Members who carryout insurance fraud investigative services will be interested in the recent High Court judgment in Woodger v Hallas.
The Claimant in that personal injury claim was found to have been dishonest in his loss of earnings claim. Liability was conceded but the insurers for the Defendant had caught the Claimant on camera moving relatively freely at work and being paid by at least one employer.
The County Court had rejected the £500,000 claim but decided the Claimant should still receive around £49,000 compensation in spite of his fundamental dishonesty. The Court had indicated that the Claimant would suffer ‘substantial injustice’ if he missed out on some of the claim.
However, the High Court judge, on appeal, found there was no proper or adequate basis for the County Court decision. 'In every case where the court goes on to find fundamental dishonesty ex hypothesi the Claimant will stand to lose their genuine damages,’ the High Court judge said. He continued: ‘Substantial injustice must mean something more than the claimant losing their genuine damages.’
The Claimant had been injured in a road accident in Derby in 2014. He suffered lasting injuries, which he claimed affected his work as a mechanic. He claimed general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, as well as for past and future loss of earnings.
The appeal judge said that even if there was some injustice to the Claimant, the sustained nature of his dishonesty and involvement of others all made his dishonesty so serious that it would have outweighed any injustice to him. He ruled that the County Court should have dismissed the entire claim and awarded the Defendant its costs of the action.