In the on-going fight against fraud and exaggerated claims in particular, HF and AXA have secured a victory against not only the claimant but the solicitors acting on their behalf.

In a rare judgement, QC Law were ordered to pay approximately half of the costs payable by a claimant whose injury claim was found to be fundamentally dishonest. They were also ordered to pay a similar sum (over £2,000) in costs of the application, having contested that they should be ordered to contribute to the defendant’s costs of the case.

The case forms part of a worrying trend where low value road traffic accident claims are layered to increase damages and costs. The incidence of alleged psychological injuries in particular is seeing a sharp rise. In this case, the claim for PTSD was significantly undermined by the claimant’s medical history documented within his medical notes. Notwithstanding that, his solicitors failed to provide the medical experts with those complete, up to date and relevant medical records to seek opinion on the impact they would have on the original prognosis.

In what should be a warning to both claimants and even more crucially, their solicitors, the judge found that the psychological aspect, of what was otherwise an honest claim for whiplash, was fundamentally dishonest. As a result, the claim was dismissed. Following an application for wasted costs the claimant’s solicitors were ordered to be jointly and severally liable for over half the defendant’s costs of defending the dishonest claim. The solicitors were also ordered to pay the defendant’s costs of the wasted costs application itself!

Jared Mallinson, Partner & Head of Counter Fraud at HF said, “This case really pushes home the point that claimants who dishonestly exaggerate their claims can expect to walk away with nothing except the need to pay the insurers’ costs.

Even more importantly, claimants’ solicitors are not immune from cost penalties pursuant to the Senior Courts Act 1981 and CPR part 46.8, should they fail in their duty, in this instance to provide experts with such documentation (for which there was an order for disclosure) which may alter their opinions.”

Dean Witherington, Retail Claims Director of AXA added, “We make it a priority to pursue fraudulent claims in order to protect our honest customers. We hope that our approach acts as a warning to others who might think that exaggerating their claim will not have consequences and shows the importance of investigation and expertise in fighting fraud.