Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011

66.

Powers of entry and inspection, etc., of inspectors for purposes of investigation.

66.— (1) For the purposes of an investigation in relation to a licensee, an inspector may—

( a) subject to subsections (13) and (14), at all reasonable times enter, inspect, examine and search any premises at, or vehicles in or by means of, which any activity in connection with the provision of a property service by the licensee, or in connection with the organisation or assistance of persons engaged in such provision, is carried on,

( b) subject to subsections (13) and (14), enter, inspect, examine and search any dwelling occupied by the licensee or a director, manager or any member of staff of an undertaking that carries on an activity referred to in paragraph (a), being a dwelling as respects which there are reasonable grounds to believe records relating to the carrying on of that activity are being kept in it,

( c) without prejudice to any other power conferred by this subsection, require any person found in or on any premises, vehicle or dwelling referred to in any of the preceding paragraphs or any person in charge of or in control of such premises, vehicle or dwelling or directing any activity therein or thereto referred to in paragraph (a) to produce any records, books or accounts (whether kept in manual form or otherwise) or other documents which it is necessary for the inspector to see for the purposes of the investigation (and the inspector may inspect, examine and copy any such records, books or accounts or other documents so produced or require a foregoing person to provide a copy of them or of any entries in them to the inspector),

( d) require any person referred to in paragraph (c) to afford such facilities and assistance within the person’s control or responsibilities as are reasonably necessary to enable the inspector to exercise any of the powers conferred on the inspector under paragraph (a), (b) or (c),

( e) require any person by or on whose behalf data equipment is or has been used in connection with an activity referred to in paragraph (a), or any person having charge of, or otherwise concerned with the operation of, such data equipment or any associated apparatus or material, to afford the inspector all reasonable assistance in respect of its use,

( f) require the licensee, the licensee’s principal officer, the licensee’s employee or the licensee’s agent to give such authority in writing addressed to such bank or banks as the inspector requires for the purpose of enabling the inspection of any account or accounts opened, or caused to be opened, by the licensee at such bank or banks (or any documents relating thereto) and to obtain from such bank or banks copies of such documents relating to such account or accounts for such period or periods as the inspector deems necessary to fulfil that purpose, and

( g) be accompanied by a member of the Garda Síochána if there is reasonable cause to apprehend any serious obstruction in the performance of any of the inspector’s functions under this subsection.

(2) A requirement under subsection (1)(c), (d), (e) or (f) shall specify a period within which, or a date and time on which, the person the subject of the requirement is to comply with it.

(3) For the purposes of an investigation, an inspector—

( a) may require a person who, in the inspector’s opinion—

(i) possesses information that is relevant to the investigation, or

(ii) has any records, books or accounts (whether kept in manual form or otherwise) or other documents within that person’s possession or control or within that person’s procurement that are relevant to the investigation,

to provide that information or those records, books, accounts or other documents, as the case may be, to the inspector, and

( b) where the inspector thinks fit, may require that person to attend before the inspector for the purpose of so providing that information or those records, books, accounts or other documents, as the case may be,

and the person shall comply with the requirement.

(4) A requirement under subsection (3) shall specify—

( a) a period within which, or a date and time on which, the person the subject of the requirement is to comply with the requirement, and

( b) as the inspector concerned thinks fit—

(i) the place at which the person shall attend to give the information concerned or to which the person shall deliver the records, books, accounts or other documents concerned, or

(ii) the place to which the person shall send the information or the records, books, accounts or other documents concerned.

(5) A person required to attend before an inspector under subsection (3)

( a) is also required to answer fully and truthfully any question put to the person by the inspector, and

( b) if so required by the inspector, shall answer any such question under oath.

(6) Where it appears to an inspector that a person has failed to comply or fully comply with a requirement under subsection (1), (3) or (5), the inspector may, on notice to that person and with the consent of the Authority, apply in a summary manner to the Circuit Court for an order under subsection (7).

