Tuesday 12 December 2017

Call for new perjury laws to clamp down on fraudulent claims

Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh
Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Small and medium-sized businesses have called for the introduction of a perjury act to punish people who make false claims.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) has published a position paper arguing current perjury laws are too difficult to prosecute, with only one known case of a person being convicted for providing a false statement in a personal injuries case.

This is despite the fact several claims have been thrown out in recent years after evidence emerged clearly contradicting the plaintiff's version of events.

Isme is seeking a new offence in statute, with a penalty of up to five years in prison.

The proposal is being supported by Supermac's owner Pat McDonagh, who said his business was once in jeopardy due to the high volume of claims being made against it.

"The claims situation is running out of control," said Mr McDonagh.

"People can see they can pursue awards without any fear of penalty. It encourages people to claim."

At one point in 2004 Supermac's was dealing with 121 separate claims and the level only dropped after it began installing CCTV on a widespread basis.

"They could have put us out of business," he said.

Mr McDonagh said his company had reported fraudulent claims to gardaí but they had said it was not their business to investigate them.

He said if a judge does not refer a case of alleged fraudulent claiming to the DPP, nothing happens. Even in that event, prosecutions are very rare.

He said people who steal money from Supermac's get treated differently from people who try to extract money by way of false claims.

Mr McDonagh said this was "a cultural thing" and the tolerance of perjury by authorities had to change.

Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell said: "I think we have to have the bottle to call a lie for what it is. It's a lie. It's perjury."

Irish Independent

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