A personal injury claimant has been found fundamentally dishonest without even appearing in court to make her case.
Sitting at Middlesbrough County Court in Wise v Hegarty & Alpha Insurance, His Honour Judge Gargan found no sign of any accident having happened, and accepted telematics evidence to that effect.
The case, links to which can be found here, was notable for arguments being submitted for both the claimant and a defendant being dishonest, and the judge deciding to make a finding even where the claimant did not attend.
The claim had been listed for trial in July and the judge was satisfied the claimant knew about the hearing, having been reminded of it by her then-solicitors before they removed themselves from the record.
When she did not attend, the claim was due to be dismissed and the trial cancelled, but in this case the second defendant, Alpha Insurance, asked the judge to conduct a trial on the issue of fundamental dishonesty.
HHJ Gargan heard submissions that even when notice of discontinuance was served, the court could still direct that issues around fundamental dishonesty be determined. He ruled that an order could still be made when the claimant has simply failed to attend and gave permission to call evidence on the fundamental dishonesty issue.
The judge then heard telematics evidence, taken from a box installed in the at-fault driver’s car, that showed the vehicle was not active at the alleged time of the accident, and indeed was inactive some 2.7 miles from where the accident was supposed to have happened.
There was no recording of any untoward incident involving this vehicle, and no photo evidence of any damage.
The judge found evidence to support the allegation that the accident had been invented, and noted Facebook and other social media links between both drivers. These links added weight to the suggestion from the insurer there had been a fraudulent conspiracy agreed between people who knew each other or had friends in common. Findings of fundamental dishonesty were made against the claimant and first defendant.