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No relief for dishonest claims

The Jackson reforms are here and recent cases have affirmed that the courts are bound to apply the robust approach to procedural default which was…

Unless you have been living under a rock (or hiding under your desk, as the case may be) for the last 10 months or so, you will know that the Jackson reforms are now here and cases such as Andrew Mitchell MP v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537 and Durrant v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset [2013] EWCA Civ 1624 have affirmed that the courts are, in particular, at applications for relief from sanctions, bound to apply the robust approach to procedural default, which was anticipated by those reforms.  

A quick online search will elicit an enormous number of articles and commentaries from practitioners, scrambling to make sense of, and adapt to, the litigation climate change which now requires courts to ensure priority is given to doing justice in the majority of cases, over individual cases. 

What is perhaps less well reported is how the reforms have been received by claimants suspected of fraud and how those claimants have, or have not, been adapting their approach to litigation to meet the challenges of the reforms. 

There are two cases referred to in the credit hire fraud ‘recent successes’ section of this e-brief. The first is S v V and the second is S v S and they are both cases in which credit hire fraud was suspected. It is clear that in both cases the claimants found themselves in the same quandary. 

In response to the evidence of apparent fraud, they claimed that their problems arose, not as a result of fraud, but as a result of their inability to read English. They then attempted, after the date ordered by the court for exchange of statements, to change their evidence. Now, it may actually be true that they could not read English. It may also be true that the inconsistencies in their evidence flowed from those shortcomings. But that mattered not as, in attempting to address the evidence of apparent fraud, they cornered themselves into making concessions (or claims) that they had, at the least, conducted their cases in inefficient and non-compliant manners, for which there were no good reasons. And once they adopted those positions, they were unable to obtain relief and the writing was on the wall for their dubious claims, which were both stuck out. 

The cases illustrate that parties who rely upon apparent fraudulent misrepresentations in the preparation of their cases (or simply prepare their cases badly, thus giving the impression of fraud) are highly likely, in a post-Jackson world, to become procedurally unstuck, once their apparent lies have been revealed. They also demonstrate that, for insurance fraud practitioners to achieve the best results for their clients, current awareness of civil procedure and associated case law and its application to claims involving suspected fraud, is now more important than ever. 

For further information or advice on credit hire and fraud matters please contact jeff.turton@weightmans.com.