Private members’ bill seeks to increase penalties for fraudulent claims
A private member’s bill to increase penalties for fraudulent claims has been introduced to the Dáil.
Independent TD Denis Naughten yesterday introduced the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2021 on behalf of the nine-strong Regional Group, which believes it will help to tackle insurance fraud.
Mr Naughten said: “There is no downside to bringing a fraudulent claim. While there have been cases of claims being thrown out of court, there has been no follow-up or penalties as a result. If there is no cost to or consequence of engaging in this practice, it will go on.”
The bill is loosely based on the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2019 introduced by Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath, now a government minister, which lapsed when the Dáil dissolved for the 2020 election.
Mr Naughten told TDs: “Its aim is to act as a genuine deterrent to those making false claims by increasing penalties for such offences, imposing legal costs on the plaintiff and having such matters referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for investigation at the court’s discretion.
“There is no single measure that can tackle insurance costs but fraudulent and exaggerated claims have increased the cost of insurance premiums and have an impact right across this country. It is a minority of claimants who make fraudulent insurance claims but every single week An Garda Síochána receives reports of such claims.”
He added: “The purpose is to increase the penalties for those found guilty of an offence under section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. It deals with fraudulent actions.
“It differs from the Minister’s Bill in that it intends to amend section 26 to ensure that, in the event of a case being struck out because of fraudulent evidence, the court may direct that the matter be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for investigation, but it leaves that discretion with the judge.
“This is an innovative provision in Irish law.”