What is “fundamental dishonesty” in Personal Injury Claims?
Since April 2013 losing Claimants in personal injury claims have enjoyed the benefit of something called “Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting” (QOCS), a rule that means they are not liable to pay a Defendant’s costs in the usual way.
An exception to this is if the claim is found to be “fundamentally dishonest”. The definition of fundamental dishonesty has been untested, but a recent County Court judgement has offered some clarification.
The Claimant in the case of Gosling v Screwfix, although proving that he had suffered injury in an accident due to the Defendant’s negligence, was found to have significantly and deliberately exaggerated the extent of his on-going symptoms, thereby inflating the value of his claim by 50%. This deception was found to be fundamental not just incidental, and satisfied the “fundamental dishonesty” test. The Claimant therefore lost the protection afforded by QOCS and was ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs of the whole claim.
This must be a warning to Claimants (and their legal representatives) that the Courts will not tolerate deception and will not hide behind the provisions of QOCS, and that any blatant attempt to misrepresent even a part of a claim could rebound on them in spectacular fashion.
Article by Nick Hind, Associate Solicitor in the personal injury department of Bennett Griffin LLP.