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‘Many firms not ready for major legislation’
Will Carmody

25 Jan 2024 / business Print

‘Many firms not ready for major legislation’

New rules on sustainability reporting and individual accountability are the two measures expected to have the most significant impact on Irish businesses in 2024, according to survey by law firm Mason Hayes & Curran (MHC).

The findings are contained in the firm’s inaugural survey on business and legal sentiment, which had more than 700 responses.

Respondents identified the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Central Bank (Individual Accountability Framework) Amendment Act 2022 as the most significant pieces of legislation for them.

Less than half of respondents, however, felt that they are well-prepared for these pieces of legislation – 42% for the CSRD, and 38% for the Central Bank measures.

Economic outlook

Asked about the main impact of the EU’s AI Act on their business, 42% expected increased productivity, but almost one-third said that they feared greater risk exposure.

Overall, the survey found a high level of concern about the economic and legal outlook for 2024, as 23% of respondents believed that the Irish economy would decline, and 45% thought that there would be no growth by the end of 2024.

The main concerns for business leaders this year are staff recruitment and retention (27%), keeping pace with new regulations (26%), and business costs (24%).

In terms of regulatory compliance, the greatest hurdles identified are the volume of regulatory change (33%), the complexity of the requirements (23%), and resource constraints (23%).

‘Growing complexity’

Will Carmody (managing partner, MHC) said that it could be difficult for businesses to navigate the growing complexity and volume of new regulations.

“Businesses are increasingly required to adapt their operations, reporting, and strategic planning to meet evolving regulatory standards. It is more important than ever for organisations to ensure they are informed and well-advised in this dynamic legal landscape,” he stated.

In other findings, almost 90% of businesses said that ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors were influencing their business-planning and decision-making to a significant (39%) or moderate (50%) extent.

More than 80% of business leaders indicated, however, that they were steering clear of merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activity in the upcoming year, while 60% believed that the OECD’s 15% minimum tax rate would have a negative impact on the Irish economy.

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