It is fair to say that most of us would not consider ourselves to be ‘fundamentally dishonest’ but what does it actually mean and why does it matter?
Recent changes in the rules that affect personal injury practice mean that if a Claimant is found to have been fundamentally dishonest in relation to any aspect of their case then their entire claim can be dismissed and they can become liable for the other party’s costs.
Needless to say this is a change that has been seized upon by the insurers, not least because of the lack of clarity over what will be considered fundamental dishonesty.
Fraud or dishonesty?
Fundamental dishonesty is not defined in any statute, explanatory notes, the Civil Procedure Rules or any practice direction.
Traditionally the standard was always one of fraud but the new rules are enabling judges to set a lower threshold for fundamental dishonesty than they would for fraud.
The most likely area for dispute is medical evidence. The suggestion that someone suffered a little less than the evidence suggests or exaggeration of a care claim where a care givers evidence does not align with that of the Claimant under cross-examination.
Often claims can take many months, even years and memories fade and records are mislaid so it is essential for any potential Claimant to instruct a solicitor early to guide them through the claim and ensure that they keep a proper and detailed record of their injury and losses. Failure to do so could be catastrophic.
Personal injury compensation claims have been turbulent over the years with successive governments trying to curb the media-touted increase in low-value claims. A host of measures have been introduced over the years, intended to curb the cost of compensation claims. Fixed costs, the abolition of referral fees, the inability to recover insurance premiums or success fees from losing defendants, various costs protection and budgeting schemes, the increase in court fees, and now ‘fundamental dishonesty’. There is also the recently announced intention to increase the small claims limit to £5,000 and remove the right to compensation completely for soft-tissue minor whiplash injuries.
Dawid Masel v Esure
On 21st April 2016 one the first fundamentally dishonesty cases was heard.
The claimant had said that he had been injured for a total of four months following a minor car accident. Esure, who insured the defendant’s vehicle uncovered a publicly-available video on YouTube in which the claimant took part in, and won, a ‘Total Full Contact’ kickboxing fight within a month of the accident date. The Judge watched all six rounds of the contest, during which she commented that the claimant looked “a picture of health”. The Claimant’s claim was dismissed following the defendant’s argument that the claim was fundamentally dishonest. The claimant was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs.
If you have been involved in an accident or suffered at the hands of medical professional we urge you to seek early legal advice.
At Davey Law we have decades of experience in personal injury and clinical negligence claims. We can guide you through the process and help you to keep accurate records of your losses and details of your recovery.
Contact our serious injury experts on 01285 654875 for further information.
 13th April 2015
 under Section 57 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.