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LEGAL BRIEFS

NEW EU RULE WILL BAN CHARGES FOR USING CREDIT CARD

Diners Club and American Express cards. If a merchant imposes surcharges on those cards, the surcharge must not exceed the direct costs borne by the merchant to accept the card. The department added that this country opted to reduce some of the charges that processors of card payments can impose, in a move that made it cheaper for retailers to accept electronic payments. Known as interchange rates, Ireland now has some of the lowest rates of interchange fees on debit cards in the EU, the spokeswoman said. Dermott Jewell, of the Consumers’ Association, said the move to ban surcharges was long overdue. He said the Government had promised in the past to get rid of the charges, but deadlines for their abolition had been constantly missed. He said charging customers for using credit cards is discriminatory and anticonsumer. Mr Jewell said when consumers pay by card the companies save on cash handling, security provision, human resources and insurance costs. Consumer groups said the change in the law is likely to mean some companies will simply put up their prices, to make up for the loss of charges they impose on card payments.

Consumers will no longer have to pay surcharges for using credit cards from the start of next year. New European Union rules will ban the charge that can add 2% to the cost of goods or services. The worst offenders currently are airlines and ticket sellers, and small businesses which typically add a fee for cards. But the revised EU Payment Services Directive will ban surcharging on all payment cards covered by the EU Interchange Fee Regulation. It comes into force on January 13th, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance. This means a merchant will no longer be able to charge extra for accepting a consumer card covered by that regulation. This will ban surcharges on Visa and Mastercard credit card payments. The spokeswoman said this would lead to the end of surcharging on the vast majority of consumer cards. However, some cards not covered by EU rules will still be able to impose surcharges. These are understood to include

LAW ON MINIMUM ALCOHOL PRICING MAY PASS IN NEXT SESSION

As well as minimum unit pricing, the Bill includes provisions to regulate advertising and sponsorship of alcohol, to provide health labelling on products and to ensure structural separation of alcohol in shops. The Minister said he had taken on board concerns raised in the Seanad that the requirements would place an undue financial burden on small business owners and he would reflect that in amendments to the legislation in October.

Legislation to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol could pass all stages of both Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming session, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said. Speaking in Dublin at the launch of Recovery Month, an initiative being championed by the Rutland Centre for addiction treatment, Mr Harris called on all political parties and Independents to “step up to the plate” and support the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

MINISTER KEEN TO REVIEW CONTEMPT LAWS IN RELATION TO SOCIAL MEDIA

Speaking at the launch of the annual Courts Service Report, Ms Justice Denham said there are genuine concerns over the dissemination of false claims. She said there are several areas that need to be addressed to protect the right to a fair trial in this era of social media. Draft guidelines, she said, are needed to decide who can and cannot use social media in a courtroom. Mr Flanagan said there are many challenges in the area of law reform and it is essential that the law is fully up to date.

The Minister For Justice has said he is keen to have a review of Irish contempt laws in relation to social media. Charlie Flanagan’s comments come after the Chief Justice said the use of social media in the courtroom must be addressed. Ms Justice Susan Denham has written to the President of each court this week with a draft discussion paper on guidelines.

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Manning Financial Autumn 2017