Ethics in Public Office Act 1995

Powers of Committees and Commission.

32

32. (1) A Committee and the Commission shall hold sittings for the purpose of an investigation by it under this Act and at the sittings may receive submissions and such evidence as it thinks fit.

(2) The chairman of a Committee may for the purposes of the functions of the Committee and the chairman of the Commission may for the purposes of the functions of the Commission—

( a) direct in writing the person the subject of the investigation concerned to attend before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, on a date and at a time and place specified in the direction,

( b) direct in writing any other person whose evidence is required by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, to attend before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, on a date and at a time and place specified in the direction and there to give evidence and to produce any document or thing in his or her possession or power specified in the direction,

( c) direct any person (other than a person referred to in paragraph (a)) in attendance before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, to produce to the Commission or the Committee, as the case may be, any document or thing in his or her possession or power specified in the direction,

( d) direct in writing any person (other than a person referred to in paragraph (a)) to send to the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, any document or thing in his or her possession or power specified in the direction, and

( e) give any other directions for the purpose of the proceedings concerned that appear to him or her to be reasonable and just.

(3) The reasonable expenses of witnesses directed under subsection (2) (b) to attend before a Committee or the Commission shall, subject to sections 11 and 26 , be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

(4) A person who—

( a) having been directed under subsection (2) to attend before a Committee or the Commission and, in the case of a person so directed under paragraph (b) of that subsection, having had tendered to him or her any sum in respect of the expenses of his or her attendance which a witness summoned to attend before the High Court would be entitled to have tendered to him or her, without just cause or excuse disobeys the direction,

( b) being in attendance before a Committee or the Commission pursuant to a direction under the said paragraph (b), refuses to take the oath on being required by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, to do so or refuses to answer any question to which the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, may legally require an answer or to produce any document or thing in his or her possession or power legally required by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, to be produced by the person,

( c) fails or refuses to send to the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, any document or thing legally required by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, under paragraph (d) of subsection (2) to be sent to it by the person or without just cause or excuse disobeys a direction under paragraph (d) of subsection (2), or

( d) does any other thing in relation to the proceedings before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, which, if done in relation to proceedings before a court by a witness in the court, would be contempt of that court,

shall be guilty of an offence.

F87 [ (4A) A Committee or the Commission may, for sufficient reason if it considers it appropriate to do so, arrange for the examination of a person at any place in or outside the State by, in the case of a Committee, a member of the Committee, a member of the staff of the Committee or any other person and, in the case of the Commission, by a member of the Commission, a member of the staff of the Commission or any other person and may receive, in such form as it may determine, the evidence of the person taken at the examination, and the relevant rules of court relating to evidence in proceedings in the High Court shall apply in relation to the matters aforesaid with any necessary modifications.

(4B) In relation to the matters specified in subsection (1) and (2) and, in so far as they relate to a Committee or the Commission, subsection (4A), a Committee or the Commission shall have all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court on the occasion of an action and, in relation to the matters specified in subsection (4A), in so far as they relate to a person conducting an examination pursuant to that subsection, that person shall have all the powers, rights and privileges aforesaid. ]

(5) If a person gives false evidence before a Committee or the Commission in such circumstances that, if he or she had given the evidence before a court, he or she would be guilty of perjury, he or she shall be guilty of that offence.

(6) The procedure of a Committee or the Commission in relation to an investigation by it under this Act shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be such as shall be determined by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, and the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, shall, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, make provision for—

( a) notifying the complainant, in the case of a complaint under section 8 or 22 , and notifying the person the subject of the investigation of the date, time and place of the relevant sitting of the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be,

( b) giving the person the subject of the investigation a statement of the contravention of this Act F87 [ or the Act of 1997 or the specified act ] alleged, the names of the witnesses whom it is proposed to call to give evidence before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, relating to such contravention, a copy of each statement intended to be used at the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, and an indication in writing of the nature and source of any information relating to the matter which has come to notice in the course of the investigation of the alleged contravention which may be favourable to the person aforesaid and of which he or she may be unaware,

( c) enabling the person the subject of the investigation and, in the case of a complaint, the complainant or a person representing the complainant to be present at the relevant sitting of the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, and enabling the person the subject of the investigation to present his or her case to the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, in person or through a legal or other representative,

( d) enabling written statements to be admissible as evidence by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, with the consent of the person the subject of the investigation,

( e) enabling any signature appearing on a document produced before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, to be taken, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to be that of the person whose signature it purports to be,

( f) the examination by or on behalf of the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, and the cross-examination by or on behalf of the person the subject of the investigation concerned (on oath or otherwise as it may determine) of witnesses before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, called by it,

( g) the examination by or on behalf of the person the subject of the investigation and the cross-examination by or on behalf of the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be (on oath or otherwise as the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, may determine), of witnesses before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, called by the person the subject of the investigation,

( h) the determination by the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, whether evidence at the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, should be given on oath,

( i) the administration by the chairman of the Committee or the chairman of the Commission, as the case may be, of the oath to witnesses before the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be, and

( j) the making of a sufficient record of the proceedings of the Committee or the Commission, as the case may be.

