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Edward Hutchin, instructed by Charles Clayton of Clyde & Co on behalf of Aviva, represented the successful insurers in the committal proceedings against a claimant after he discontinued his claim.
The Claimant made claims for personal injuries and credit hire charges of almost £75,000, but discontinued after disclosure of CCTV footage contradicting his account, and evidence showing that his credit hire claim was false. Edward appeared at the subsequent fundamental dishonesty hearing, which confirmed that a fundamental dishonesty finding was appropriate even after discontinuance.
Edward then represented the insurers in committal proceedings in the High Court. At a hearing before Sarah Crowther KC sitting as a judge of the High Court, permission was granted to bring committal proceedings for contempt of court. The judgment covered important issues relating to delay, warnings and public interest in committal applications. The judge found that despite delays in issuing committal proceedings, the importance and seriousness of the alleged falsehoods supported the public interest in granting permission to proceed with contempt proceedings.
Edward also appeared at the final committal hearing before HHJ Wall sitting as a judge of the High Court. The claimant admitted the contempt charges and advanced mitigation. After taking this into account, the judge imposed a sentence of 7 months imprisonment, to run concurrently on each count. The judge challenged the perception that insurance companies were ‘fair targets’ for false claims, or that insurance fraud was ‘victimless’, commenting that when insurance companies are deceived, there were widespread consequences for policyholders, other claimants, and the court process, which depended on openness, transparency and honesty: appropriate punishment could only be achieved by a sentence of immediate imprisonment.