07 December, 2017
Advantage Insurance Ltd v Christopher Ewere (2017)QBD (Slade J) 16/11/2017
A person who falsely claimed to have been in a parked car when it was struck by another has been found in contempt of court.
The defendant, Mr Ewere, brought a personal injury claim against the driver who bumped into his parked car. The driver contended that she had reversed into the defendant's car, but that nobody had been in it. She went to a nearby house and spoke to two sisters, whom she knew. She asked them who the parked car's owner was and was directed to the defendant's house. Mr Ewere answered the door whilst getting dressed and they went to look at his car.
The defendant subsequently alleged that he had in fact been in the parked car when it was struck. He alleged that he and the driver had spoken, he had returned to his house, and later she knocked on his door and they returned to look at his car. At that point they exchanged names and particulars.
The defendant told the medico-legal assessor that after the collision he had suffered neck and shoulder pain. In his particulars of claim, the defendant stated that he had been in the car and that he had been injured. Those claims were repeated in two witness statements. At trial his claim was dismissed with the Judge concluding on the balance of probabilities that he had not been in the car.
The driver's insurance company, Advantage Insurance alleged that the particulars of claim and witness statements contained nine false statements. The Court found that beyond all reasonable doubt the defendant had not been in the car at the time of the accident. The Court then considered whether contempt of court had been proved. The claimant had to show that the defendant had had no honest belief in the truth of his statements, that they were likely to interfere with the course of justice, and that he had so known. Each of the grounds of contempt was made out, and Mr Ewere was found in contempt of court.
This is yet another example of a fraudulent personal injury claimant being held for contempt of court. It is encouraging to note that even though this was a relatively low value claim, the insurance company still pursued the defendant. Such cases will hopefully serve as a reminder to claimants that dishonest personal injury claims may result in a criminal sanctions.