Construction Industry Regulation Update
Is this the end of Cowboy Builders?
The General Scheme of the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017 is expected to be implemented in January 2018 under which all building contractors and sub-contractors operating in Ireland will be required to register with the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI). This Register was established on a voluntary basis in March 2014 by the Construction Industry Federation as a means of increasing regulation of the building sector and provide assurance to consumers who engage the services of builders and contractors.
By accessing the register online, members of the public are able to view details of registered contractors, including their category of registration i.e. house builder, plasterer, civil engineer etc. Compulsory registration with CIRI will serve as an essential measure for consumer protection by ensuring quality and competence. Analysis (RIA) conducted by the Department of Housing has noted that public confidence in the construction industry will be restored following the “legacy of building failures” over recent years such as Long Boat Quay, Carrickmines Green and Beacon South Quarter.
Registered contractors will be required to comply with a statutory code of conduct which will cover matters such as professionalism, competence, advertising and record keeping and quality customer service. Registered contractors will be required to meet annual Continuous Professional Development requirements in addition to making a statutory declaration that they have not been convicted under health and safety or building control legislation. It will be an offence under the legislation for a contractor to undertake building works in the State without being registered with CIRI. The penalty for doing so will be a Class A fine and/or a maximum of 12 months’ imprisonment. It has not yet been determined what constitutes a Class A fine.
The new legislation provides for a complaints procedure against registered contractors. Members of the public who have engaged the services of a registered contractor can make a written complaint to the Admissions and Registration Board citing areas of improper conduct, poor professional performance and breach of registration requirements. The legislation also sets out six specific grounds on which a complaint may be made, ranging from a contractor undertaking a type of work for which they are not registered or are not exempt from registration, to failure of the contractor to discharge the level of competence required.
The Admissions and Registration Board will have the power to conduct investigations into the registered contractor’s alleged misconduct and may impose a range of punitive measures ranging from advising the registered contractor in respect of the matter complained of to removing their name from the register completely. Registered contractors whose names have been removed from the Register will be able to apply for it to be restored upon direction by the Board only, which may include conditions on the restoration.
Registration is mandatory for all builders and contractors, including sole traders. The cost of doing so is expected to be €600 (plus VAT). However, the Department of Housing’s RIA notes that once the register is in place, economies of scale will serve to reduce the cost of registration.
Copyright © Alban O’Callaghan and Andrew Clarke, McKeever Solicitors, 6th October 2017.
This article is a general recital of the decision on the subject and is not intended to be a complete statement of the Law. Specific legal advice must be sought on a case by case basis. For further information, please contact Andrew Clarke or Alban O’Callaghan.
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