Matthew Hooper secures finding of ‘fundamental dishonesty'

Matthew Hooper secures finding of Fundamental Dishonesty and dismissal of claim pursuant to s.57 CJCA 2015: French v Advantage Insurance

Mr French brought a claim for damages arising from a road traffic accident that occurred on 7th April 2020. The Defendant admitted liability for the collision but denied causation of injury. The matter came for trial on 25th May 2022 before DDJ Neville sitting in the County Court at Wigan.

The Claimant pursued a claim for general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and a modest special damages claim relating to associated treatment costs. He relied upon a medical report prepared by Dr Zahid Mehmood following an examination of the Claimant on 14th June 2020, just over two months post-accident. Dr Mehmood opined that Mr French had suffered an exacerbation of an underlying condition to his lower back. The medical expert gave an 8-month prognosis for the Claimant to achieve a full recovery.

Within his witness statement, the Claimant stated, ‘Dr Mehmood was of the opinion that I would go back to the level of pain I felt before the accident in my lower back within 8 months of the accident. I believe I recovered from all my accident-related injuries within 8 months of the accident.’

During the course of cross-examination, Mr French admitted that he had in fact achieved a full recovery from his accident-related injuries within 4 months of the accident.

When pressed as to why his statement said otherwise, Mr French sought to contend that his statement was technically correct as he had recovered ‘within 8 months’ and he did not feel it was necessary to correct or expand further upon this issue when preparing his statement.

Within her Judgment, DDJ Neville found that the Claimant’s suggestion that his account was technically correct was him ‘trying to be clever’. She agreed that he had failed to give a candid account of his recovery period and had given no good reason for failing to do so. She considered his evidence that his injuries resolved ‘within 8 months’ was dishonest, and fundamentally so. The dishonesty did not relate to a collateral matter; it went to the root of the claim. Mr French had deliberately sought to pursue compensation for an 8-month injury despite knowing he achieved a full recovery within 4 months and if he had not been cross-examined on the issue, the Claimant would not have corrected this evidence.

Consequently, the claim was dismissed pursuant to section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 and found to be fundamentally dishonest.

DDJ Neville recorded that had the Claimant been awarded recoverable damages, those damages would have been for personal injury and associated treatment costs, assessed in the sum of £2,942. The Claimant was accordingly ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs of the action on an enforceable basis in the sum of £2,053.84 (net of the deduction of £2,942).

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