David Boyle resists application to commit for contempt of court after fraudulent claim by ghost passenger

David Boyle resists application to commit for contempt of court after fraudulent claim by ghost passenger.

David Boyle was instructed on behalf of the Claimant, a Legal Executive, who along with 4 friends was a passenger in a 7-seat taxi, hit from behind by the Defendant. Claims were advanced on behalf of 6 passengers, rather than 5, the admitted ‘ghost’ being the adult son of one of the legitimate passengers. The Claimant certified both in the Portal and in CPR18s that Gibson was present in the rear row of seats in the vehicle, and the insurer, which had previously paid out on the ‘ghost’ claim, counterclaimed against the Defendant and issued a Part 20 claim against Gibson.

The Claimant had repaid all sums claimed (to include monies which, unbeknownst to him, Mr Gibson’s father had already repaid to the insurer on his son’s behalf). The insurer sought to commit Mr Robinson (but not Mr Gibson) for contempt of court. 

The Claimant’s case was that the whole group, including Mr Gibson and his father, were on a weekend away in the Lake District and that they’d all been drinking in the pub since noon. They had decided to travel to Ambleside to go to a different pub, and the accident had occurred during that journey. There were photographs showing them all in Ambleside later that evening. The Claimant was unaware that Mr Gibson Jr had, in fact, met up with his then girlfriend at the first pub, and had travelled to Ambleside with her in the same line of traffic as the taxi itself, and that in his inebriated condition, he had been unaware that James Gibson was not in the vehicle. He himself had been in the middle row of seats, with the empty seat directly behind him. 

The Defendant initially sought permission to commit for contempt on the basis that the Claimant knew that the statements of truth that he had signed were untrue and then added the alternative ground that the Claimant had been reckless in that regard. Following Norman v Adler [2023] EWCA Civ 785, the latter allegation was withdrawn. 

HHJ Cawson KC, sitting as a Judge of the High Court concluded that the Defendant had not proven that the Claimant knew the statements to be false and dismissed the application. 

The full judgment is available here: [2024] EWHC 798 (KB) 

Note: David Boyle works for both Claimants and Defendants and is a highly experienced member of our Civil and Insurance Fraud and Committals and Private Prosecutions teams, where he is clerked by Anthony Flannigan.


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