The Screening of Third Country Transactions Act 2023 (the ‘Act’) was signed into law on 31 October 2023 and is expected to come into effect in the second quarter of 2024. The Act will ensure Ireland meets its obligations under Regulation (EU) 2019/452 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019. The Act enables the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (the ‘Minister’) to review and potentially halt transactions which may present a risk to Ireland’s security and public order, particularly transactions related to critical infrastructure and technologies.
The Act establishes a mandatory notification regime for transactions meeting certain specified criteria. A transaction must be notified to the Minister where:
A relevant transaction must be notified to the Minister at least 10 days before the date on which the transaction is to be completed, with such notification obligation applying to all parties to the transaction.
If the parties fail to notify the Minister of a notifiable transaction, such a transaction shall be deemed subject to a screening decision of the Minister that it is one which affects or would likely affect the security or public order of Ireland. Such a decision shall be deemed to be made the day before the transaction’s completion. Failure to notify is a criminal offence and may result in fines of up to €4 million and/or 5 years’ imprisonment.
From notification, the Minister has 90 days, which can be extended to 135 days, to issue a decision. The review period is paused if the Minister seeks further information. The Minister may decide to:
Parties have 30 days to notify the Minister of an appeal, with any such appeal heard by a designated adjudicator. The parties may appeal the decision of an adjudicator to the High Court on a point of law.
Call-in rights of the Minister on non-notified Transactions
The Minister has a right, when they have reasonable grounds for believing the transaction affects or might affect public order or security in Ireland, to ‘call-in’ transactions for review.