22 September, 2016
Zaman v Newcastle City Council
A finding of fundamental dishonesty is not the only way to have QOCS dis-applied. In this matter, the defendant successfully secured a costs order in its favour and the strike out of the claim after the Court concluded that the claimant's conduct interfered with the just disposal of proceedings.
Upon receipt of this RTA claim, the Insured had serious concerns regarding the legitimacy of the allegations. It was alleged that as a result of a road traffic accident involving the defendant's employee, the claimant suffered a personal injury. Liability was conceded but doubts remained over the extent of the claimant's injuries.
Detailed investigations revealed that the claimant had a background of criminal activity, a prior involvement in the storage and recovery of motor vehicles, and a significant history of previous accidents as well as links with others who had also been involved in road traffic accidents.
Despite the apparent fraud indicators there was insufficient evidence to establish a fraudulent claim. The defendant filed a robust defence setting out the various inconsistencies in the claim which ultimately prompted the claimant's solicitors to come off record and the claimant to go to ground.
The clamant defaulted on the case management directions in terms of disclosure and witness statements and the defendant made an application to strike out the claim. The case was struck out and the court awarded an order under CPR 44.15 dis-applying QOCS. The claimant's repetitive default persuaded the Judge that his conduct was an abuse of process and obstructive to the just proposal of proceedings.
This case demonstrates that there are alternative ways to dis-apply the effects of QOCS. CPR 44.15 is a useful tool where the conduct of the claimant can be brought into question. Whilst the law in this area is developing, it is encouraging that the Judge recognised that in this instance the claimant's actions were an abuse of process and as a result awarded the defendant its costs in full.
For more information, please contact Chris Booth by email or call 0161 918 0002.