Claim brought after three years sees claimant found Fundamentally Dishonest and ordered to pay costs of over £11k in trial held by Skype

A taxi driver from Surrey has been left owing Admiral more than £11,000 after a claim for personal injury following a collision with his vehicle was found to be Fundamentally Dishonest. As well as being a superb result – with savings achieved of £9,500 successfully defending the claim – the case is notable as it’s the first trial leading to a finding of Fundamental Dishonest to be held over Skype.

The initial claim made by taxi driver, Adrian Boeta, 29, from Godalming, Surrey, was dismissed in full, with a finding of fundamental dishonesty and an award of costs. The unusual circumstances of the claim plus the eventual trial, held remotely due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, demonstrate our continued zero tolerance policy against fraud.

In December 2015, an Admiral customer collided with the rear of Boeta’s taxi which, in turn, was shunted into the vehicle in front. It was a substantial collision, with both the insured and Boeta’s vehicles deemed total losses.

In a telephone call to Admiral the day after the incident, Boeta stated he had not been injured but, three years later, concerns were raised when he presented a claim for injury and associated losses. On the basis of the call recording, Admiral repudiated the claim but, undeterred, Boeta commenced proceedings at which point Horwich Farrelly were appointed to defend it.

In response to the late reporting point, Boeta stated that he was unaware of the claim process and had in fact only decided to bring it after speaking with other taxi drivers. As to the call recording, he alleged that he had been unsure as to who he was speaking with at the time.

On 1 July 2020, just two days prior to trial and due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the court indicated their intention to hear the matter remotely. Once satisfied that the call could be properly presented and considered in this way, we confirmed we were happy with the trial being heard by this method and also put the court on notice of our intention to seek a finding of fundamental dishonesty against the claimant

The matter proceeded before DJ Murphy in Guildford County Court on 3 July. Under cross examination, the true nature of Boeta’s claim was exposed as wholly disingenuous and an opportunistic attempt to seek unwarranted compensation.

DJ Murphy found that there was a complete absence of any corroborative evidence in support of the alleged injury and to compound that, Boeta’s evidence was riddled with inconsistencies. Clearly, he had not discharged his burden of proof and the claim was duly dismissed. The court also held that the call recording was compelling in establishing that Boeta was under no illusion whatsoever as to the reason for the call and what was being asked of him. His clear and unequivocal denial of injury, together with the significant delay in bringing the claim, was sufficient for the court to find that the claim was fundamentally dishonest. In addition, he was also ordered to pay the defendant’s costs of £11,169.72.

James Boylan, fraud Partner at Horwich Farrelly, said: “This is another first in the counter fraud sector, where we are already industry leaders. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic it is very much business as usual for us as we continue to challenge fraudulent claims at trial, irrespective as to whether they are heard remotely or not. We continue to seek findings of fundamental dishonesty against claimants who fail to discharge their burden of proof. “

Adding that the conventional view might have been that a trial in which causation was denied may not have been suitable to be heard in this manner, Mr Boylan added: “This result demonstrates that, irrespective of the current pandemic, claimants who have pursued disingenuous claims may nevertheless be faced with findings of fundamental dishonesty and substantial adverse costs orders.”

Iain Simmons, Head of Causation at Admiral, said: ‘I am delighted with the outcome of our investigation and the stance we adopted with this case, which has ultimately resulted in defeating what was found to be a disingenuous claim. With the support of Horwich Farrelly, we are sending the message that other dishonest claimants can expect an equally rigorous defence to their claims.”