Overview of Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act, 2001

The primary purpose of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 is to update and consolidate the law relating to dishonesty and fraud.

The provisions of the Act are based in part on two reports: the Law Reform Commission Report of 1992 on The Law Relating to Dishonesty and the 1993 Report of the Government Advisory Committee on Fraud. The Act brings the law up to date and sets out various offences which amount to dishonest behaviour.

The Act also deals with offences of forgery and counterfeiting and, as with the other offences of dishonesty, it consolidates the law in these areas. Changes have also been made in the law relating to the investigation of offences under the Act and to trial procedures.

The Act also includes measures designed for the protection of the European Communitiesí financial interests from fraud and corruption and the protection of the Euro.

The Act was passed on 19th December 2001, and sections 23 (Designation of certain states or territorial units in respect of moneylaundering), 53 (Summary trial of indictable offences), 58 (Liability for offences by bodies corporate and unincorporated), and 60(1) (Evidence in proceedings) came into effect on that date.

The remaining sections of the Act (other than section 57, which has to do with the provision of information to juries) came into effect on 1st August 2002 (by virtue of Statutory Instrument number 252 of 2002).

Part 1 is introductory. Section 2 contains definitions of words and phrases used in the Act or specifies particular sections where such words and phrases are defined. Among the words and phrases defined in this section for the purposes of the Act are dishonesty, property, stolen property, unlawfully obtained, deception, owner and ownership. Section 3 provides that the Acts specified in the First Schedule are repealed to the extent set out there.

Many of the offences created under the older Acts are considered in Chapter 1 of Theft and Fraud Offences, on The Old Law. It also states that the common law offences of larceny, burglary, robbery, cheating, extortion under colour of office and forgery are abolished.

Part 2 sets out the main offences of theft and dishonesty. Apart from stealing or theft, these include deception where a gain or loss is made, and where services are obtained, making off without payment, using a computer unlawfully, false accounting, suppression of documents, burglary, robbery and possessing articles for use in committing certain offences.

Part 3 relates mainly to offences of handling or possessing stolen property and withholding information regarding stolen property. This Part also redefines the offence of moneylaundering contained in section 31, of the Criminal Justice Act, 1994.

Part 4 amends the law on forgery and replaced the existing statutory offences contained in the Forgery Acts of 1861 and 1913. It sets out the various offences relating to forgery and the copying and use of false instruments for the purpose of inducing a person to accept these as genuine with consequent prejudice to that person. Many words are defined such as instrument, false, making, prejudice, and induce.

Part 5 contains provisions against counterfeiting of currency notes and coins. Currency note and coin are defined to mean those lawfully issued or customarily used as money in the State or any other state. A counterfeit includes things which resemble currency notes and coins. Things representing one side only of a currency note or of parts of currency notes are also counterfeits.

Part 6 contains measures to counter fraud affecting the European Communities financial interests as well as corruption of or by officials. Words and phrases used are defined these include active corruption, passive corruption, community official, national official and sets out the circumstances in which a person will be deemed to have benefited from or derived pecuniary advantage from fraud or money laundering. It provides that various Convention and Protocols, with the exception of certain articles, will have the force of law in the State and that judicial notice will be taken of them. Judicial notice will also be taken of rulings and decisions and opinions of the Court of Justice of the European Communities .

Part 7 deals with the investigation of offences under the Act, including the granting of search warrants, forfeiture of property and orders to produce evidential material. It creates an offence for a person, knowing or suspecting that the Gardai are investigating an offence under the Act, to falsify, conceal or destroy any document relevant to the investigation.

Part 8, relating to the trial of offences, provides for summary trial of offences under the Act and for alternative verdicts concerning offences of stealing, handling or possessing stolen or unlawfully obtained property. It also provides for the restitution of property to the true owner and for the provision of documents to juries to assist them in their deliberations.

Part 9 deals with miscellaneous matters, including the liability of bodies corporate, admissibility of certain documents as evidence and amendments to certain acts. Section 56 sets out the definition of firm and relevant person (e.g. an auditor) for the purpose of reporting of offences and provides that a relevant person shall report to the Gardai any suspected offence by the firm or a partner, director, manager etc. indicated by the firmís accounts. Provision is made for the use in proceedings of a document (and translation of such a document) provided by a lawyer practicing in another state about comparable offences under the law of that state.

 

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Contents of Theft and Fraud Offences

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