Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform, James Browne has welcomed the passage of the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Bill 2018 through all stages in the Oireachtas.
The bill sets out a clear, statutory definition of perjury and should enable the offence and related offences to be more easily prosecuted in the courts.
Commenting on the importance of the bill, the minister said: “It is never acceptable to lie on oath or, for that matter in any legal proceedings.
“This bill is a significant legislative milestone which will not only provide for considerable penalties against those who commit the offence of perjury and related offences, it will also have a substantial deterrent effect regarding the making of false claims or statements by those persons who may be minded to do so.”
The bill also provides clear penalties to be applied, depending on the nature of the offence that is being prosecuted. The penalties are in line with that of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 regarding false evidence and fraudulent claims.
The maximum penalty on summary conviction is a Class B fine or a term of imprisonment of 12 months, with a maximum penalty on indictment of a term of imprisonment up to ten years and/or a fine of €100,000.
The minister said: “This sends a clear message to would-be abusers of court time and process that making deliberately false statements in legal or other proceedings will not go unpunished and may result in very serious consequences for the individual concerned.
“I am confident that this bill will go a long way in deterring those who might consider providing dishonest evidence in order to mislead proceedings”.
The bill also consolidates other relevant legislation in this area, and simplifies the references to perjury and related offences in older legislation.
The minister added that insurance costs present a hugely significant issue for businesses, individuals, and community groups.
Cost of insurance
He said the deterrent effect of this legislation is likely to be considerable and a very welcome development, particularly in relation to the cost of insurance.
The minister also paid tribute to the work of former Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh in relation to the bill, who he said had “worked tirelessly” in steering the bill through the Seanad with cross party and Government support.