UK & Europe
Clyde & Co has won a significant victory in the Courts using Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act to have an exaggerated injury claim for almost £100,000 discontinued. The claimant was also ordered to pay £13,000 to insurer Aviva because his claim was found to be ‘fundamentally dishonest’.
The case at Brighton County Court in May concluded a lengthy investigation by Clyde & Co into the behaviour of a builder from Carshalton, Surrey who stated that he was unable to work in construction due to injuries sustained in a car accident in 2013. He claimed £98,000 in compensation.
But investigations by Clyde & Co and insurer Aviva found a series of social media posts showing the claimant, Billy Cooper, regularly working at height as a roofer and also enjoying walking and cycling, despite telling medics he was unsteady on his feet.
Presented with this evidence Mr Cooper discontinued his entire claim. But in seeking to recover the cost of fighting the case on behalf of its policyholder, Aviva represented by Clyde & Co continued to pursue Cooper through the Courts for a finding of 'fundamental dishonesty'. Such a ruling means the entire claim can be thrown out – including any legitimate aspects, and the claimant faces paying the costs of the action.
In its final hearing before District Judge Rosaline Henry sitting in Brighton County Court on 31 May, medical experts accepted that there may have been ‘no significant injury’ to Cooper as a result of the 2013 collision. The claim was found to be fundamentally dishonest on the basis of evidence served by Clyde & Co and the claimant was ordered to pay Aviva's costs of defending the claim – more than £13,000.
Damian Rourke, partner at Clyde & Co, said: “Dishonest claims like Mr Cooper’s force up insurance costs for the rest of us and waste the courts’ time. I’m very pleased we’ve been able to stop him. Cooper was forced to abandon his claim because of Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act. What this means for dishonest claimants like him is that if we can prove a substantial part of his claim is untrue, the court can dismiss the whole claim, even if parts of it are genuine. I believe that it has become a lot riskier for people to exaggerate their claims.”
Richard Hiscocks, Director of Casualty Claims, said: “Mr Cooper’s case is like a game of chutes and ladders – he thought he was climbing the ladder to an easy payout while working as a roofer, but he’s found himself in a worse situation than before he made his dishonest claim. Ironically, it was Mr Cooper’s social media posts that sent him tumbling – they read like a diary of his deceit, and it was clear that he needed to be held to account for his actions.
“We're pleased with the final ruling which helps to protect motorists from paying for fraudulent claims. This ruling should send a clear warning shot to would-be fraudsters and opportunists: insurers will not only detect and pursue you through the courts, but if you are found to be fundamentally dishonest like Mr Cooper, instead of an easy payout, you could face paying thousands of pounds for your dishonest actions.”