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New perjury legislation to cover statements made to Inquiries and Tribunals

Eimear Burke



Proposed statutory offence of perjury to include false statements made on oath to tribunals under the Perjury and Related Offences Bill 2018 (“the Bill”). Perjury and Related Offences Bill The purpose of the Perjury and Related Offences Bill 2018 (“the Bill”) is to legislate for the common law offence of perjury. From a public policy perspective, it is hoped that the new legislation will be an effective means of dealing with insurance fraud. Perjury is defined under Section 2(1) of the Bill to include any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial or other proceeding who gives a statement material in that proceeding that is (a) false, and (b) known by the witness to be false. The wording of this definition extends beyond a court setting to include proceedings before any tribunal or inquiry having by law power to hear, receive and examine evidence on oath. Statements made on oath The scope of the proposed offence is outlined in Section 2(2) of the Bill to include any statement made for the purpose of a proceeding that is not made before the court or tribunal but is made on oath before a person authorised by law to administer an oath to the person making the statement and to record or authenticate the statement. Such an offence is committed once a statement has been sworn under oath by a person who is due to appear before a tribunal of inquiry, even where this written statement will not be presented at the proceedings. Status of the Bill The Bill is currently before Seanad Éireann where it has completed the Committee Stage. The purpose of the Committee Stage is to discuss any potential amendments to the Bill. The next stage will be for the amendments arising out of Committee Stage to be considered by the Seanad before proceeding to the final stage in the Seanad where any final statements relating to the Bill will be made.