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Legal Mind Case and Commentary No 16: Fundamental Dishonesty: Honest Claimants Have Nothing to Worry About - Professor Hugh Koch, Dr Jenny Bowe, Dr Rachel Strachan & Dr Samantha Day

21.02.18. Case: London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (in liquidation) v. Sinfield.

A ruling was given that a volunteer injured at the 2012 Olympics was dishonest in exaggerating the costs of gardening help required following the accident. He stated that the fact that the greater part of the claim may have been genuine was ‘neither here nor there’.

The High Court Judge said that the original ‘Judge made no findings capable of supporting a conclusion that if the whole claim was dismissed it would result in substantial injustice’. The original judge in August 2017 said the claimant was ‘muddled, confused and careless’ about the gardening section of the claim but this did ‘not contaminate’ the entire claim. The decision to pay a proportion of costs was overturned and the claim for damages dismissed.

As a post script, the solicitor acting for the insurer Aviva said ‘it is important… to take on those who bring dishonest claims…but honest claimants have nothing to worry about.’

Commentary

Veracity and reliability of evidence in specific aspects of a claim and in its entirety are clearly crucial to a judgment about liability and damages. There is ambiguity or range of decision-making as to whether unreliability or dishonesty in one part of a claim can or should be generalised to the whole claim.

In a previous Legal Mind Case & Commentary (No. 9), we commented on the difficulty a judge had in deciding where to draw the line in cases involving dishonesty (Churchill Case Insurance v. Kelly). This judge had suggested that it was not uncommon to believe a claimant on one issue but not another.

All parties have a responsibility to ensure evidence produced is of the highest possible veracity, reliability and consistency. Both experts and counsel have the responsibility to identify incongruity and untruthfulness in claimants in order to assist the court in deciding upon the overall degree of veracity and its implications for awarding damages or not.

This case is one of several recent cases dealing with dishonesty (Howlett v. Davies; Razcemas v. MOJ). In the latter of these two cases, the High Court Judge noted that “Fundamental dishonesty was made out: the admitted dishonesty was part of the potential success of the claim and the claimant had substantially affected the presentation of his case”.

Authors

Professor Hugh Koch, Dr Jenny Bowe, Dr Rachel Strachan & Dr Samantha Day

Reference

Hyde J (2018) High Court provides guidance on fundamental dishonesty. Law Society Gazette. 22nd January 2018.

This is the sixteenth in a series of Case reports and Commentaries from Professor Koch and colleagues.

Image ©iStockphoto.com/Lya_Cattel

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