ISME welcomes the commencement of the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Act 2021 by Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys TD on 28th July, making perjury a statutory criminal offence for the first time in Ireland.
As a result, ISME has written to the Chief Justice of Ireland, the Presidents of the Lower Courts, the Chief Executive of Insurance Ireland, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Garda Commissioner and the head of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to express our determination that perjury is treated as a serious offence.
People swearing untruthful affidavits of verification in pursuit of exaggerated or false personal injuries claims must be prosecuted by the authorities with the same gravity that would apply to a monetary or property theft of equivalent value. Exaggerated and false personal injuries claims place a burden of hundreds of millions of euros annually on motorists, homeowners, charities, sporting bodies and business owners through excessive insurance costs.
The new perjury act also criminalises the offence of “subornation of perjury”. Subornation of perjury is where someone induces, persuades, or permits another person to commit perjury; knowing, or being reckless, as to whether that person is committing perjury. Unfortunately, a great many professionals such as lawyers, doctors and engineers have assisted in the provision of reports for personal injury litigants which have proven manifestly misleading or false. This activity has now been explicitly outlawed in the perjury statute, and ISME expects to see those who are suborning perjury to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Neil McDonnell, CEO of ISME said: “We are delighted to see the commencement of the legislation against perjury. Having lobbied for four years to get this law on the statute books, ISME wants to see the offence taken seriously by the authorities and the courts. Truthful litigants have nothing to fear from the perjury statute, but Ireland can no longer tolerate a situation where our legal system is complicit in the commission of perjury for profit.
ISME would like to remind insured businesses they have a part to play in notifying their insurer and the Gardaí as soon as possible where they believe a false statement has been sworn in support of a personal injuries claim. They must also be able to provide evidence on the matter, whether that is documentary, CCTV or witness evidence.”
Prior to taking a decision on prosecution, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) considers the admissibility and reliability of evidence, and whether it is sufficient to show the commission of a criminal offence. Insurance companies will be able to assist insured businesses in this regard. The DPP also considers whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. Given the corrosive effects the cost and availability of insurance is having on Irish society, the public interest in prosecution is self-evident for this crime.