The High Court has refused to overturn a personal injury ruling despite defendant lawyers arguing that the judge should have found the claim to be ’fundamentally dishonest’.
In Wright v Satellite Information Services Ltd, Mrs Justice Yip DBE said the original judge had been entitled to find that the claimant should receive compensation following a work accident, and the victim’s case was not fatally harmed by an exaggerated claim for care costs.
The case is one of the first reported examples of a defendant failing with a pleaded defence of fundamental dishonesty since legislation was introduced to allow claims to be thrown out entirely.
His Honour Judge Pearce had awarded the claimant around £119,000 in damages following a three-day trial in December, with the defendant ordered to pay 75% of the claimant’s costs.
Liability had been admitted but during arguments around quantum the defendant had produced video evidence that the claimant was less disabled than he purported and had deliberately exaggerated his initial £350,000 claim.
The claim for future care had been pleaded in excess of £73,000 but Pearce allowed just £2,100, finding no trueneed for continuing care. The court heard Pearce that had found elements of the presentation of the case to be ‘overtstated’, in particular the claim for care.
The court also heard the claimant had signed a statement of truth stating his care requirements but later admitted in cross-examination that he had no ongoing need for care.
But Yip suggested the defendant lacked ‘detailed analysis’ of the way the claim had been presented and cited that lawyers resorted to emotional language, albeit unintentionally. The care claim was largely based on an expert report, Yip said, and the claimant had been ‘broadly consistent’ in what he had said in relation to any need for ongoing assistance.
‘The reason for the judge’s rejection of this element of the claim was not that he found the claimant’s evidence to be untruthful, but rather that a proper interpretation of that evidence did not support the assessment of the care expert,’ said Yip. She added that the appeal amounted to an ‘impermissible attempt’ to overturn a decision when the defendant did not agree. The appeal was dismissed.
The claimant/respondent was represented by Michael Nicholson, instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP. Catherine Foster, instructed by Clyde & Co LLP, appeared the defendant/appellant.