Legal Environment

flag Ireland Ireland: Legal Environment

In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
You must define precisely the seller's obligations and the methods of quality control. However the parties may not, by choice of a different legal system, avoid the application of the mandatory rules of the country that would otherwise apply to the situation.
Law Applicable to the Contract
Different types of contracts are possible: agency agreements and distribution agreements. Many agency agreements are covered by the EC (Commercial Agents) Regulations 1994. In the case of distribution, the Sale of Goods Act 1980 imposes obligations on a supplier subject to the terms of the contract.
The law applicable to Contractual Obligations Act, 1991 gave effect to the Convention formulated in Rome in 1980.
Advisable Incoterms
It's preferable to choose an incoterm FOB or CIF. Avoid EXW, if you don't want to have to take care of the transport.
Language of Domestic Contract
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
English law and decisions are often cited.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI)
Regional Organisations
For the protection of patents: the European Patent Office (EPO). To control trademarks, designs and models: the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patent Act
Long term patent: 20 years
Short term patent: 10 years
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Trade Mark Act
renewable every 10 years Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Design Patent
5 years, renewable for additional periods of 5 years  
Copyright & Related Rights Act, 2000
In most cases, copyright protection expires 70 years after the death of the author/creator Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Industrial Designs Bill, 2000
5 years, renewable for additional periods of 5 years, for a maximum of 15 years.  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
The Language of Justice
English and Gaelic.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Legal Similarities
- Brehon Law
- Constitution of 1937
- The European Communities Act, 1972 (provides that Treaties of the European Union are part of Irish law, along with directly effective measures adopted under those treaties)
- Acts of the Oireachtas
- Statutory instruments
All sources of Irish law are available on the Irish Statute Book's website.

The Different Legal Codes

Constitutional law The Irish Constitution was enacted by a popular plebiscite held on 1 July 1937. The Constitution is the cornerstone of the Irish legal system and is held to be the source of power exercised by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government.
Case law The Irish courts are bound by the doctrine of Stare decisis: judges are obliged to obey the set-up precedents established by prior decisions
The European Communities Act, 1972 Provides that Treaties of the European Union are part of Irish law, along with directly effective measures adopted under those treaties.
International law Ireland is a dualist state and treaties are not part of its domestic law unless incorporated by the Oireachtas. An example of incorporation is the Refugee Act (1996).
Checking National Laws Online
Constitution of Ireland
Other Useful Resources
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Country Guides
Lexmundi, Guide to doing business in Ireland: legal system.

The Jurisdictions

Supreme Court It's a court of final appeal. It ensures compliance with the Irish Constitution by governmental bodies and private citizens.
High Court Deals at first instance with the most serious and important civil and criminal cases, acts as a court of appeal for civil cases in the Circuit Court.
Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal, established on 28th October 2014, occupies an appellate jurisdictional tier between the High Court and the Supreme Court.
Special Criminal Court It's a juryless criminal court for terrorist and organized crime cases.
District Court The District Court consists of a President and 63 ordinary judges. The country is divided into 23 districts with one or more judges permanently assigned to each district and the Dublin Metropolitan District.
The District Court exercising its criminal jurisdiction deals with four particular types of offences: summary offences; indictable offences; indictable offences tried summarily and indictable offences not tried summarily.
The civil jurisdiction of the District Court in contract and most other matters is where the claim or award does not exceed EUR 15,000.

Court Officials
Courts Service

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International Dispute Resolution

Dublin International Arbitration Centre: Arbitration is a well-established method of dispute resolution in Ireland. A modern legal framework -the UNCITRAL Model Law - is in place. Judges and the legal profession have considerable familiarity with the choice of arbitration as an alternative to litigation.
Arbitration Law
Arbitration has long been supported in Irish law, through legislation and by the judiciary. The Irish legal profession holds a rich repository of international commercial legal and business expertise.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
Arbitration Procedure
- A certified copy of the whole of the document containing the arbitration clause;
- the names, addresses, solicitors and references of all the parties involved;
- an outline of the nature of the dispute;
- the names of any persons who are debarred from acting as arbitrator;
- an estimate of the amount involved in the case;
- where proceedings have already been commenced in the courts, evidence that they have been stayed to enable the reference to arbitration to proceed;
- evidence that all pre-conditions to the appointment as may be detailed in the arbitration agreement have been satisfied.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Dublin International Arbitration Centre (Sectors Covered: International Arbitration)

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Latest Update: July 2024