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New statutory redemption period for Irish gift vouchers

Published on 21 January 2020

Irish Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019

The question

What is the new minimum expiry date for all gift vouchers in Ireland?

The key takeaway

Under the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019 (the Act), there is now a minimum five year expiry date for all gift vouchers in Ireland. All gift vouchers sold after 2 December 2019 will be caught by the new law (including all current gift vouchers unsold at that date) and therefore subject to the new five year minimum redemption period. 

The background

The Act amends the Consumer Protection Act 2007. Before its introduction there was no specific legislation dealing with gift vouchers in Ireland. Retailers were free to determine the expiry dates, some lasting as little as three months on popular gift choices. 

The development

According to the Act:
  • all gift vouchers must have a minimum five year expiry date and the expiry date must be clearly communicated to the consumer;
  • traders are prohibited from requiring that a voucher is spent all in one single transaction (providing there is more than €1 left on the voucher);
  • if the voucher contains an expiry date, this date must be specified on the voucher;
  • the remaining balance of a gift voucher shall be reimbursed either in cash or another gift voucher;
  • if, say, an existing two year voucher is partially redeemed, and the remaining amount is issued on a new gift voucher, then that gift voucher will be subject to the five year expiry period. If the partially redeemed vouchers are not issued as new vouchers, they will not be subject to the five year expiry period;
  • a gift voucher contract is not allowed to limit the number of gift vouchers that a person is allowed to redeem in one transaction;
  • where a gift voucher contract contains a provision for how a gift voucher can be replaced if it is lost or stolen, then the replacement gift voucher must not expire before the date of the original gift voucher.
Why is this important?

As the Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation said “part of the problem is the great variation on expiry dates which can range from as little as six months to 12 months to 24 months. This often leads to confusion amongst consumers”. The Act changes all this by introducing consistency of redemption periods in Ireland.

Any practical tips?

There is no “reasonable period” afforded to businesses to phase out gift vouchers with durations of less than five years that have not yet been sold. All unsold gift vouchers (ie in print, in stock or instore) as at or after 29 November 2019 will be subject to the new five year minimum redemption period. If you are issuing gift cards in Ireland, you will need to get busy – both in introducing the new redemption period (and all accompanying drafting) and training your staff to be able to deal with customer queries over their redemption rights.