(7) Where satisfied after hearing the application about the person’s failure to comply or fully comply with the requirement in question, the Circuit Court may, subject to subsection (10), make an order requiring that person to comply or fully comply, as the case may be, with the requirement within a period specified by the Court.

(8) An application under subsection (6) to the Circuit Court shall be made to a judge of that Court for the circuit in which the person the subject of the application resides or ordinarily carries on any profession, business or occupation.

(9) The administration of an oath referred to in subsection (5) (b) by an inspector is hereby authorised.

(10) A person the subject of a requirement under subsection (1), (3) or (5) shall be entitled to the same immunities and privileges in respect of compliance with such requirement as if the person were a witness before the High Court.

(11) Any statement or admission made by a person pursuant to a requirement under subsection (1), (3) or (5) is not admissible against that person in criminal proceedings other than criminal proceedings for an offence under subsection (17), and this shall be explained to the person in ordinary language by the inspector concerned.

(12) Nothing in this section shall be taken to compel the production by any person of any records, books or accounts (whether kept in manual form or otherwise) or other documents which he or she would be exempt from producing in proceedings in a court on the ground of legal professional privilege.

(13) An inspector shall not, other than with the consent of the occupier, enter a private dwelling without a warrant issued under subsection (14) authorising the entry.

(14) A judge of the District Court, if satisfied on the sworn information of an inspector that—

( a) (i) there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that any information is, or records, books or accounts (whether kept in manual form or otherwise) or other documents required by an inspector under this section are, held on any premises or any part of any premises, and

(ii) an inspector, in the performance of functions under subsection (1), has been prevented from entering the premises or any part thereof,

or

( b) it is necessary that the inspector enter a private dwelling and exercise therein any of his or her powers under this section,

may issue a warrant authorising the inspector, accompanied if necessary by other persons, at any time or times within 30 days from the date of issue of the warrant and on production if so requested of the warrant, to enter, if need be by reasonable force, the premises or part of the premises concerned and perform all or any such functions.

(15) For the purposes of an investigation, an inspector may, if he or she thinks it proper to do so, of his or her own volition or at the request of the licensee to whom the investigation relates, conduct an oral hearing.

(16) Part 1 of Schedule 3 shall have effect for the purposes of an oral hearing referred to in subsection (15).

(17) Subject to subsection (12), a person who—

( a) withholds, destroys, conceals or refuses to provide any information or records, books or accounts (whether kept in manual form or otherwise) or other documents required for the purposes of an investigation,

( b) fails or refuses to comply with any requirement of an inspector under this section, or

( c) otherwise obstructs or hinders an inspector in the performance of functions imposed under this Act,

is guilty of an offence and liable—

(i) on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or

(ii) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.

(18) Subject to subsection (19), where a licensee is convicted summarily of an offence under subsection (17), the court may, after having regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances in which it was committed, order that the licence held by the licensee be revoked and that the former licensee be prohibited (which may be a permanent prohibition, a prohibition for a specified period or a prohibition subject to specified conditions) from applying for any new licence or a particular class of new licence.

(19) An order under subsection (18) shall not take effect until—

( a) the ordinary time for bringing an appeal against the conviction concerned or the order has expired without any such appeal having been brought,

( b) such appeal has been withdrawn or abandoned, or

( c) on any such appeal, the conviction or order, as the case may be, is upheld.

(20) Subject to subsection (21), where a licensee is convicted on indictment of an offence under subsection (17), the court shall order that all the licences held by the licensee be revoked and that the former licensee be permanently prohibited from applying for any new licence.

(21) An order under subsection (20) shall not take effect until—

( a) the ordinary time for bringing an appeal against the conviction concerned has expired without any such appeal having been brought,

( b) any such appeal has been withdrawn or abandoned, or

( c) on any such appeal, the conviction is upheld.

(22) In this section, “records, books or accounts” include copies of records, books or accounts.