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ISME welcomes passage of Perjury Bill

Offenders will face up to 10 years in jail and a €100,000 fine after new law passed

ISME is delighted to welcome the passage of the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Bill 2018 through all stages in the Oireachtas. ISME has campaigned for the introduction of a statutory perjury offence since 2017. Ireland is the last common law country in the world to pass such legislation.

ISME believes that this legislation is long overdue and is needed to tackle white-collar crime and fraudulent litigation.  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.

While perjury is a common law offence in Ireland, it has been very difficult to prosecute until now and therefore rarely is. The result is that parties to civil litigation, family law and tribunal witnesses can lie with impunity, as they are never prosecuted. The deterrence of white-collar crime has always been seen as the most important outcome of a functioning perjury statute.

However, the enactment of the perjury statute will serve no purpose in the absence of a willingness and determination by the authorities to use it. It is essential that the authorities use the new offence to punish those who seek to deprive others of truth, money, property, liberty or family.

ISME extends sincere thanks to former senator Padraig O’Céidigh and the co-sponsors of his Private Member’s Bill, without whom this Bill would never have passed into law.

Neil McDonnell, Chief Executive of ISME, said: “We are delighted to see this legislation finally passing in the Oireachtas. ISME has campaigned on the issue since 2017. We acknowledge this offence will not be a silver bullet in the fight against exaggerated and false claims, but it will signal intent to tackle the issue. For this perjury statute to be effective, there will need to be a cultural change among the Judiciary, the Gardaí and the DPP. This new legislation will be an essential weapon in the armoury against those who would make exaggerated or false claims for personal gain.”