Egner v Hastings Insurance
Tim Sharpe (instructed by Miles Cowan of Horwich Farrelly) represented Hastings Insurance on a committal application on 9th August 2017.
In summary, Mr Egner’s van was damaged by a driver insured by Hastings, as a result of which that individual was prosecuted for criminal damage. Mr Egner later presented a claim to Hastings for back injuries allegedly sustained by him in that incident. His claim was set out in various documents bearing statements of truth.
Hastings contended that the claim was dishonest and relied on statements that Mr Egner had provided to the police in connection with the prosecution of the insured driver, confirming he had witnessed the criminal damage take place from the pavement. The county court claim was later struck out.
The Claimant admitted contempt and the court committed him to an immediate term of 8 weeks in prison, reduced from 12 weeks to reflect his admission.
HHJ Moloney QC noted that dishonest but low value “whiplash” claims cost the insurance industry immense legal costs and that the public pays more in premiums. The court noted that the background to the claim (a cold call) was typical of the problem, and precisely the type of case to which the policy explained by Moses LJ in South Wales Fire & Rescue v Smith  EWHC 1749 (Admin) applies, namely that those who make such false claims should expect to go to prison and that there is no other way to underline the gravity of such conduct, or to deter those tempted to make such claims.