13th February 2019
Edward Hutchin, instructed by Andrew Thomson of DAC Beachcrofts on behalf of Allianz Insurance, successfully represented the insurers in this case, in which a dishonest Claimant was found guilty of 2 counts of contempt of court.
The Claimant made claims for compensation following a road traffic collision. In the course of the case, the Claimant filed a witness statement asserting that he had previously worked as a personal trainer and regularly trained and competed as a boxer, but that he had been unable to return to boxing for about 4 months following the accident. Following further investigations, online video footage was discovered, showing the Claimant taking part in a competitive boxing bout only about 2 months after the accident. A successful application was made to amend the defence to allege fraud and fundamental dishonesty, and shortly afterwards the Claimant discontinued his claim.
The insurers were not content to let the matter rest, and an application was therefore made to commit the Claimant for contempt of court relating to false statements made in the course of the proceedings. After a High Court hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice, at which the Claimant gave evidence in his defence, HHJ Peter Blair QC, sitting as a High Court Judge, found the Claimant guilty of 2 counts of contempt of court. Having heard mitigation advanced by the Claimant in relation to his means and personal circumstances, the Judge sentenced him to a fine on each count, but commented that it was important that parties knew that lies told in court proceedings would not be countenanced and that an element of deterrence was required.
The case attracted significant national media attention for the insurers attempts to combat fraud.