changes to come into effect.  At this juncture, it would be wise to begin looking at your company structure and making decisions about what structure and accompanying rules best suit your company.

For example you may want to remove the second “silent” director from the company that never had any involvement in the running of the business.

 

There will be a transition period of 18 months from June 1st to allow companies to act upon the relevant changes. If a private company has not chosen their new company type during this time, it will automatically become a new private limited company with a single-document constitution. This company type does not allow for the future changing of articles contained within its constitution.

 

This new default will naturally not be appropriate for all companies and this is a good moment to begin doing some housekeeping within your company. Taking a closer look at your company now may make all the difference in the future and, as always, DCA Accountants are available to provide any guidance necessary during this period of transition for your company.