White-collarcrime to top law reform agenda

The Law Reform Commission has said it will focus on a series of issues including new ways of tackling white-collar crime and cyberbullying in its fourth programme of deliberations.

Law Reform Commissioner Finola Flanagan said both issues had come up “repeatedly” in submissions to the commission, while other issues such as the specific offence of grooming would also be considered.

Eleven topics have been chosen for examination by the commission, with beefed-up laws on white-collar crime at the top of the agenda.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Flanagan said: “One of the things that came up repeatedly was this question of the adequacy of corporate offences and regulatory enforcement.”

She said there was a regulatory regime in Ireland with bodies such as the Central Bank and the Irish Medicines Board, but that the possibility of tougher and expanded laws would be explored. For example, she said while an offence of fraudulent trading exists, there is no law to cover reckless trading, such as in cases where a company incurs liabilities believing they would not be in a position to pay their debts.

Regarding sex offences, she said the area of grooming and laws that could address it would be explored, while the Department of Justice is also looking at laws covering sexual offences.

In relation to cyberbullying Ms Flanagan said it would need to examine whether existing laws are adequate in a digital world.

The special rapporteur on children, Geoffrey Shannon, has already called for cyberbullying to be made a specific offence and has also suggested other ways in which the victims of cyberbullying would be able to make a complaint while protecting their anonymity.

Speaking before an Oireachtas committee earlier this month, Mr Shannon said: “It would appear that difficulties exist in prosecuting cyber-bullying under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, and in particular the requirement that the harassment is persistent.”

He said one approach would be to expand the Post Office (Amendment) Act, 1951 to include emails and online communication, meaning more chance of prosecutions.

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