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The recent Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003 establishes a new body, the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, and amends the regulatory powers of the Irish Central Bank with effect from May 1 2003. The Act also amends a number of legislative provisions in the area of financial services and insurance law and in particular the Central Bank Acts, 1942-1998.

Section 3 of the Act provides that from May 1 the new title for the Central Bank of Ireland is the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland.

The Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority will assume responsibility from the Central Bank in relation to the supervision of the financial services industry and will also be responsible for promoting the best interests of parties engaged in financial services. The Act provides for the appointment of a consumer director, who will be responsible for monitoring the provision of financial services to consumers and who will be empowered to exercise a number of consumer protection measures pursuant to the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, the Investment Intermediary Act 1994, the Stock Exchange Act 1995 and other legislation relevant to the regulation of banking and insurance in Ireland.

It is expected that further changes will be made to the financial services regulatory environment in Ireland later this year, with the publication of the next Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Bill, which will provide for the establishment of a statutory Financial Services Ombudsman and Industry and Consumer Consultative Panels. It is also expected that the Bill will make miscellaneous amendments to various financial services provisions. Finally the publication of the Financial Services (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is also expected to be published later this year, which will also amend legislation in the area of financial services.

Turlough Galvin and Mark O'Sullivan

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