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In the recent case of Hughes, Kindon and Jones v KGM heard on 1st April 2016 , two of the Claimants (Hughes and Kindon) were found to have been fundamentally dishonest in part of their personal injury claim. Their claims were therefore dismissed and they were ordered to pay the Defendant’s (KGM’s) legal costs of £6,100.00.
This is considered to be the first case under Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (CJCA) to have found that Claimants have exaggerated part of their claim and therefore be ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs in defending the claim. Under Section 57 (CJCA), if a Claimant is successful in their claim for personal injuries and would have been awarded money in respect of their injuries and/or financial losses but are found by a Court to have been fundamentally dishonest in any part of the claim, then the Judge must dismiss the entire claim unless doing so would cause the Claimant a substantial injustice. Fundamental dishonesty can be found even if the claim is genuine but where part of the claim is dishonest or exaggerated. For example the Claimant may have suffered injuries at the fault of the Defendant, however if they have exaggerated the extent of their injuries then they may be considered to have been fundamentally dishonest.
If part of the claim is found to be fundamentally dishonest at trial then the Defendant is able to apply for their costs incurred in defending the claim. This means that the Claimant may be required to pay a substantial amount of money to the Defendant due to providing misleading information or exaggerating the facts in the claim. However, the costs that the Claimant is ordered to pay to the Defendant will be reduced by any sum that the Claimant would have been awarded by the Court for injuries and losses had part of the claim not be found to be dishonest.
In Hughes, Kindon and Jones v KGM heard at Taunton County Court, the three Claimants were claiming compensation for injuries lasting 12 months. At trial a number of concerns were raised by the Defendant’s representative, Horwich Farelly, in relation to the Claimants’ evidence such as the nature of the injuries and failure to seek medical attention. Jones’ claim was dismissed due to not providing witness evidence. Deputy District Judge Eaton-Hart held that Hughes and Kindon’s injuries would have only lasted for a period of two weeks rather than the claimed 12 months. DDJ Eaton-Hart therefore initially awarded the two Claimants £750.00 each in respect of a two week injury.
The Defendant’s representatives argued that the claims of Hughes and Kindon were fundamentally dishonest under Section 57 CJCA as it was believed that the injuries had been exaggerated. Six weeks after the accident the Claimants stated in a medical examination that their injuries were ongoing. As DDJ Eaton-Hart had considered the injuries would not have lasted for longer than two weeks it was suggested that the Claimants had lied in the examination. DDJ Eaton-Hart accepted this and the claims were found to be fundamentally dishonest due to the Claimants having deliberately misled the medical expert for the purposes of financial gain. It was considered that this decision would not cause the Claimants to suffer a substantial injustice.
As a result of the finding of fundamental dishonesty, the claims were struck out in their entirety. The Claimants were ordered to pay £6,100.00 in respect of the Defendant’s costs and they were refused the ability to appeal the decision.
The finding of fundamental dishonesty in this case stresses the importance of Claimants having an honest belief in their claim and not exaggerating any part, no matter how small, to attempt to recover a higher award. It is possible that by doing so the claim would be jeopardised and result in the Claimant being in a worse off position.