Amendments to broaden the scope of the Perjury and Related Offences Bill have been detailed by justice minister Charlie Flanagan.
The bill, whose primary sponsor is Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh (pictured) seeks to put perjury on a statutory footing.
Perjury is currently a common law offence and it is rarely prosecuted. It is intended that by introducing a statutory offence this will make the offence easier to prosecute.
Minister Flanagan said: “We will now have a clearly defined statute dealing with an offence of perjury. It will deal with people who want to engage in fraudulent activity in the courts and will also act as a deterrent to those who wish to chance their arm.”
It is believed that the new provisions will be of particular assistance in cases of insurance fraud.
The Minister added: “This is a part of a package of measures dealing with insurance issues, insurance fraud and exaggerated claims.
'Tell the truth'
“It’s a clear message to anyone engaged in court proceedings, giving evidence in court that they need to be mindful of the need to tell the truth and in the event of a fraudulent claim, an exaggerated claim or evidence then there are strong penalties involved here.”
The minister will bring forward further amendments to broaden the scope of the bill to include commissions of investigation and tribunals of inquiry.
The bill will be amended so that the maximum penalty on indictment will harmonise with the equivalent penalties for largely similar offences in the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004.
This stipulates that anyone committing an offence is liable:
- on summary conviction, to a class b fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both,
- on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both.
Report stage of the bill will take place in the Seanad next week (beginning 24 June). The bill will then move to the Dáil.
The minister paid tribute to Senator Ó Céidigh (pictured) for his work on this issue.