BLM, the UK and Ireland’s leading risk and insurance law business, has successfully defended Isle of Anglesey County Council after Peter Sutton, paralegal, was able to prove a highways personal injury claim was ‘fundamentally dishonest’.
The claimant stated she had sustained injuries after tripping on a missing paving block. Photographs of the alleged missing block taken by the claimant showed that it was absent in one image, but back in its correct place in another image.
The claimant had stated in evidence that these photographs were taken at the same time but was unable to explain in court how the “missing” block came to have been removed. District Judge Owens was not satisfied that the block was missing at the time of the accident, and the claim was dismissed.
Rules regarding personal injury claims hold that defendants are not able to recover their costs despite successfully defending a claim. However, as BLM were able to prove that the claim was fundamentally dishonest, the claimant was ordered to pay the defendant costs upwards of £6,000.
Dan Thomas, partner at BLM and an expert in casualty fraud, commented: “Local authorities lose a lot of time and money when defending fraudulent claims, money that could be put to better use by investing in public services and maintaining highways. It is therefore especially important that defendants are allowed the chance to recover costs of defending a claim in court.”
“Courts are prepared to assess any claim brought against a local authority, and will financially hold false claimants to account.”
Recent research showed UK councils have collectively paid out over £100 million in compensation claims since 2013, with a rise in ‘compensation culture’ costing taxpayers.
Thomas added: “Compensation culture is extremely costly for UK local authorities, regardless of whether claims are false or not. Local Authorities, by challenging false claims, can reduce the impact this undoubtedly has on their own resources.”