Judge a man by the company he keeps…

Article

02 October, 2009

Shaun Hill v Bolton Council (2009)

The Claimant alleged that he had fallen as a result of a defect in the carriageway causing injury to his right wrist and left ankle. Liability was conceded subject to causation and issues of contributory negligence.

Concerns were raised as the Claimant was part of a wider family unit from whom the council had received claims. His son and daughter had each brought unsuccessful claims against the Council, as had his best friend, whose action was successfully defended on causation by Forbes in July 2009, for whom Hill had in fact been a witness.

Forbes Anti Fraud Unit established that Hill had previously worked for an Accident Management Company and had been involved in the referral of his friend's claim referred to above. In evidence however Hill stated that he decided to claim only after he saw an advert in the local Post Office shortly after his alleged accident date.

Further concerns were raised as the Claimant's witness was the daughter of the Accident Management Company agent who took the photographs of the accident location. It was further established that his witness was a former colleague of the Claimant's from his time working as an Accident Management Company agent.

At Trial, District Judge Evans found the Claimant to be evasive and criticised the inconsistencies in his evidence particularly relating to his injuries. The Judge went on to say that 'It is easy for a Claimant in circumstances such as these to come along and say that the Defence has nothing positive to add and, therefore, the Claimant must win. In respect of the law, the burden of proof rests with the Claimant, who must satisfy the Court that the Defendant is liable. It is not a rubber-stamping exercise.'

The claim was dismissed with the claimant paying the defendant's costs.

Comment

The Claimant was found to be an unconvincing witness who had significant links to the claims management industry which he had been reluctant to volunteer. The Court made it very clear that the Claimant must provide credible evidence to satisfy the court of the merits of the claim and that in the absence of this the claim would fail.

For further information please contact Chris Booth. Marsden House, 28 Wellington St (St. Johns), Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 8DA. Tel: 01254 662831 or contact Chris Booth by email.

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