Common Legal Heritage and Laws

Ireland shares a very close common legal heritage with England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Ireland uses the common law system which provides the basic rules of law in many areas relevant to trade and doing business. Irish common law is almost identical to that in the United Kingdom. Accordingly many of the basic foundational areas of business law are wholly or largely identical. English cases and precedents are usually followed in Irish courts.

Ireland was part of the United Kingdom until 1922 and many of the important statutes relevant to doing law are in fact the same statutes enforce in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. For example, the cornerstone commercial law statutes such as the partnership act, the sale of goods act, the bills of exchange act, the bills of sale act and many more are either wholly identical or largely identical with either no amendments or similar amendments effected over time.

Much Irish statute law is based on UK Statute Law. Accordingly Irish legislation in the areas such as companies law and intellectual property are extremely similar. In addition over 45 years of European Union law has made a great deal of Irish law and UK law identical for that reason. The UK will reenact the entire EU law as domestic UK law so that this further similarity derived from EU law is likely to endure for a very long time.

Similar Legal Systems

It is not only the laws that are similar. The legal systems including, in particular, the role of the judge legal procedure laws of evidence and the organisation of legal professionals are almost identical in Ireland to that in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

There is a direct correspondence of the court structure. There is a High Court Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in Ireland just as in the United Kingdom. Circuit courts are the equivalent of the County court. The district court is the equivalent of the Magistrates Court and the lower civil jurisdiction of the County court.

The common law trial is the basic mechanism for resolution of disputes and follows an almost identical format in both jurisdictions. Barristers in each jurisdiction may be admitted in the other with relatively little formality reflecting this very high degree of alignment.

Arbitration and mediation play much the same role in the Irish system as the UK systems. Dublin has sought to become a centre for arbitration adopting modern arbitration legislation within the last decade reflecting leading international conventions.

Similar Organisation and Practice

The Irish legal profession is organised into barristers and solicitors in the same way as England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Irish and English solicitors may re-qualify in the other jurisdiction with relatively little additional exams and formality, reflecting the close alignment of practice.

Irish commercial practice is very much driven by UK commercial practice. The precedents and forms of agreement, the negotiation arrangements and practice in commercial law in the Republic of Ireland are largely based on those in the United Kingdom. Accordingly, a UK business will find the Irish legal landscape extremely familiar. In contrast, the legal heritage of Europe is radically different from that in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Contrast to European Tradition

The continental civil law tradition is wholly different from that in common law jurisdictions. It is based exclusively on written codes. There are no principles which are based on case law and precedent. The judge’s role is less dynamic.

The practice of dispute resolution and trial of issues is wholly different notwithstanding apparent similarities form. Legal professions are differently organised and basic commercial practice is wholly different.

Regulatory Landscape

  • Ireland’s strong legal and regulatory landscape makes the country an attractive and stable place to do business.
  • Irish regulators across different sectors have a strong reputation for excellence. Key bodies in the Irish regulatory landscape include the Central Bank of Ireland, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the Data Protection Commission.- The HPRA boasts an international reputation in regulatory compliance.

    – The Central Bank of Ireland is the regulator of all Financial Services firms in Ireland.

    – The Irish Data Protection Commission has a dedicated unit for multinational companies.

    – The NSAI is Ireland’s standards and certification authority.

  • Ireland participates in EU regulatory fora and is represented by the relevant national authorities at the European level.
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