BREAKING NEWS: Court of Appeal reviews fundamental dishonesty meaning for first time since Jackson reforms

In the first case to consider the meaning of fundamental dishonesty following the reforms of Lord Justice Jackson, a legal team at national law firm…

In the first case to consider the meaning of fundamental dishonesty following the reforms of Lord Justice Jackson, a legal team at national law firm Weightmans have successfully represented Ageas in the Court of Appeal, finding a claimant’s complaint fundamentally dishonest following a road traffic accident.

Lorna and Justin Howlett brought a claim for damages following a minor road traffic accident. Ageas, as the insurer of the first defendant, had concerns as to the validity of the claims and worked with a team at Weightmans to investigate the suspected fraud.

At trial, and after four days of evidence, the Deputy District Judge concluded that “…there is not one part of the story as explained to me by Mr and Mrs Howlett that gives me any confidence that the accident as described by them and Ms Davies on 27 March 2013 happened as described or at all…”

In dismissing the claims, the Deputy District Judge found the claims to have been ‘fundamentally dishonest’. A subsequent appeal failed. The Court of Appeal has also rejected the appeal of Mrs Howlett, ruling that the interpretation of fundamental dishonesty as previously provided by His Honour Judge Moloney QC in the case of Gosling v Hailo was common sense, and an insurer need not specifically allege  fundamental dishonesty for a trial judge to make such finding.

James Langdown, Counter Fraud Manager of Ageas commented:

“Dishonest claimants already affect society at large by causing increased premiums for motor insurance. Ageas will continue to lead the fight against dishonest claimants.”

Iain Davison, Partner at Weightmans added:

“We are delighted to secure the outcome for our client, and for other insurers in future cases. The Court of Appeal’s ruling affirms that trial judges can make findings of fundamental dishonesty even when that expression has not been specifically pleaded by the defendant. As such, the case will hopefully end any speculation as to what is required of an insurer when defending claims which are potentially dishonest.”

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