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New rules could ensure gift vouchers are valid for five years under Irish law

There is currently no minimum expiry date on gift vouchers under law.

Image: Shutterstock

THE CABINET HAS approved new laws that would mean gift vouchers would have to be valid for at least five years after they were sold.

The Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill 2018, proposed by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, aims to address the lack of regulation in the gift voucher market.

If passed, it would ban the requirement for gift vouchers to be spent by a customer in one transaction, and would also prevent the cancellation of vouchers or the imposition of a charge if the voucher recipient’s name was not registered correctly.

There is currently no minimum expiry date on gift vouchers under law, with some retailers issuing expiry dates on their vouchers after a short period of time.

Humphreys said the lack of regulation in the gift voucher market was causing confusion amongst consumers, many of whom were losing out because of unknown expiry dates. 

“This has been a real bugbear for people for many years and, of course, it’s particularly relevant now in the run up to Christmas when many of us will buy gift vouchers for family and friends,” the Minister said.

“It’s wrong that consumers should have to spend a voucher in full in one transaction. Similarly, it isn’t fair that businesses can penalise consumers simply because of a wrong letter in a name.”

Humphreys claimed that the bill had cross-party support, and expected it would be enacted early next year, from which point consumers would have greater protection.

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