A new perjury law is required to end the cultural tolerance among the judiciary and some sections of society for telling lies for cash, according to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme).
The group is proposing the introduction of a perjury act in order to cut down on the number of false claims for personal injuries against small businesses.
Currently, perjury is prosecuted under common law and is not on the statute books.
Isme chairman Cian Murtagh said yesterday that the new law could and should be introduced by the autumn.
“It is completely unacceptable that Irish law facilitates the rip-off of Irish business and Irish motorists through false and exaggerated claims,” he said.
Speaking at an event to publicise the proposal, Pat McDonagh, founder of Supermac’s fast food chain, said spurious personal injuries claims have been on the rise in recent years for the first time since 2004, when his company began producing video evidence in court.
He also noted that another issue that has arisen recently is one of individuals suing businesses for defamation by purporting to steal, and when subsequently intercepted by security staff claiming that they are being wrongly accused.
“There are genuine claims out there but there are also so many false and exaggerated claims,” he said.
Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell pointed out that most other western jurisdictions have perjury on the statute books, including the UK where it appears to be much easier to prosecute the offence.
“We want to flag to judges that it is not acceptable to tell lies for money. We want to say that perjury is perjury, it is a cultural thing that has to change,” Mr McDonnell said.
The call for a perjury act echoes a submission on white collar crime by the Competition Authority in 2011, which pointed out a new act would make it easier to prosecute the offence rather than having to do so under the existing common law.
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