Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (348)

Michael McGrath

Question:

348. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of court cases in each year since 2014 in which it has been shown that the claimant has made a fraudulent claim; the number of times per year the judge has referred the person to the Director of Public Prosecutions as specified in the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31101/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that section 25 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that it is an offence for a person to give or adduce evidence in a personal injuries action that is false or  misleading and that the person knows to be false or misleading, or to cause false or misleading evidence to be given or adduced with the intention of misleading the court. It is also an offence  for a person to give false or misleading instructions or information to a solicitor or expert in  relation to a personal injuries action or to cause false or misleading instructions or information to be given with the intention of misleading the court.

The Courts Service has advised that Courts Service statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the information requested by the Deputy. The Deputy will be aware that the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance by the Cost of Insurance Working Group recognised the data challenges in establishing the number of initial complaints and investigations through to the resultant cases of prosecutions and convictions relating to fraud within the personal injuries area and the Report made recommendations to address this matter. 

While the Courts Service was consulted in respect of recommendation 12 to commence producing statistics on prosecutions and convictions relating to fraud within the personal injuries area, it was considered that the addition of a specific Insurance Fraud category on the PULSE system would allow for the production of such statistics and consequently it was agreed that these statistics would be provided by An Garda Síochána rather that the Courts Service as originally envisaged.  

I am informed that while technical issues arose with the introduction of a new "insurance fraud" category on the PULSE system, these issues have now been resolved and the collection of statistics under the new category has commenced.

The most recent figures provided to me by An Garda Síochána show that, in the period 1 November 2018 to end May 2019, 50 incidents of insurance fraud were recorded on PULSE. This equates to just over seven reports per month, with 1 November 2018 being the date on which a new category for "insurance fraud" went live on PULSE. 50% of these incidents related to staged collisions.

It is important to note that the aforementioned figures refer to reports being made to An Garda Síochána in the respective timeframe. Many of the alleged incidents reported during that period are historical in nature and occurred outside of the reporting timeframe. 

It is also important to note that, while all incidents come under the umbrella of the "insurance fraud" category, not all of them relate to fraudulent insurance claims. For example, incidents of forged 'no claims bonus' documents, while being an insurance fraud, does not necessarily relate to an insurance claim. 

Finally, An Garda Síochána have stressed that the data is correct as at 6 June 2019.  However as it is operational data it is, therefore, subject to change. 

Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 321.