Mandatory CIRI registration for contractors to be put on statutory footing

Key Contracts: Hugh Cummins – Partner  |  Michael Cahill – Senior Associate

On 12 January 2022, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (the “Department”) announced the publication of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2022 (the “Bill”). It follows an announcement by the Construction Industry Federation (“CIF”) over 4 years ago of government approval for the drafting of legislation requiring builders, contractors and specialist subcontractors wishing to carry out certain construction works to register with the Construction Industry Register Ireland (“CIRI”).

What is the purpose of the register?

CIRI was established by the CIF in March 2014 with the objective of being recognised as “the primary online resource used by consumers in the public and private procurement of construction services” through a register of members that “commit to delivering excellence in every aspect of their work . . . are competent and capable to deliver the job at hand . . . run their business in a professional manner and they sign up to continuous professional development to stay at the forefront of construction best practices”.

Until now, entry on the register has been on a voluntary basis. However, the Bill once signed into law will see CIRI placed on a statutory footing and is “expected to help develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with building regulations” according to the Department’s announcement circular. This means that any builders, contractors and specialist subcontractors wishing to carry out certain construction works will be required by law to register with CIRI. It is expected that the CIF will continue to operate CIRI once it is placed on a statutory footing.

Who must register?

Currently, there are approximately 800 building entities registered with CIRI however this is expected to increase to at least 5,000. It is proposed that the requirement to register will apply to builders of both residential and non-residential buildings that are covered by the existing building regulations and notably the new legislation will apply to sole traders but not employees of building firms. The Bill also envisages that CIRI will be tasked with receiving, investigating and imposing sanctions in respect of complaints made against registered builders.

The Department’s circular notes that the “construction industry will require time to adapt to these new requirements” and so statutory registration is expected to start in early 2024.

A welcome increase in industry regulation?

The placing of CIRI on a statutory footing constitutes another step in the increasingly regulated Irish construction industry but it is a positive one nonetheless. Like the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (“BCAR”), the Bill and the legislation that will ultimately follow will have its critics, but its aim is increased consumer protection in the construction industry which must be welcomed.

 

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