Mr Paul Johnson v (1) Mr Joseph Qainoo (2) CIS General Insurance Limited
An accident took place on 1st September 2012 when the 1st defendant opened a car door and knocked the claimant from his bicycle. The claimant brought a claim for personal injury and associated losses including a claim for loss of earnings pleaded in the sum of £85,000.00.
By his Particulars of Claim, the claimant said that his injuries affected his work as an IT engineer and he disclosed a contract claiming he had not been able to fulfil the same as a result of the accident.
Plexus Law Limited (‘Plexus’), on behalf of both defendants contended in the defence that the claim was “fundamentally dishonest” and submitted that the contract disclosed in support of the £85,000 claim was a fabrication; it had been crudely adapted from a contract between two Chinese companies that had been found on the internet following a simple Google search.
In addition, the contract disclosed had a number of features which caused Plexus to question its authenticity.
The claimant provided a copy of a further contract, this time between his company and a company called IWebistics, dated 1 September 2012 (the date of the accident). This contract was also purported to be for £85,000 but its authenticity was also called into question; it was signed before IWebistics was incorporated.
When faced with this information in the Defence, the claimant discontinued his claim for loss of earnings but an application was made to Court for a finding that the entire matter, including the injury claim, be dismissed pursuant to s57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.
The claimant was ordered to provide a number of documents to prove his assertions that he was a qualified I.T engineer. Only limited documentation was provided and Plexus were able to disprove much of the content (such as the claimant’s attendance at the University of York).
The matter came before District Judge Bishop sitting at the Croydon County Court on 29 and 30 June 2017.
Claimant’s counsel at the hearing submitted that the claimant would suffer “substantial injustice” if his entire claim was dismissed; the Judge rejected this submission.
Having heard evidence from the claimant over a full day the Judge concluded that the claimant was ‘overwhelmingly dishonest’ and, in dismissing the case in full, found that he had lied to the Court in written evidence, committed perjury and had fabricated documents to advance a fraudulent claim.
The case was duly dismissed with costs being awarded to the defendants on an indemnity basis.
Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which came into force on the 13 April 2015, imposes a duty on the court to dismiss a claimant’s case (save where the claimant is likely to suffer substantial injustice) where it is satisfied that a claimant has been fundamentally dishonest.
The dismissal of Mr Johnson’s ‘overwhelmingly dishonest’ case, on an interlocutory basis, is welcome news to insurers and defendant practitioners.
Prior to the Act insurers had to weigh up whether to make an offer for what were the ‘genuine’ elements of a claim or proceed to Trial and risk exposure to a potential adverse cost order. This case has demonstrated that the courts are willing to make a finding of “fundamental dishonesty” without the expense of a final hearing through prudent case management and where there is strong evidence of dishonesty in respect of some parts of the claim.
If you would like to find out more about this case, please speak to your contact at Plexus:
Kevin Perkins, Associate Partner
T: 0344 984 4851 | M: 07890 590 187 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Plexus Law | Dean Clough | G1 G Mill | Halifax, HX3 5AX