Aidan Clifford is advisory services manager, ACCA Ireland


Towards the end of last year the Pensions Authority issued a compliance reminder that, from 1 January 2023 onwards, all pension schemes must meet the full requirements of the IORP II Directive.

However, the regulator has confirmed that if a formal commitment was made before 1 January 2023 to wind up a group defined contribution (DC) pension scheme and transfer the assets to a master trust or to Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, trustees will not be required to meet the new IORP II requirements, provided that the transfer will be completed, and the scheme wound up, by the end of 2023. The deadline extension does not appear to be available to defined benefit (DB) schemes.

Consumer rights

The Consumer Rights Bill will radically reform consumer rights arising from the sale of goods or services. Of particular interest to accountants in practice will be section 82, which includes a number of implied terms in contracts, and section 94, which restricts certain limit of liability clauses in engagement letters.

New legislation restricts certain limit of liability clauses in engagement letters

It is common practice in personal tax assignments to limit the accountant’s indemnity for negligence to a multiple of the fee – typically five times. However, section 94 bans any provision in a service contract ‘which would indemnify a trader from harm caused by a product or service’.

Protected disclosures

Most employers already have either a formal or informal ‘speak-up’ policy, but this year the requirements have been tightened up and the process will need to be reviewed.

The statutory instrument was passed in October and on 1 January the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 came into force in Ireland for all public and private organisations with 50 or more employees. The new legislation widens the scope of categories of worker who are protected to include volunteers, board members, shareholders and job applicants.

With a business in trading difficulties, directors should meet often to discuss and document survival plans

The burden of proof in this legislation is with the employer and not the employee. The act requires that businesses in scope establish, maintain and operate internal reporting channels and procedures for the making of protected disclosures.

Cost of living

A recession is being predicted by many economists, so this is a good time for businesses and practices to review their processes and assess whether they need to make changes in the light of current challenges.

  • Businesses need to send out revised terms and conditions of trade to all customers and include an ‘all-sums-due’ retention-of-title clause. Including a retention-of-title clause in an invoice is ineffective; it must be in a terms-of-trade letter sent prior to doing business.
  • Directors need to be advised that if their business is in trading difficulties they need to meet often to discuss and document survival plans. The directors need to be able to show that they acted honestly and responsibly, or they face restriction or disqualification.
  • Warehoused tax debt that is over 12 months old ranks with unsecured creditors in the event of liquidation. In a period just before possible liquidation, such debt should not therefore be paid off in favour of other debts that might be higher up the preference hierarchy, as this risks a claim of fraudulent preference.
  • Businesses are advised to keep PAYE and PRSI payments up to date. Unpaid director’s payroll deductions may be disallowed in the director’s personal tax return.
  • Businesses are also advised to try and keep all Revenue returns and payments up to date. If this has happened, then the tax authority is more likely to cooperate with a Small Company Administrative Rescue Process, should a business decide to enter into this option.
  • Businesses should note that it is not fraudulent preference to pay a fee to an accountant for advice on trying to save, or liquidate, a business.
Charities in Northern Ireland

The Department for Communities has released a report in response to the Independent Review of Charity Regulation, which was published in January 2022 and made 93 recommendations on changes to improve the delivery of services and the operation of the regulatory framework.

In its response, the department said that all but one of the recommendations have been accepted; partially accepted; accepted in principle; or will require further consideration.

The only recommendation to be rejected concerns the requirement that all charities in NI should be required to register, with the department intending to introduce a £20,000 threshold below which charities would not be required to do so.

The department plans to carry out implementation over five years, given the complexity of the framework, involving primary and secondary legislation.