Court Ruling Could Hit Fake Claims Culture

Wed, 19 Aug 2015

The tide may be turning in the fight against fraudulent insurance claims, as British courts look set to clamp down on ‘fundamental dishonesty’ in the sector.

Charles Crow, a Barrister with No5 Chambers specialising in fraudulent insurance claims, has this month successfully secured and enforceable costs award for LV, who was the subject of a discontinued personal injury claim. Mr Crow, who was instructed by insurance industry law firm Horwich Farrelly, successfully argued that the claimant had acted dishonestly when he submitted a claim worth around £3,500.

Mr Crow said: “The claims industry will doubtless take note of a judgement in which a court has ordered that costs be fully enforceable again a claimant described in court as a ‘dishonest individual’.”

And the ruling could be good news for motorists, who according to new industry data, face a 15 per cent rise in insurance costs due to the prevalence of fake claims.

At Conwy and Colwyn County Court last week, before DJ Jones-Evans, Mr Crow’s client applied for the costs award to be ordered as enforceable following the discontinuance of the claim.

The background of the case involved a road traffic accident in which the wing mirror of a moving car clipped that of a stationary car. Some months later, the man in the stationary car - the claimant - produced a Claim Notification Form (CNF) seeking reimbursement for personal injury, care and expenses.

The defendant, Mr Crow’s client, looked to defend the claim, and the case was listed for trial. But following the appointment of Counsel and the emergence of ‘glaring inconsistencies’ in the claimant’s evidence, in June this year the claim was discontinued.

Judge Jones-Evans said: “Prior to April 2013 the discontinuance would have led to an automatically enforceable costs order in the Defendant’s favour. However, since various reforms, QOCS (Qualified one-way costs shifting) has provided protection for valid Claimants, in that there can be no enforcement of such a costs order.

“Rule 44.16(1) however provides an exception to this, in cases which are found to be fundamentally dishonest.

“Following the discontinuance in this case there was immediately an application for such a finding, and that is the single issue before me today.”

In considering whether costs should be enforceable, the district judge said there were two aspects that needed to be considered: had the claimant presented a dishonest case, and was the dishonesty fundamental.

In a scathing findings against the claimant, who attended to give evidence and be cross-examined, he said the answer to both was yes, referring to the claimant as a ‘dishonest individual’, someone who ‘makes it up as he goes along’ and who, he said, had presented a ‘false claim’.

Charles Crow was called to the Bar in 1999. He is particularly experienced in the field of RTA fraud including phantom passenger claims, induced accidents, ‘exaggeration’ and ‘malingering’ cases, acting for both claimants and defendants.

No5 Chambers is one of the UK’s premier set of barristers’ chambers with offices in Birmingham, London, Bristol and East Midlands and boasts more than 240 barristers and 28 silks. 

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