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Damages award cancelled after claim ruled “fundamentally dishonest”

An award of damages has been struck out after it was found that the claim was "fundamentally dishonest".

The case represents the first time Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act has been invoked. As of last year, the Act gives judges the ability to strike out a case in its entirety when fundamental dishonesty has been demonstrated in any area of the claim.

What happened in the case?

In the case of Hugh, Kindon and Jones v KGM, three Claimants were allegedly injured following a “very minor” accident with the motor insurance policy holder, represented by Horwich Farrelly.

One Claimant, Mr Jones, had his claim struck out for failing to provide witness evidence at all.

A number of inconsistencies then emerged at trial in relation to the injuries suffered by remaining Claimants Mr Hugh and Mr Kindon.

The Claimants claimed that their injuries had persisted for a year. However, Deputy District Judge Eaton-Hart found that the impact of the minor accident was sufficient to have caused injury for a period of just two weeks, rather than the 12 months claimed.

On this basis, Mr Hugh and Mr Kindon were awarded nominal damages of £750 each.

Following the Court’s decision, the Defendant argued that Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act was invoked, given the Claimant’s dishonest claims that their injuries were considerably more severe than was in fact the case.

On the basis of the Defendant’s submissions, Deputy District Judge Eaton-Hart held that the two remaining claims would in fact be struck out in their entirety, with no award of damages.

In making his ruling Deputy District Judge Eaton-Hart stated that the Claimants had “presented a deliberately inaccurate position…for financial gain”. He did not find that the Claimants would suffer any substantial injustice as a result of this decision.

In addition to losing their damages, given the automatic loss of Qualified One Way Costs Shifting protection, the Claimants were also ordered to pay £6,100 costs and were denied permission to appeal.

What does this mean for defendants?

Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 states that where a claim is found to be fundamentally dishonest in any part, the Court may now dismiss the whole claim – even if it includes genuine elements – unless to do so would cause ‘substantial injustice’.

This sends the clear signal that dishonesty will not be tolerated and the Claimant faces losing not only their entitlement to legitimate damages, but also leaves them at risk of considerable costs consequences.

The findings in the case of Hugh, Kindon and Jones v KGM represent a very important step for defendants in personal injury litigation and should go some way to instil confidence in the new rules under Section 57.

It demonstrates that the Courts are willing to take a strong view of dishonesty, irrespective of whether some of the claim remains valid.

One can hope this case will prove persuasive in discouraging exaggeration of claims.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

Ward Hadaway consistently monitors all claims closely for signs of potential dishonesty. Please contact a member of the Healthcare team if you consider we can be of any assistance.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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