Planning Permission Extensions

The Planning and Development Act 2010 which came into effect in July (and further sections of the Act came into operation in September and October) introduced key changes to the planning laws. Some of the main points to note are as follows:

Extensions of Planning Permission

The circumstances in which one can extend the lifetime of a planning permission have been amended. Under Section 42 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 it was possible to seek an extension where substantial works had been carried out and the development completed within a reasonable time. A planning permission may now be extended on one occasion only for up to a further five years. Application to extend must be applied for before the expiry of the original planning permission. An extension may be granted where a development has not gone ahead due to “commercial economic or technical” considerations beyond the control of the applicant, which “substantially militated against the commencement of the development or carrying out of substantial works”. This is in addition to the provisions of Section 42, which allowed extensions where substantial works had been carried out. This section of the Act has commenced as of 19 August 2010. The procedure for application to extend is set out in the Planning and Development Regulations 2010 (S.I. 406 of 2010). An Applicant must show legal interest in the land. This section is useful for landowners and also lending institutions and Receivers in keeping planning permission alive.

Refusal of Planning Permission

Under the 2010 Act planning permission can be refused if a person has carried out substantial unauthorised development or has been convicted of a planning offence under the 2000 Act. This section commenced as of 5 October 2010.


The enforcement provisions of the 2000 Act have been strengthened. Local Authorities are mandated to issue enforcement notices or take proceedings under section 160 of the 2000 Act in cases of unauthorised development unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. This section commenced as of 5 October 2010. The fines for non- compliance with enforcement notices have increased to a maximum fine €5,000.00, which was previously €1905.00 effective from 19 August 2010. Immunity from prosecution for unauthorised development will not apply to development of quarries or peat extraction. This means that unauthorised development of a quarry or peat extraction can be enforced at any time.

For further information on aspects of Planning, contact John Geary.

New Court Rules promote use of mediation and conciliation

New High Court Rules which promote the use of mediation and conciliation come into effect on 16th November 2010. The Court, on the application of any of the parties involved in litigation, or on its own motion, may adjourn proceedings in order to allow the parties to engage in "an ADR process". An "ADR process" is defined as including mediation, conciliation or another dispute resolution process approved by the court, but not arbitration**. If a party refuses to participate in an approved ADR process without good reason, the court may award costs against that party***. The implementation of these new rules is indicative of the growing support for the use of mediation and conciliation as viable alternatives to litigation. This rule change brings into mainstream practice a procedure which the Commercial Court has been applying successfully in its rules since 2004. But also note the explicit jurisdiction now given to the High Court to award costs if a party unreasonably refuses to participate in an approved ADR process.

For further information in relation to mediation, conciliation and other
ADR processes please contact John Geary.

Government announces independent review of Registered Employment
Agreements (REAs) and Employment Regulation Orders (EROs)

The Government has announced that it expects to finalise very shortly the terms of reference for an independent review of statutory wage fixing mechanisms and agreements. The precise terms of reference are still being finalised, with the involvement of the Labour Court in the process being the subject of some debate. Employer organisations are not entirely comfortable with the prospect of the Labour Court being involved in the review. The background to the review is the proposed amendment to the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009 whereby the Government is proposing to introduce an inability to pay mechanism for both Registered Employment Agreements and Employment Regulation Orders. The mechanics of how the inability to pay clause would operate became the subject of considerable debate. Initially it was thought that it would be along the lines of the National Minimum Wage model. The inability to pay mechanism in the National Minimum Wage Act requires the consent of the workers and a ruling from the Labour Court. Earlier this year the Minister indicated that he may deviate from this model and allow some employers to claim inability to pay without workers' consent. In light of the above issues the Government decided on an independent review of statutory wage setting mechanisms, Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements. The recent Budget reduced the national minimum wage by €1 to €7.65 per hour and will no doubt compound the difficulties faced by the various interested parties in reviewing REAs and EROs as historically they have been regarded as a more complex model as the agreements include provisions for Sunday premiums and other additional benefits.

For more information on Employment Law, contact John Geary.

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