Basic dishonesty found in any part of a personal injury claim could scupper an entire case, under new legislation due to come into force in January 2015.
Parliament is currently reviewing the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which include new sections setting out how future personal injury claims will be defeated at a hearing if any “fundamental dishonesty” can be shown.
In the first new item of legislation, a court will now be able to dismiss the “whole of a personal injury claim” if it is satisfied that the claimant was highly likely to have been fundamentally dishonest in either the “primary claim” or a “related claim - connected to any part of the claim.”
In the second section, it is clearly indicated that the court can throw out any part of the primary claim if the claimant has been found to be dishonest at any point.
Where the court may be asked to consider awarding future “special damages”, an entire case - including the “general damages” part of the claim - can also be dropped if a fundamental dishonesty is discovered.
Where basic dishonesty is shown to be the basis for “exaggerated symptoms” – very well known in a number of previously reported fraudulent whiplash claims - the whole claim will be dismissed, including for example, the claim for a written-off vehicle caused by the other party’s negligence.
Dismissal of a claim is compulsory unless the court is satisfied “that the claimant would suffer substantial injustice if the claim was to be dismissed” and could, instead, reduce or eliminate damages.
The court must also record the amount of damages it would otherwise have awarded and any court order for costs made against the claimant must take into account the predetermined damages. The claimant would then pay the balance of damages to the defendant.
The new additions to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill applies to fixed recoverable costs cases as well as all other personal injury cases.