Overview of the Consumer Protection Act, 2007
12. Pyramid Promotion Schemes
The Pyramid Selling Act 1980 (which was enforced by the Gardai) has been repealed and replaced with stronger measures. The Act bans organising, promoting or participating in pyramid schemes. Any person or trader that promotes these schemes is in breach of the Act. 'Gifting' schemes are also prohibited under the new Act.
The NCA and the Gardai have powers to take action against individuals operating, participating or promoting pyramid selling schemes. A person convicted of a pyramid selling offence is liable to a fine not exceeding 150,000 euros or imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years or both.
The National Consumer Agency has a range of powers to help achieve compliance. These are:
- Compliance notices
- Prohibition orders
- Fixed payment notices
The Act includes a provision for defence of due diligence by a defendant (apart from pyramid selling offences) in cases where:
- The offence was due to a mistake or reliance on information supplied to the defendant, or to the act or default of another person, an accident or some other cause beyond the defendant's control, and
- The defendant exercised due diligence and took all reasonable precautions to avoid commission of the offence
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