Defendants allege fundamental dishonesty in personal injury cases where they believe that the Claimant (the person bring the claim) is acting dishonestly or fraudulently in relation to their evidence. The Defendant will ask the Court to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the Claimant has been fundamentally dishonest.

Personal injury claimants usually benefit from protection from the normal costs consquences. This is known as QOCS. If there is a finding of fundamental dishonesty, then it is also likely that QOCS will be disapplied. This means that the Defendant can seek their legal costs against the Claimant.

It is for the Defendant to prove that a Claimant is being fundamentally dishonest. To do this, the Defendant must must show that the dishonesty goes to the root of the whole or a substantial part of the claim.

Below are a couple of examples of cases of where Courts have found Claimants to be fundamentally dishonest.

Paul Johnson -v- (1) Joseph Qainoo (2) CIS General Insurance (2017)

The Claimant (Mr Johnson) claimed damages for loss of earnings of approximately £85,000. The entire value of his claim was £97,000. Mr Johnson had been knocked off his bike when the Defendant (Mr Qainoo) opened his car door as he was cycling past. He suffered facial injuries as a result.

Mr Johnson claimed that as a result of the accident, he had lost eight weeks’ work as a sub-contractor designing a networking platform for a company.

When questioned about the contract he had produced to evidence his loss of earnings, it was found that the contract had been lifted from the internet and was an example contract between two Chinese companies that Mr Johnson had adapted and provided to his solicitors.

To evidence his academic ability, Mr Johnson claimed that he had a degree in Computer Engineering from York University. This was not in fact correct. Mr Johnson had actually received entry level academic qualifications whilst in prison and therefore could not show the Court that he had ever done the level of work he was claiming.

The judge in this case found Mr Johnson to be fundamentally dishonest. Whilst the judge did not dispute that Mr Johnson had suffered a real and painful injury, he concluded that this was irrelevant due to the manner in which Mr Johnson had behaved. This included producing fraudulent documents and lying to the Court under oath.

Adam Caldwell -v- Thomas Cook Tour Operations Ltd

This is an example of a holiday sickness claim where the Claimant (Mr Caldwell) was found to be fundamentally dishonest.

Mr Caldwell claimed that he had eaten undercooked chicken from the hotel buffet and had become extremely unwell on the third day of his holiday. He claimed that as a result of the illness he was confined to his room for a number of days. As a result, he said that he did not manage to report the illness to the tour operator. Mr Caldwell also alleged that his wife had unsuccessfully tried to report his illness to the Thomas Cook hotel representative but no one was ever at the desk.

Additionally, the Defendant (Thomas Cook) produced evidence that Mr Caldwell had filled out a customer satisfaction form on the flight home. Within this form he had unequivocally answered ‘no’ when asked if he had suffered any illness whilst on holiday.

Mr Caldwell was asked about the inconsistency between his evidence and the questionnaire. He said that his 10-year-old son had answered the questions on the form. This was despite the fact that Mr Caldwell admitted to filling in the contact details on the first page.

The judge found Mr Caldwell fundamentally dishonest in bringing his claim. On the evidence presented to the Court, the judge found Mr Caldwell to be a wholly unimpressive witness and did not accept his explanation about his son filling in the questionnaire. The judge did not find that Mr Caldwell had suffered any illness.

As a result, the court dismissed the claim and disapplied QOCS. It also ordered the Claimant to pay the Defendant’s costs of £8,510.90.

Conclusion

Fundamental dishonesty is nothing to be concerned about for genuine Claimants. Your solicitor should advise you about your evidence and the consequences of signing documents that contain a Statement of Truth.

Our personal injury team also acts for defendants. So, if you are defending a personal injury claim (for example, where you are not insured), we can represent you. If you have concerns about the validity of the person claiming against you, we can advise you accordingly. Call us today on 0800 988 7756 for a free initial chat.