The Law And You: Perjury And False Declarations

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Last week, we dealt with aiders, abettors, suborners and false statements with reference to marriage, births and deaths, which are all offences that fall under the St. Christopher and Nevis Perjury Act Number Two of 2005.

This week, however, we shall continue our discussion on Perjury but within the context of false declaration to obtain registration and forms of indictment.

In continuance of our discussion, the DPP said that the law reads, “Anyone who procures or attempts to procure himself to be registered on any register or roll kept under or in pursuance of any enactment for the time being in force of persons qualified by law to practice any vocation or calling; or

“Procures or attempts to procure a certificate of registration of any person on any such register or roll by wilfully making or producing or causing to be made or produced, either verbally or in writing, any declaration, certificate or representation, which he knows to be false or fraudulent, commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years, or a fine not less than EC$5,000 and more than EC$10,000 or both.”

Addressing forms of indictment, the DPP noted that in any indictment punishable under the Perjury Act, it should be sufficient to set out the substance of the offence charged and before which court or person the offence was committed, without setting out the proceedings or any part of the proceedings in the course of which the offence was committed, and without setting out the authority of any court or person before whom the offence was committed.

He said those indictments included: “The making of any false statement or false representation; the unlawful, wilful, false, fraudulent, deceitful, malicious or corrupt taking, making, signing or subscribing of any oath, affirmation, solemn declaration, voluntary declaration, affidavit, deposition, application, notice or other writing; and the wilful making of inconsistent or contradictory statements on oath in a judicial proceeding.”

The DPP added that in an indictment for aiding, abetting, counselling, suborning or procuring any other person to commit an offence specified in this section, or for conspiring with any other person, or with attempting to suborn or procure any other person to commit any such offence, it should be sufficient:

“Where such offence has been committed, to allege that offence, and then to allege that the defendant procured the commission of that offence; and

“Where such offence has not been committed, to set out the substance of the offence charged against the defendant without setting out any matter or thing which it is necessary to aver in the case of an indictment for a false statement or false representation punishable under this Act.”

He also stated that an individual could not be convicted for any offence against this Act or for any offence declared by any other enactment to be perjury or subordination of perjury, solely based on the evidence of a single witness as to the falsity of any statement alleged to be false.

Proof of certain proceedings on which perjury is assigned was also explained by the DPP.

He said that following prosecution for perjury alleged to have been committed on the trial of an indictment for felony or misdemeanour or procuring or suborning the commission of perjury on any such trial, “The fact of the former trial shall be sufficiently proved by the production of a certificate containing the substance and effect omitting the formal parts of the indictment and trial purporting to be assigned by the Registrar or other officer having the custody of the records of the court where the indictment was tried, without proof of the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed the certificate.”

Additionally, the DPP stated that where the making of a false statement is not only an offence under this Act, but also by virtue of some other enactment is a corrupt practice or subjects the offender to any forfeiture or disqualification or to any penalty other than imprisonment or fine, the liability of the offender under this Act shall be in addition to and not in substitution for his liability under such other enactment.

“Nothing in this Act, however, shall apply to a statement made without oath by a child under the provisions of the Juveniles Act. And where the making of a false statement is by any other enactment, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act, made punishable on summary conviction, proceedings may be taken either under such other enactment or under this Act. The perjury Act (Chapter 57) will then be repealed (revoked),” Merchant said.

The National Assembly passed this amended Perjury Act of St. Christopher and Nevis on February 24, 2005.

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