Perhaps it’s only fitting, with the IMF and the EU pulling the State’s financial strings, that Irish legislation is taking on a European flavour.
Irish primary legislation usually consists of a short title, a long title, operative sections and schedules. The short title is the name by which legislation is known to and the long title describes it further. For example, the long title to the Finance Act 2010 is:
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE IMPOSITION, REPEAL, REMISSION, ALTERATION AND REGULATION OF TAXATION, OF STAMP DUTIES AND OF DUTIES RELATING TO EXCISE AND OTHERWISE TO MAKE FURTHER PROVISION IN CONNECTION WITH FINANCE INCLUDING THE REGULATION OF CUSTOMS.
It has 165 operative provisions and four schedules, the latter containing tables of rates and other technical amendments. Background information is contained in the explanatory memorandum which accompanies legislation at draft stage (the 35-page explanatory memo for the Finance Bill 2010 is here).
In Irish legislation, preambles [which include descriptive recitals] are mainly found in Acts to amend the Constitution [eg. the 2009 ratification of the Lisbon Treaty], and Private Acts [eg. the Limerick Markets Act 1992].
Take 2006 as representative: 42 acts passed in a pre-crash year, with no constitutional amendments or private acts. None of those 42 acts contains recitals.
I recently observed that legislative mission statements were present in new Irish financial laws. These include operative sections outlining the purpose of the legislation (rather than the actual effect) and recitals, which I said were “common in continental European civil law systems and familiar to Irish lawyers thanks to the regulations and directives of the European Union.” Take, for example, Directive 2010/65 which puts up 28 recitals for the reader to wade through before getting to the good stuff: reporting formalities for ships in EU ports (though article 1(1) again sets out the purpose of the directive).
Yesterday, the Minister for Finance published the Credit Institutions (Stablisation) Bill 2010. This is a substantial piece of legislation containing sweeping powers for the Minister, but on a superficial level, it was striking that the Bill again contains a purpose provision (section 4) and a lengthy set of recitals which shout the background (reproduced below).
One might be inclined to speculate as to the source of this Europeanisation of Irish legislation.
Recitals to the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010
WHEREAS THERE IS A SERIOUS DISTURBANCE IN THE ECONOMY OF THE STATE;
AND WHEREAS MEASURES ARE NECESSARY TO ADDRESS A UNIQUE AND UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMIC CRISIS WHICH HAS LED TO DIFFICULT ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES AND SEVERE DISRUPTION TO THE ECONOMY;
AND WHEREAS THERE IS A CONTINUING SERIOUS THREAT TO THE STABILITY OF CERTAIN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS IN THE STATE, AND TO THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM GENERALLY;
AND WHEREAS IT IS NECESSARY, IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, TO MAINTAIN THE STABILITY OF THOSE CREDIT INSTITUTIONS AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN THE STATE;
AND WHEREAS IT IS NECESSARY, IN THE INTERESTS OF THE COMMON GOOD, TO CONTINUE THE PROCESS OF REORGANISATION, PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION OF THE FINANCIAL POSITION OF ANGLO IRISH BANK CORPORATION LIMITED BEGUN WITH THE ANGLO IRISH BANK CORPORATION ACT 2009;
AND WHEREAS THE FUNCTIONS AND POWERS CONFERRED BY THIS ACT ARE NECESSARY TO SECURE FINANCIAL STABILITY AND TO EFFECT A REORGANISATION OF CERTAIN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS;
AND WHEREAS IT IS NECESSARY TO AMEND THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (REORGANISATION AND WINDING-UP OF CREDIT INSTITUTIONS) REGULATIONS 2004 (S.I. NO. 198 OF 2004) TO IMPLEMENT DIRECTIVE 2001/24/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL OF 4 APRIL 2001 TO PRESERVE OR RESTORE THE FINANCIAL POSITION OF CERTAIN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS;
AND WHEREAS THE CONSIDERABLE FINANCIAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY THE STATE TO CERTAIN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS HAS HELPED THOSE INSTITUTIONS TO MEET THEIR FINANCIAL AND REGULATORY OBLIGATIONS;
AND WHEREAS THE STATE WISHES TO PROVIDE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE FUNCTIONS CONFERRED BY THIS ACT IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THE FINANCIAL STABILISATION OF THOSE CREDIT INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR RESTRUCTURING (CONSISTENTLY WITH THE STATE AID RULES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION) IN THE CONTEXT OF THE NATIONAL RECOVERY PLAN 2011–2014 AND THE EUROPEAN UNION/INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND PROGRAMME OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR IRELAND;
AND WHEREAS THE COMMON GOOD REQUIRES PERMANENT OR TEMPORARY INTERFERENCE WITH THE RIGHTS, INCLUDING PROPERTY RIGHTS, OF PERSONS WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THE PERFORMANCE OF THOSE FUNCTIONS;
AND WHEREAS THE URGENT REORGANISATION OF CERTAIN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS IS OF SYSTEMIC IMPORTANCE TO THE STATE;
AND WHEREAS IT IS NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN, AND ENHANCE, THE PROTECTION OF DEPOSITS IN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS GENERALLY;
AND WHEREAS IT IS DESIRABLE TO PROMOTE AND FACILITATE INVESTMENT BY PERSONS OTHER THAN THE STATE IN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS TO REDUCE THEIR
RELIANCE UPON STATE SUPPORT;
AND WHEREAS BECAUSE CERTAIN CREDIT INSTITUTIONS IN THE STATE ARE PARTIES TO CONTRACTS AND OTHER ARRANGEMENTS GOVERNED BY THE LAW OF A STATE OTHER THAN THE STATE;
BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS: