Debates between Lord Faulks and Lord Trevethin and Oaksey during the 2019 Parliament

Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Trevethin and Oaksey
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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Further to what the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, has said, the use of the phrase “false statements” rather than “inaccurate statements” is quite significant. A false statement carries with it the connotation of a deliberate inaccuracy, whereas simply getting something wrong is rather different. I agree with him that without reasonable excuse the prosecution would have to prove the absence of a reasonable excuse, which is contrary to the concept of a strict liability offence.

Lord Trevethin and Oaksey Portrait Lord Trevethin and Oaksey (CB)
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I agree with what the noble Lords say. It occurs to me that the intention of calling this a strict liability offence but including the concept of “reasonable excuse” might be to impose a burden on the person who is responsible for filing the misleading statement to demonstrate a reasonable excuse—shifting the presumption, as it were. That might work. It would not quite be a strict liability offence, but it would make it relatively easier to prosecute the matter where a false statement was filed, and it would cater for the rare case—like the person trying to persuade a committee in the other place a few days ago—where the person filing the statement was entirely blameless because they had acted honestly and reasonably in reliance on information supplied by someone else. In that rare case, where the person who had made an error and filed a false statement but was entirely blameless could demonstrate that, it seems right that they should avoid a conviction.

To echo a point made in relation to a different amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, I am slightly troubled by the further subsection that talks about an offence being committed by

“every officer of the entity who is in default”.

At the moment I am not certain what that is getting at, and I simply seek clarification.