06 October, 2016
Forbes have secured two further findings of fundamental dishonesty in the cases of Sharkey v Bury Council and Strachan v Bury Council.
In the first matter, the claimant alleged that he had fallen over a kerbstone but social media checks revealed that he had told the world, through Facebook, that he had fallen in his mum's lounge.
Following the accident, he claimed to have sustained significant lost earnings as a result of injuries to his wrist. The claimant worked as a hairdresser and he alleged that he had been unable to work. Once again, social media confirmed that he had been working during the period when he claimed that he was incapacitated.
Upon receipt of the compelling social media evidence, the claimant promptly discontinued his claim against the local authority. The defendant made a successful application for fundamental dishonesty, the Court overturned QOCS and awarded the defendant its costs, with permission to enforce granted.
In the second matter, the claimant alleged that she had fallen in a pothole. As a result of the fall, she claimed that she had cut her forehead above her right eye leaving an unsightly scar. A detailed search of social media showed that in fact the scar was longstanding. The defendant disclosed the evidence and the claimant responded that that there had been a misunderstanding and explained the scar she was claiming for was much less visible and positioned on the other side of her face. The photographs, medical evidence and the early offers to settle were clearly intended to misrepresent the extent of her injuries and to deceive the defendant.
In addition, fraud checks revealed that the claimant had links to others who had submitted claims in similar circumstances. Notably, the claimant could be linked to a claimant against whom we had previously secured a finding of fundamental dishonesty.
The defendant disclosed all the evidence and after a succession of ever reducing offers to settle, the claimant discontinued. An application for fundamental dishonesty was successful, the Court overturned QOCS and awarded the defendant its costs, with permission to enforce granted.
Social media can be a highly useful resource for defendants in the quest to corroborate statements made in the pursuit of claims for compensation. It is rare that it is used in isolation but with the right facts, the evidence can be used to undermine and discredit claimants and is often used in conjunction with intelligence obtained by other covert means. In the above claims, the evidence obtained and disclosed was sufficient to force both claimants to discontinue their claims. As previously reported, filing a notice of discontinuance does not prevent a defendant from seeking a finding of fundamental dishonesty against a claimant which must be made on application to the Court. It is crucial that the evidence obtained, be it from social media enquiries or otherwise, is meticulously assembled and presented to persuade the Court to make the necessary finding.