Prison sentence for man found in contempt of court following exaggerated claim

James Lee Mitchell (55) was sentenced on 24 July 2018 following a case brought by national law firm Weightmans on behalf of Circle Anglia Limited (now…

A Cambridgeshire man was sentenced to four months in prison after making a fictional loss of earnings claim worth thousands of pounds, following an alleged injury outside his home.

James Lee Mitchell (55) was sentenced on 24 July 2018 following a case brought by national law firm Weightmans on behalf of Circle Anglia Limited (now known as Clarion Housing Group) and their insurers, Zurich.

Mr Mitchell originally claimed for personal injury and a loss of earnings of almost £16,000 after he tripped over an uneven paving slab outside the home he rented from Clarion Housing. He alleged that he had received a job offer which he was unable to accept due to his injuries, although further investigation revealed he had not worked for at least eight years prior to the accident due to a number of unconnected medical issues. The alleged job offer which formed the basis of the loss of earnings claim had come via a business connected to his brother.

Weightmans successfully secured a finding of fundamental dishonesty and a consequential order for costs, before then making an application to the High Court to bring proceedings for contempt against Mr Mitchell. At the committal hearing in June 2018 the firm established 21 counts of contempt of court against Mr Mitchell who was found to have entirely invented a loss of earnings claim.

At the hearing on 24 July 2018, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb observed that the making of false statements signed with a statement of truth was an extremely serious matter which caused great difficulty and threatened the course of justice, going on to say such behaviour must be identified and punished. 

Suzanne Milne, Partner and Head of Casualty Fraud at Weightmans said:

"This was a matter that Clarion and its insurers pursued because of the wider public interest in deterring fraudulent claims and the desire to deal with these claims in a robust manner.
"Mr Mitchell intentionally lied about the losses he allegedly incurred with the intention of securing a higher award of compensation than he was genuinely entitled to, and then lied further in an attempt to maintain the deception. We hope this outcome sends a message to those considering making similar claims in the future."

Commenting on the judgement, Head of Claims Investigations at Zurich Scott Clayton, said:

"It is such a shame that some people seek personal gain and profit by being dishonest. Perhaps Mr Mitchell believed that making an exaggerated claim against the housing association had no downside – but unfortunately for him he was wrong. It doesn’t matter whether fraudulent activity is against an individual, a company, or the public sector – we will always fight fraud where we see it, and continue our efforts to discourage people from thinking they can make a quick buck by making something up."

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