The awaited Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act has been signed into law on the 28 December 2020.

The Act amends the law relating to harassment.  It provides offences relating to the recording, distribution or publication of intimate images and further provides anonymity of victims of those offences.  It also provides an offence involving the distribution, publication or sending of threatening or grossly offensive communication.

In particular, the new legislation will provide for two new offences dealing with the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The first offence will deal with the taking, distribution, publication or threat to distribute intimate images without consent, and with intent to cause harm to the victim and will carry a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine and/or seven years’ imprisonment.

The second offence will deal with the taking, distribution or publication of intimate images without consent without a requirement that the person intended to cause harm to the victim and will carry an offence of a maximum penalty of a €5,000 fine and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.

The Act makes amendments to the Non Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, the Bail Act 1997 and the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

It is intended that the Act will commence in February 2021.