In January 2022, the Regulation of Providers of Building Works and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 (“the Bill”) was initiated in Ireland, was passed by Dáil Éireann in March 2022, and signed into law on 05 July 2022 – graduating to the Regulation of Providers of Building Works and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2022 (“the Act”). The Act provides for the establishment of the Construction Industry Register Ireland (or Clár Tionscail Foirgníochta na hÉireann) (“CIRI”). What this means for the industry is that there will be a new standard of quality control for construction-providers in Ireland, and some very real regulation of the same. Registration on CIRI will be mandatory, and a failed registration application will mean that you cannot continue to provide your services – so understanding the new law and what actions you need to take is crucial for your business.
This article will provide some insight into what changes the Act will bring about in the not-so-distant future, and what this means for construction-providers going forward.
The concept of a register is not a new one in Ireland, in 2014 the Construction Industry Federation (“CIF”) established the Voluntary Construction Register (“VCR”) as an online register for competent builders, contractors, sub-contractors, specialist sub-contractors and tradespersons, the purpose being to assist construction-service users when selecting competent and compliant service-providers. The VCR has been supported by the Irish Government, alongside several other measures introduced by the Department for Housing, Planning, Local Government and Heritage to elevate quality control in the industry. Whilst the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 require competent contractors and builders to be appointed, the VCR lacked any meaningful statutory basis and thus participation has been voluntary – until now. The CIF’s VCR has newfound statutory footing as registration has become mandatory thanks to the new Act. Accordingly, the VCR will be renamed as the Construction Industry Register Ireland, and the CIF has been appointed as the Construction Industry Registration Body (“the Registration Body”) under Section 8 of the Act.
The Registration Body may make rules in order to discharge its functions, and it may, and if so requested by the Government, prepare a code of practice for providers of building works, with provisions relating to any of the following:
Any such code of practice will be subject to ministerial approval, but we expect that the CIF will make appropriate rules and codify these in a code of practice. Construction-providers will need to be alive to any such rules and practices around competent contracting, and it is never too early to begin reviewing internal practices in relation to the same. No-one wants to be playing catch-up when the code of practice is introduced.
An admissions and registration board will be appointed (“the Board”), members of which are to be appointed by various Ministers from their respective departments, including the Department for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Other members will include appointments from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and recommendations from the Chief Executive of the Public Appointments Service. The Act also provides for the establishment of separate committees to facilitate the various functions of the Board.
We have already seen some very active Policy Committees under the CIF, including the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Committee, and the Procurement, Tendering and Contractual Tendering Committee. It will be interesting to see how existing committees will facilitate the functions of the Board, as well as what new committees are introduced.
The CIRI will include, in relation to each registered person:
CIRI will be available for inspection by the public, free of charge and can be viewed here.
The CIRI will be divided into different divisions for each of the different categories of works prescribed, the particulars of those divisions are yet to be confirmed, but the Minister will prescribe them following a recommendation from the Board, and both must take into consideration a list of factors (a complete list is found at section 27(4) of the Act) including the desirability of having a competent construction industry and any deficiencies, inaccuracies, or inadequacies of the existing divisions of the VCR.
You will be able to register under more than one division of CIRI, so no need to stress about pigeon-holing you or your business into one competency.
The Board shall determine the criteria of specific knowledge and expertise required of a provider for it to be eligible for registration under a division of CIRI. This will be known as the competence criteria. The competence criteria will consider the existing requirements under building regulations, the Planning and Development Act 2000, any relevant environment legislation and construction product regulations, the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Building Works, and technical documents and specifications relevant to the industry. The competence criteria should become available on the CIF website in due course when it is finalised, and we would suggest that construction-providers begin looking inwards for any short-comings under the existing statutory and regulatory requirements as these will form the foundations of the competency criteria.
A person/company cannot engage as a provider of building works, hold themselves out to be a provider of building works, or advertise their services unless they are registered on CIRI. Failure to comply with this part of the Act will mean that you are guilty of an offence.
A person guilty of an offence under the Act shall be liable to Class A fine, in other words a fine up to €5,000, and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. It’s fair to say that compliance with the registration requirements should be taken seriously.
The Board must determine what qualifications and/or practical experience will be required of providers in each division to meet the competence criteria, the assessment criteria if you will. Once assessment criteria for a division comes into operation, then providers will have a period of at least 12 months to register under that division. The exact transitional period is unknown, it may be more than 12 months.
After submitting your application to be registered under CIRI, the Board will have 90 days to determine the application. It is unclear if it will take the entire three months to hear back, but this lead time is certainly something to consider when planning ahead.
This article has given a very high-level insight into how the Act will affect construction-providers, there are plenty more details around the new rules around competency, competent persons and registration that should not be overlooked by providers. We would suggest that you seek advice as to the exact criteria under the Act and identify of any gaps in you need to fill.
Those gaps may well include professional training – particularly as the Board must establish and maintain a system of continuing professional development under the Act, particularly for training courses, seminars, or workshops as the case may be. A provider who fails to comply with the requirements of this professional development system will not be eligible for registration or be eligible to continue being registered in any division of the CIRI.
Getting ready for registration and providing your staff with appropriate training is certainly something that Quigg Golden can help you with. Not only can we advise on the relevant law for construction providers and provide ongoing advice, but we also offer a very wide range of professional development training courses which are CPD certified, some previously with the CIF in fact, as well as offering bespoke training services. If this is something that is of interest, please do not hesitate to get in touch here.
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