A personal injury firm alleged by a recorder to have been ‘elbows deep’ in fraudulent activity has successfully challenged the judgment through judicial review.
Mr Recorder Osborne, sitting in the County Court in Manchester, said Bolton firm MRH Solicitors had shown ‘actual dishonesty’ in its handling of an RTA claim which he dismissed on the grounds the accident was staged.
But the firm went to the High Court to challenge the words of the judgment, arguing it had not been party to proceedings and was not invited to defend itself in court. Even the defendant solicitor in the case agreed that fraud was not part of the defence.
The case had been dismissed after the court heard Mohammed Yousaf’s claim was similar to 10 other collisions in the region in recent months, with MRH Solicitors representing at least one party in each.
Yousaf’s claim had been downgraded from around £28,000 to £8,000 after reductions in car hire and vehicle storage and recovery claims, as well as the removal altogether of a £900 claim for rehabilitation.
In MRH Solicitors Ltd v The County Court Sitting at Manchester & Ors, Mr Justice Nicol, sitting in the High Court Queen’s Bench Division, said he understood why ‘suspicions were aroused’ but that it was not fair to make assertions without the parties involved having had a chance to put their case across.
‘A judge ought to be extremely cautious before making conclusive findings of fraud unless the person concerned has at least had the opportunity to give evidence to rebut the allegations,’ he said.
Nicol said MRH acted swiftly once it became aware of the parts of the oral judgment which had been critical of it. The firm tried, without success, to persuade the recorder to change his judgment.
He added that the recorder was not entitled to make a conclusive finding of dishonesty or fraud against MRH and the firm should be treated as not having such a finding made against it.