15 March, 2017
Brown v Calderdale
The Claimant made a claim against the local authority after allegedly sustaining personal injury. Breach of statutory duty was conceded and the claim was issued as causation was in issue. Serious concerns were however raised upon receipt of the claim for Special Damages. The Claimant sought £37,500 for loss of profit. She alleged that she was a sole practitioner of her own company which specialised in tax advice. She claimed the accident prevented her from working and that she consequently lost work from two large national companies. Upon requesting contractual confirmation, she produced two highly suspicious documents.
The disclosed contracts were poorly drafted and lacked the level of professionalism we would have expected from the two companies apparently involved. To verify the legitimacy of the documents, the signatories to the contracts were tracked down and both directors confirmed that the signatures on the contracts were not theirs, that they had not signed the documents and both gave witness evidence to confirm this. Upon exchange of witness statements, the Claimant promptly discontinued the claim and agreed to pay the Council's costs in full.
At the outset of the claim there was insufficient evidence to plead fundamental dishonesty. In depth investigation only latterly proved that the suspicions surrounding the disclosed contracts were justified at which point the Claimant discontinued the claim.
Following a robust investigation of the claim and the alleged losses, the Defendant was finally in a position to amend the defence to plead Section 57 of the Criminal Justice & Courts Act 2015, with a view to having the entirety of the claim dismissed. Ultimately, this course of action did not prove necessary as the Claimant discontinued the claim and paid the Defendant's costs in full. Financially, this proved to be a more advantageous option for the Defendant as if a Section 57 finding had been pursued, the value of the 'legitimate' aspect of the claim would have been deducted from the costs.
This case demonstrates that no one matter is identical and that the enquiries required to be undertaken are often unique to the issues of a particular case. There is no 'one size fits all' to the enquiries that are required. It is essential that all aspects of a case are scrutinised carefully to ensure that no opportunity to challenge the evidence presented is lost.
For more information, please contact Chris Booth by email or call 0161 918 0000.