The devil is in the detail: Another dishonest claimant sees his large credit hire claim dismissed at trial

Goldy Singh v Transportes Paulo Duartes Espana

Executive summary

Proceedings arising out of a minor non-fault road traffic collision came unstuck when the claimant presented a large, and dishonest, credit hire claim.

The facts

On 20 December 2011, Goldy Singh and his sister were passengers in an Audi A3, driven by his mother, when the defendant’s driver collided into them. Mr Singh pursued a claim for personal injury, the pre-accident value (PAV) of the Audi and credit hire to the tune of £105,000, incurred with Direct Accident Management (DAMs).

Breach of duty was admitted, but the defendant and its UK claims handlers, Coris UK, were concerned by the credit hire claim.

Mr Singh contended that he was impecunious and disclosed statements from five bank and credit card accounts. In his witness statement, he contended that he required a vehicle, which he used ‘for all intents and purposes’ as his own.

The defendant asked Mr Singh, in a Part 18 request, whether he owned or was insured to drive any vehicles during the hire period and he claimed he could not remember. However, a single entry in his bank statements led the defendant on a trail of investigation which revealed that for almost the entirety of the hire, Mr Singh was insured to drive a high performance Audi RS4, bearing the private plate ‘G8LDY’. Those enquiries also revealed that Mr Singh had at least one bank and credit card account which he had not disclosed to the defendant.

The defendant applied to amend its defence to advance allegations of fraud and contempt against Mr Singh. That application was allowed.

In response to the amended defence, Mr Singh claimed that the Audi RS4 was his mother’s car. The undisclosed bank and credit card accounts, he said, were accounts held in his name on trust for his parents.

Mr Singh was subsequently ordered to effect standard disclosure again and he disclosed a further 13 bank and credit card accounts in his name. He also disclosed a letter from the insurers relating to a policy he held in his name in respect of the accident damaged Audi A3, which showed that, in June 2012, he put another Audi A3, which investigations showed that his mother had just bought on finance, onto that policy.

Judgment

At trial, the judge described Mr Singh as a ‘deeply unimpressive’ witness, whose approach to the litigation process and answers at trial was ‘evasive’. The judge went on to make a series of findings against Mr Singh, which included the following:-

  • Mr Singh deliberately withheld evidence as to his financial position;
  • It ‘beggared belief’ that Mr Singh had forgotten that he was insured to drive the Audi RS4;
  • His mother was the owner of the Audi A3 that was involved in the accident (and its replacement) and Mr Singh was the owner of the Audi RS4. He had no standing to bring the claim for the PAV of the Audi A3 or for hire and, in any event, he did not need to hire;
  • Mr Singh made up evidence as regards his claim for personal injury as he went along;
  • Given a number of inconsistencies arising out of the medical report and medical records, together with the absence of claims from Mr Singh’s sister and mother, his personal injury claim was not proven.

The claim was dismissed in its entirety and Mr Singh was ordered to repay the PAV interim payment. He was also ordered to pay the defendant’s costs on the indemnity basis.

Comment

This is another case in which a claimant’s claim faltered as a result, principally, of the presentation of a dishonest credit hire claim.

Insurers should not accept all credit hire claims at face value. Some credit hire organisations and their solicitors will say that their clients have no choice but to hire until they receive an interim payment in respect of their damaged vehicles. However, with robust and detailed investigations, those claims can often be unpicked.

It is important to pay close scrutiny to the evidence provided, and to be on the look-out for evidence likely not provided, such as undisclosed bank accounts, by claimants. As this case shows, the devil really is in the detail as Mr Singh’s undoing was sparked by a single entry in one of his bank statements.

Weightmans are the credit hire fraud specialists. If you would like to discuss your counter fraud strategy or for any further information regarding any aspect of the issues raised in this case, please contact; Jeff Turton, Principal Associate on 0151 242 6968 or email jeff.turton@weightmans.com or Charlie Williams, Partner on 0151 242 7961 or email charles.williams@weightmans.com)

Share on Twitter