Rumbled Claimant Fundamentally Dishonest

Article

26 April, 2017

Bennett v Newcastle City Council

Forbes has secured another finding of fundamental dishonesty this week after a claimant who had allegedly tripped and sustained an ankle fracture on the highway discontinued his claim against Newcastle City Council.

The defendant put pressure on the claimant to discontinue his claim after investigations revealed that the claimant had made at least 13 other claims for personal injury and that he was linked to the independent witness who had come to his assistance following the accident. A social media search confirmed that the claimant and the witness were friends. The claimant repeatedly denied knowing the witness.

Furthermore, it was brought to the claimant's attention that despite claiming that he was unable to drive or work following the accident, his girlfriend had continued to advertise his removal business and exchanges on social media sites verified that the claimant had been working during the period he had claimed damages for loss of earnings.

In September 2016 the claimant finally discontinued his claim and the defendant made a prompt application seeking a finding of fundamental dishonesty. The claimant was given the opportunity to provide a statement, but he was unable to explain any of the discrepancies raised by the defendant.

At the hearing, it was found that the claimant had been fundamentally dishonest in two ways:

  • he had deliberately misled the medical expert, his own solicitors and the defendant as to his capacity to work; and
  • he had falsely informed the defendant that he did not know the witness in an attempt to preserve the witness as an independent eyewitness to put pressure on the defendant to settle the claim.

The Court ordered that the claimant should pay the defendant's costs.

Forbes comment

The evidence of the claimant's significant claims history and the posts on social media sites were sufficient to persuade the judge on the balance of probabilities that the claimant had been fundamentally dishonesty, that the protection offered to the claimant by qualified one way costs shifting should be overturned and to award costs to the defendant.

For more information, please contact Chris Booth by email or call 0161 918 0000.

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