Insights

A Brief Guide to Fundamental Dishonesty in Personal Injury Law

Introduction

The notion of being honest insofar as any legal action is concerned is fundamental. In the context of personal injury claims, it is particularly important that as a Claimant you are honest, i.e. telling the truth, about your symptoms and losses. No exaggeration and no embellishments; just the honest truth.

Claimants found guilty of not being honest, or fundamentally dishonest, about any aspect of their symptoms or their consequences can face severe consequences from the Court: diving into criminality.

This article serves as a brief guide to the concept of fundamental dishonesty and how it could affect you if you are found guilty of deliberately attempting to mislead the Court.

What is Fundamental Dishonesty?

The concept of fundamental dishonesty was introduced in law under Section 57 of the Criminal Justice & Courts Act 2015 in an attempt to discourage embellished personal injury claims.

In practice, the burden of proof is upon the Defendant to prove that the Claimant has been fundamentally dishonest. Discovery of which is typically found before trial during disclosure or from evidence during proceedings.

Fundamental dishonesty can include a Claimant claiming that as a result of the index accident he/she sustained injuries which have prevented the Claimant from carrying out a particular task when this is in fact untrue.

Additional examples of what is to be considered fundamental dishonesty include:

  • Exaggerating any aspect of your claim;
  • Pursuing a claim which is untrue;
  • Providing fabricated evidence; and
  • Inconsistencies in the evidence provided.

The requirements to establish fundamental dishonesty include that the dishonesty element must be related to something that is fundamental, or significant, in the case rather than as a minor or insignificant element of the case.

Defendants or their insurers are able to ascertain whether a Claimant is being fundamentally dishonest by gathering surveillance, gathering eyewitness accounts on the circumstances of the index accident, inspecting a Claimants social media account or checking it with their employer.

Consequences

The consequences of pursuing a personal injury claim which is found to be fundamentally dishonest can include the following for Claimants:

  1. The Claim is struck out
    • The Court may use its discretionary powers to dismiss the claim all together if found to be fundamentally dishonest. It suffices to say that notwithstanding where a claim is genuine, though includes some elements of dishonesty, this can still apply. A further consequence of this is it quashes the Claimant’s right to appeal or raise the same case again.
  2. Costs implications
    • Ordinarily under Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting, Claimants do not bear liability for costs in personal injury cases. Albeit in circumstances where a Claimant is found to be fundamentally dishonest in their claim, this protection is quashed. As a result, the Claimant is required to pay the legal costs incurred by both parties, i.e. both the Claimant’s solicitors and the Defendant’s
  3. Criminal
    • There is a likelihood that the Claimant could be prosecuted for contempt of Court or perjury where a claim is found to be fundamentally dishonest, though this is often limited to extreme cases.
Application of Fundamental Dishonesty

While dishonesty is an established legal principle in tort, and as pointed out in this article can lead to criminal consequences, the principle of fundamental dishonesty is specific to personal injury claims only; the application of which is limited to Claimants.

Contact us for professional advice related to personal injury claims.

*This article is not legal advice but provides a general overview. The specific details of your case will determine the best course of action.

Previous Insight:

Whiplash Claims Reforms