The Irish Court of Appeal has upheld a provision that establishes a reverse burden of proof in certain bribery cases.

The case involved a former Fine Gael Councillor who was convicted of six counts of bribery for which he received six years imprisonment. He was found guilty under Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 for payments in relation to a planning application for the development of land at Ballygagin, County Waterford.

The prosecution relied on Section 4 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 2001, which reverses the burden of proof under Section 1 in certain circumstances, if “any gift, consideration or advantage has been given to or received by a person… shall be deemed to have been given and received corruptly as an inducement to or reward for the person performing or omitting to perform any of the functions aforesaid unless the contrary is proved”.

On the burden of proof, the appeal turned on whether Section 4 imposes a legal or evidential burden of proof on the accused. Should there be legal burden of proof, the accused would have to prove on the balance of probabilities that the payments were not made corruptly. Conversely, evidential burden of proof would require the prosecution to prove that the payments were made corruptly, then allowing the accused to raise reasonable doubt …

This is an extract from the PILA Bulletin of 12th October 2016.

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