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Covid 19 and Irish Legal System

24th April, 2020

One month in to this lock-down, it is important to note that many legal services are now operating. Obviously, they do so in a different way.

Here’s the main ones, and how they presently operate :-

Revenue stamping

Revenue has recently confirmed that, while phone services have been suspended indefinitely, electronic submissions continue to be processed and dealt with. Revenue will advise when telephone services resume. However, in the meantime, they recommend that people consult the Stamp Duty pages on www.revenue.ie to resolve their queries.

I am informed that Revenue staff continue to open and scan post albeit on a weekly rather than daily basis. To ensure delivery of the query and to avoid potential delays in response times, Revenue recommends the use of ‘My Enquiries’ as the most secure and efficient means of contact.

Companies Registration Office

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) has confirmed that it remains open for business despite its public office in Bloom House being closed. It is possible to file online as usual, although there may be some backlogs in processing.

Information on available services, and relevant contact details, is available on the CRO website.

Property Registration Authority of Ireland

The PRA recently advised as follows:

  • The Authority anticipates that all applications in relation to registered title lodged up to and including 20 April 2020 will have been recorded on their system and show up on searches by close of business on Tuesday 21 April 2020.
  • All such applications received after close of business on 27 March up to 20 April 2020 will have priority from 20 April 2020.
  • The Authority has indicated, however, that it will take longer to address the backlog in the Registry of Deeds, for operational reasons. The backlog on 21 April 2020 was at 12 days and the PRA is working to bring this down.
  • Copy instruments will be provided for urgent closings. The PRA has indicated that they will not simply be provided on request. Applications for copy instruments will only be processed where it is shown that the application falls within the definition of ‘legal services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people’ as provided in the ‘List of Essential Service Providers Under New Public Health Guidelines’, published on 28 March by the Department of the Taoiseach. When dealing with requests to process essential copy instrument applications, the PRA states that each application will be assessed on its merits, taking into consideration the purpose to be served by the transaction and the urgency of the situation.
  • Official copy folios and file plans are not available. The Irish Law Society is in discussion with the PRA on whether a print-out of a folio can be relied on and there will be a further update in due course.