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Marcus Grant appeared for UK Insurance in bringing tort of deceit and committal proceedings arising out of a staged car crash that went to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Gentry claimed that his Range Rover was written off in a road accident with UKI’s insured, Mr Miller. UKI admitted liability on Mr Miller’s behalf, made an interim payment of £14,000 for the pre-accident value of Mr Gentry’s Range Rover. Mr Gentry, represented by Armstrong’s Solicitors, issued and served proceedings on Mr Miller for general damages and £56,540 worth of credit hire charges, and secured a default judgment, which he sought to enforce against UKI.
Late in the day, UKI discovered that Mr Gentry and Mr Miller were known to each other, and applied 2 months late to set aside the default judgment. A District Judge allowed the application. Mr Gentry appealed to a Circuit Judge who dismissed his appeal. Mr Gentry appealed again to the Court of Appeal and won  EWCA Civ 141, obtaining an order that UKI be bound by the default judgment and pay the costs of the action. On application by UKI, that Order was stayed pending the outcome of tort of deceit proceedings that were then issued and served.
The deceit action commenced in March 2016, asserting that the alleged accident was staged and the entire claim was predicated on a deceit. Also, UKI alleged contempt of Court against Mr Gentry pursuant to CPR 32.14 and 81.17(1)(a). Mr Gentry admitted the contempt on the limited basis that he lied about not knowing Mr Miller before the accident; however, he contested the deceit claim alleging that there was a genuine accident caused by Mr Miller’s negligence. After a two-day trial on the deceit claim, Teare J found that the deceit proved to the requisite standard of proof, and found that the alleged accident was staged, and that Mr Gentry had conspired with two others to deceive UKI.
Teare J set aside all the costs orders in Mr Gentry’s favour made by the Court of Appeal, ordering him to repay the sums paid to him by UKI and to pay UKI’s costs of the earlier proceedings and of the tort of deceit and committal actions on an indemnity basis. He sentenced Mr Gentry to 9 months’ imprisonment, which he suspended for 2 years on condition that he repay £1,250 pm towards the sums owed to UKI. Teare J relied on the early admission of the contempt, and on Mr Gentry’s previous good character and the specific hardship that would be experienced by people around him if he were to be imprisoned, in deciding to suspend the sentence on terms.
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