The MIBI strongly supports new measures which will see perjury placed on a statutory footing for the first time and will support the prosecution of those who lie under oath or in sworn affidavits.
Under the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Bill 2018, which is expected to be enacted shortly, anyone who is shown to have misinformed the courts or exaggerated injuries, damages or losses could find themselves prosecuted. They would face up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to €100,000.
These measures may have ramifications for some claimants, their legal advisors and even medical professionals and other experts in how they handle and process statements and evidence.
The legislation was originally introduced by former Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh during the lifetime of the previous Oireachtas and was revived by the Regional Group of TDs last summer.
From an MIBI perspective we look forward to seeing this legislation enacted and implemented in the very near future and hope it will lead to the reduction in the number of suspicious claims.
We estimate that as many as one in eight of the claims received by the MIBI can be classified as ‘suspicious’. We are all too aware that some claims are not supported by the evidence provided. We have also been involved in a number of high profile cases where misleading and even false statements were made.
That was one of the prime motivations behind the introduction of the MIBI’s Fighting Fraud strategy. Under the commitments made in that strategy, we have undertaken to comprehensively evaluate all claims we receive.
Where the evidence does not support the claim we will legally contest it, including using the judgement of the courts system where necessary. We are also committed to working closely with the Gardaí in assisting them to report cases of this nature to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as appropriate.
That is why this legislation is so important. Anything that raises the bar and makes it more difficult for fraud to succeed is to be welcomed, as are any measures which enable those who engage in fraudulent activity to be punished.
We are thankful to those members of the Oireachtas who have supported this legislation and we hope it will not be much longer before it is officially signed into law.