21st July 2016
Edward Hutchin, instructed by Andrew Thomson of DAC Beachcrofts on behalf of Allianz insurance, successfully represented the insured company in this case, in which orders for committal for contempt of court were made against 4 dishonest claimants, who were sentenced to 6 months imprisonment each.
All 4 claimants made claims for compensation following a road traffic collision. A defence was filed alleging that the collision was deliberately induced. Following a trial in Nottingham County Court in 2015, HHJ Godsmark QC dismissed the claims, finding that the claims formed part of a fraud ring involved in arranging false road traffic collision claims. The claims were dismissed, with indemnity costs in favour of the Defendant.
The insured, in conjunction with its insurers, was not content to let the matter rest there. An application was therefore made against all 4 claimants for their committal for contempt of court. In particular it was alleged that they had all dishonestly stated that 1 of the claimants was present at the time of the collision, and that the witness evidence of the insured that he was a bogus passenger was supported by photographs taken at the scene which showed another unidentified individual in the car. The claimants opposed the application, and challenged the authenticity of the photographic evidence.
After a 2 day hearing in Nottingham District Registry, at which all 4 of the original claimants gave evidence, and the court considered expert computing evidence obtained by both parties, HHJ Godsmark QC, sitting as a High Court Judge, found all 4 litigants guilty of contempt of court. Although they advanced mitigation including ill health and the advanced pregnancy of 1 of the participants, the Judge held that only an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate, and sentenced each of them to 6 months imprisonment.