A taxi driver claim worth £60,000 in artificially exaggerated injury and taxi credit hire charges was dismissed with a finding of fundamental dishonesty.
The finding came after a judgement was handed down last month on 22 July by his Honour Judge Monty QC in dishonest claims made against the First Defendant (who was uninsured) and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau as Second Defendant. This followed a 2 day trial in the County Court at Central London on 5 March and 27 May. The Claimant’s claim included credit hire charges in excess of £26,000.
His Honour Judge Monty QC found that whilst the First Defendant was the sole cause of the accident, the Claimant had been fundamentally dishonest as he had made statements which he knew to be false, and furthermore, had given evidence on oath that was similarly false, and which he knew to be false.
On 14 April 2017 the Claimant was driving his Mercedes Benz V250 taxi in Central London, proceeding through a green light, when it was struck by a vehicle driven by the First Defendant, who had driven through a red light without slowing down.
The Claimant bought a claim for personal injury, vehicle repairs, policy excess and credit hire for 87 days of hire at a daily rate of £288 totalling circa £26,000.
The First Defendant played no part in the proceedings and Second Defendant (as the insurer of last resort pursuant to the Uninsured Drivers Agreement) did not challenge the Claimant’s evidence about the accident itself as it was accepted to have been a genuine collision.
However, the Second Defendant contended that the Claimant was not injured in the accident and that his claim for personal injury was dishonest.
As to the claim for credit hire, the Second Defendant raised issues with duration, need, impecuniosity and rate. The Second Defendant also argued that the repair costs were not recoverable against them in accordance with clause 6(1)(c) of Uninsured Driver's Agreement 2015.
According to DAC Beachcroft, the legal firm representing the defendants, his Honour Judge Monty QC listed numerous concerns in relation to the claim for personal injury which included:
The Claimant’s evidence about not remembering if he had suffered any lower back pain prior to the index accident was untruthful.
There was nothing to suggest that the Claimant injured his back in a prior road traffic accident. His back pain as recorded in the medical notes is said to be chronic and was plainly long-lasting and persistent.
The Claimant said in cross-examination that between 2010 and 2014 he was “almost fit” or “quite fit”, and described himself in this period as having recovered rapidly from earlier problems, but that is simply not borne out by the medical records.
The CNF referred only to whiplash-related injuries, which was quite vague, and said nothing about any injury to the left hand, left hip, back or travel anxiety (all of which the medical expert recorded as immediate).
The police report for the accident records, “Nobody was injured”.
The Claimant said that he was now fully recovered, apart from pain in his left shoulder; but at no point did the Claimant assert that his left shoulder was injured in the accident.
As to other elements of the Claimant’s claim, His Honour Judge Monty QC had even more concerns about the Claimant’s truthfulness in his evidence, which included: -
The Claimant did not report this accident to TFL. The Claimant’s evidence, that he did not know that this was a requirement, was inconsistent with his evidence that he needed to get TFL to inspect the vehicle before it was allowed back on the road, and that was the reason for the hire continuing.
The Claimant said that the hired vehicle was taken away for an MOT during the period of hire, despite the fact that the documentary evidence shows that it had a valid MOT for a further 6 months.
His Honour Judge Monty QC found that whilst the Claimant had established a prima facie claim for damages, as the Claimant was not injured in the accident, the claim for personal injury was fundamentally dishonest and as a result of this the Claimant’s entire claim was dismissed.
The Claimant is now liable to pay the balance of the Second Defendant’s costs (once the genuine elements have been deducted from the costs as assessed or agreed).
His Honour Judge Monty QC chose not to refer the case to the Attorney General given the following mitigating factors:
The cost liability now faced by the Claimant;
There were substantive genuine elements of the claim;
The Claimant had not fabricated documents nor was it some sophisticated fraud;
There was a genuine accident; and
The effect of contempt proceedings on the Claimant’s personal life and business.
DAC Beachcroft are now considering making an Application to the High Court under CPR 81.14.
This claim was defended by Paul Tyler Burke who is a Solicitor in the Birmingham Vehicle Hire Fraud team at DAC Beachcroft. The legal firm were the first law firm to identify the issue of Vehicle Hire and Damage Fraud (as distinct from Vehicle Hire and Damage occurring within personal injury fraud claims) and are still the only law firm to have a, truly, dedicated, Vehicle Hire and Damage Fraud team in the market.