(7) A decision of a Committee or the Commission in relation to an investigation by it under this Act or any question arising in the course of such an investigation may be that of a majority of its members.

F88 [ (8) A person whose evidence has been, is being or is to be given before

( a ) a Committee or the Commission,

( b ) an inquiry officer, or

( c ) a person for the purposes of an examination by him or her pursuant to subsection (4A),

or who produces or sends a document to a person referred to in paragraph ( a ), ( b ) or ( c ) or who is directed by the chairman of a Committee or the chairperson of the Commission or requested by a person referred to in paragraph ( b ) or ( c ), for the purposes referred to in that paragraph, to give evidence or produce a document to the Committee or the Commission or to the person referred to in paragraph ( b ) or ( c ) or to attend before the Committee or the Commission or the person and there to give evidence or produce a document shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities in respect of those matters as a witness before the High Court in respect of evidence. ]

(9) Sittings of a Committee or the Commission for the purposes of an investigation by it under this Act may be held in private.

(10) A Committee or the Commission may adjourn or postpone proceedings in relation to an investigation under section 9 or 23 , as the case may be.

(11) The following shall be absolutely privileged:

( a) documents of the Commission, and documents of its members connected with the Commission or its functions, wherever published,

( b) reports of the Commission, wherever published,

( c) statements made in any form at meetings or sittings of the Commission by its members F89 [ ,advisers, agents ] or officials and such statements wherever published subsequently.

F90 [ (11A) Utterances made by a person conducting an examination pursuant to subsection (4A), or an inquiry officer, for the purpose of the performance of his or her functions under this Act, shall be absolutely privileged and such utterances and documents prepared by those persons for the purposes of such performance shall be absolutely privileged wherever published subsequently.

(11B) Utterances made otherwise than at meetings of a Committee or the Commission of members, advisers, officials or agents of the Committee or the Commission for the purposes of the performance of their functions under this Act or the Act of 2001 shall be absolutely privileged and those utterances and documents of such advisers, officials and agents connected with a Committee or the Commission or its functions shall be absolutely privileged wherever published subsequently. ]

Annotations:

Amendments:

F87

Inserted (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 13(1) and sch. 1, S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Resolution of Dáil Éireann: Debates Volume 546, 6 December 2001. Resolution of Seanad Éireann: Debates Volume 168, 28 November 2001.

F88

Substituted (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 13(1) and sch. 1, S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Resolution of Dáil Éireann: Debates Volume 546, 6 December 2001. Resolution of Seanad Éireann: Debates Volume 168, 28 November 2001.

F89

Inserted (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 13(1) and sch. 1, S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Resolution of Dáil Éireann: Debates Volume 546, 6 December 2001. Resolution of Seanad Éireann: Debates Volume 168, 28 November 2001.

F90

Inserted (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 13(1) and sch. 1, S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Resolution of Dáil Éireann: Debates Volume 546, 6 December 2001. Resolution of Seanad Éireann: Debates Volume 168, 28 November 2001.

Modifications (not altering text):

C19

Application of subs. (8) restricted (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 16(1), S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Admissibility of certain evidence.

16.—(1) Notwithstanding subsection (8) of section 32 of the Principal Act—

( a) a person who gives evidence before a Committee or the Commission or to a person for the purposes of an examination by him or her pursuant to subsection (4A) of that section shall not be entitled to refuse to answer any question put to him or her, and

( b) a person shall not be entitled to refuse to produce or send a document pursuant to a direction,

on the ground that his or her answer or the document might incriminate him or her.

C20

Powers in section expanded (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 18, S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Discovery of documents.

18.—(1) The chairman of a Committee may for the purposes of the functions of the Committee and the chairperson of the Commission may for the purposes of the functions of the Commission direct in writing any person to make discovery on oath of any documents that are or have been in the possession or control of the person relating to any matter relevant to the functions of the Committee or, as the case may be, the Commission and to specify in the affidavit of documents concerned any documents mentioned therein which the person objects to produce to the Committee or, as the case may be, the Commission and the grounds for the objection; and the rules of court relating to the discovery of documents in proceedings in the High Court shall apply in relation to the discovery of documents pursuant to this subsection with any necessary modifications.

(2) Where a person, in relation to the discovery of documents pursuant to subsection (1), contravenes a rule of court referred to in that subsection, the High Court may, on application to it in that behalf in a summary manner by the chairman of the Committee concerned or, as the case may be, the chairperson of the Commission, order the person to comply with the rule and make such other (if any) order as it considers necessary and just.

Editorial Notes:

E55

Sanction for non-cooperation prescribed (10.12.2001) by Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (31/2001), s. 17, S.I. No. 576 of 2001 and resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Resolution of Dáil Éireann: Debates Volume 546, 6 December 2001. Resolution of Seanad Éireann: Debates Volume 168, 28 November 2001.