So, apparently we now all live in a post-truth era where Donald Trump is the leader of the free world. However, unlike the new dawn heralded in by The Donald’s press secretary this weekend, the legal framework concerning ‘facts’ remains the same for you and I .
Evidence in Court must be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or so help you. Certainly, no judge would take kindly to being told ‘alternative facts’ and woe betide the brave plaintiff or defendant who would try to wiggle their way out of disclosing something unfavourable to them with such an excuse.
In a personal injuries case, each document filed in court must be accompanied by an Affidavit of Verification. An affidavit is essentially written evidence as opposed to oral evidence that is presented in a Court, and both types of evidence are supported by the weight of it being given ‘under oath’. This process of verifying affidavits was introduced in the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004. Essentially at each stage of the process an affidavit must be filed on the court file to confirm that the facts and assertions made are true.
Sins of Omission
The rules also provide that the affidavit state the person swearing the affidavit is aware that it is an offence to make a statement in the affidavit that it is false or misleading in any material respect or that the person swearing the affidavit knows to be false or misleading. What is ‘material’ is for the judge to decide. The penalty is significant, punishable by a fine not exceeding €100,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years. The purpose of these affidavits is to fix the evidence to be adduced by the person when the case comes to trial, so each side knows the case they have to meet. A case for personal injuries can be a tricky and complex business. It can be easy to stray from the truth into the realm of alternative facts, but the importance for the success of any personal injury case is that it is presented warts and all. Any deviation from the truth can go to the heart of the case and completely undermine the credibility of your case, not to mention lead to an adverse finding with all of the penalties that can bring.
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At Carmody Moran Solicitors our expert solicitors are on hand to advise you at each step of the way of your personal injury case and will give professional and expert advice that you can rely upon and trust. We know that bringing any case is stressful and that you need excellent and knowledgeable representation from advocates who you know will work hard to get you a successful outcome. For more information contact us here.
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Niamh Moran is a partner at Carmody Moran Solicitors in Dublin. Niamh’s litigation experience includes injury claims law (both Plaintiff and Defendant) and is an Advisory Board Member of the State Claims Agency.