03 October, 2018
Hussain v Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council
July 2018 - Manchester CC
The claimant in this matter was found to be 'fundamentally dishonest' following the trial of his claim for personal injury. The judge delivered a no holds barred judgment declaring the claimant to be 'remarkably accident prone', a 'seasoned' claimant and a 'serial perjurer'.
The claimant alleged that he had tripped and fallen into hole as a result of a missing manhole cover whilst walking to his friend's house. He alleged that the street lighting was non-existent and it was pitch black. He described that his right foot and lower leg went to the bottom of the hole, causing him to fall forwards and land on both his forearms.
Following the index accident, the claimant attended his GP and it was recorded in his notes that he 'fell on ditch whilst walking, landed on both knees two days ago.' He told the medical expert for the purposes of the medico legal report that he had fallen into a pothole. The Judge was far satisfied by the inconsistencies, remarking 'a ditch is not the same as a pothole or a missing manhole cover'. Significantly, there was also no mention of an elbow injury during the GP attendance yet the elbow injury was deemed to be the most significant by the medico-legal expert and it was for the alleged elbow injury that the claimant was referred for physiotherapy.
The claimant's medico legal report also provided a selective account of what the judge deemed to be a 'remarkable history of accidents'. The GP records revealed the claimant was a frequent attendee and contained numerous entries relating to accidents at work, RTAs and other accidents. The claimant was cross examined at length about his previous claims, it was estimated that he had suffered at least 10 previous accidents in a 10-year period.
Ultimately, the claimant failed to satisfy the Judge on the balance of probabilities that the accident occurred as alleged. The evidence as to the mechanics of the accident was slim; it was dark when the accident occurred and he did not go back to the scene for around 3 weeks after the accident. He failed to report fully what had happened to either the GP or the expert. In addition, he contradicted his Part 18 responses during his oral evidence. His evidence was confused and whilst the judge said he made an allowance for him being nervous, it would appear he was an experienced claimant.
The Judge concluded 'the claimant is remarkably accident prone. The impression I formed was that he was prepared to say anything at all to assist his claim. I'm afraid I don't believe him'.
In response to the Judgement the defendant made an application seeking a finding of fundamental dishonesty and the disapplication of QOCS. The Judge agreed the application commenting 'The claimant is a serial perjurer who has told me lie after lie after lie whilst floundering for the truth'.
It is rare to see such an emphatic judgment; the Judge was clearly unimpressed at the claimant's antics. The recent case of Howlett v Davies & Anr  EWCA Civ 1696 confirmed that fundamental dishonesty and/or fraud does not need to be positively pleaded in the defence for the Court to make a finding. From the outset of this claim the defendant had concerns about the legitimacy of the claim, but no firm evidence. It was not until the claimant gave his oral evidence that the true extent of the dishonesty became evident. The defendant was therefore able to make an immediate application following the judgment to secure a finding of fundamental dishonesty and the disapplication of QOCS.
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