28 November, 2013
Forbes have recently successfully pleaded fraud against an individual who claimed he sustained serious injury due to an accident at work.
The Claimant's case was that he had injured his knee, which ultimately required surgery, when he fell from his works van whilst accessing the rear via the back bumper. It was alleged, inter alia, that the Defendant had failed to ensure the van was constructed or adapted so as to be suitable for the purpose for which it used.
Breach of duty was initially conceded prior to a number of employees coming forward to raise concerns regarding a potential fraud. The Claimant had repeatedly boasted to them, that contrary to his pleaded case, he had in fact sustained the injury in question whilst on a trampoline under the influence of alcohol at a BBQ.
It was put to the Claimant's solicitors that this was a fraudulent claim and in response, proceedings were issued and served against the Defendant. The Claimant did provide a witness statement from another colleague who purported to have witnessed the incident. Contemporaneous accident documentation was supportive, in the main, to the Claimant's case.
Forbes, following a discussion with the witnesses, decided there was sufficient evidence to specifically plead fraud and a defence was entered in this regard.
The claim was robustly pursued by the Claimant throughout however Forbes presented the court with detailed witness statements from the Defendant's employees in relation to the comments the Claimant had made. A thorough review of the Claimant's medical records was also carried out; these appeared relatively consistent with what he alleged at first glance however did contain a number of important discrepancies. Tracker information in respect of the Claimant and his witness' vehicles was also obtained and relied upon.
Ultimately, the Trial Judge concluded that he preferred the account of the Defendant's witnesses and, whilst he accepted the Claimant's witness had seen an 'incident' involving the Claimant and his van (therefore exonerating the witness from any involvement in the plot), he considered the Claimant had used this incident to commence an elaborate plot with a view to fraudulently claiming compensation from his employer.
The Claimant's claim was dismissed with the Judge finding it had fraudulent origins and the Defendant was awarded its full costs.
This case demonstrates that working in close partnership with the client from the very start was crucial. The holding of an early conference with witnesses to assess credibility prior to the filing of a defence and the preparation of detailed statements was instrumental in achieving this excellent outcome. It also emphasises the importance of organisations engendering a positive culture and zero tolerance towards fraud so that employees feel confident to raise concerns regarding inappropriate activities.