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compo culture Insurance scammers face up to 10 years in prison as 'long overdue' law is passed

The move has been widely welcomed by business groups


TD Sean Canney told the Dáil the Bill is long over-due. Photo: Tom Burke

TD Sean Canney told the Dáil the Bill is long over-due. Photo: Tom Burke

TD Sean Canney told the Dáil the Bill is long over-due. Photo: Tom Burke

Insurance scammers will now face up to 10 years in jail and a €100,000 fine after a new law was passed to crack down on ‘compo culture’.

People who lie under oath or in sworn affidavits will now face prosecution as perjury will be on a statutory footing for the first time in Ireland.

Under the legislation, legal and medical professionals will also be indicted if they are found to have knowingly assisted in the bringing of a fraudulent claim.

The move has been widely welcomed by business groups and those who have long campaigned for insurance reform.

A regional group of nine independent TDs, which includes Denis Naughten and Sean Canney, said the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Bill 2018 will “penalise those who lie under oath for personal gain”.

“This bill is long overdue,” Mr Canney told the Dáil.

In a statement, the regional group said the bill isn’t just about insurance claims, but also “the core administration of justice in our society”.

“Insurance claims place a burden of hundreds of millions of euros annually on charities, sporting bodies, motorists, homeowners, and business owners through excessive insurance costs,” the group said.

“It will address those lying about the extent of their injuries, telling lies under oath by directors of big corporations and swearing facts on affidavits under oath that either include deliberate, or reckless untruths.

“This bill sends as a clear message to anyone engaged in legal proceedings that they need to be mindful of telling the truth and that any deliberate departure from the truth may have serious consequences at the judge’s discretion to impose.”

The bill will still have to go back to the Seanad as a formality, but it is hoped to be enacted as soon as practically possible.

It was introduced by former senator Padraig Ó Céidigh, who was commended by the regional group for his work on it.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME) said it is “delighted” the bill has finally passed.

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Chief executive Neil McDonnell told Independent.ie: “We acknowledge this offence will not be a silver bullet in the fight against exaggerated and false claims, but it will be an essential weapon in the armoury against them. We have always seen the most important function of a perjury statute as acting as a deterrent in the white collar crime sphere.

“The enactment of a perjury statute will serve no purpose in the absence of a willingness and determination by the authorities to use it. We therefore see the need for cultural change to take place among the judiciary, the gardaí and the DPP. It is essential that these authorities use the new offence to punish those who seek to deprive others of truth, money, property, liberty or family.”

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