Judge considers whether a quantum trial is needed for an insurer's application to strike out a personal injury claim for fundamental dishonesty
The claimant was struck by a bus and had a cardiac arrest at the scene of the accident. He was resuscitated and subsequently discharged from hospital. He claims that he suffered a severe conversion disorder. When he was visited by the defendant insurer's expert, he was mute and unresponsive. However, covert surveillance before that visit had shown the claimant making trips to various shops. The defendant therefore applied to have the claim dismissed under section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, on the ground that the personal injury claim was fundamentally dishonest. The claimant argued that the court could not decide the issue now, but should instead hear all the evidence first.
Section 57(4) of the Act provides that, if the claim is dismissed, the court must record the amount of damages which it would have otherwise awarded for the honest part of the claim. Section 57(5) states that that amount must then be deducted from the costs which the defendant would otherwise have been awarded.
The judge noted that the Act does not require a quantum assessment of the full claim to be carried out. She concluded that "I am satisfied that as a matter of law, a s57 application may be determined at any time after the claimant's entitlement to damages is established. Whether, in any case, it should be determined before a quantum trial will depend on whether it can be determined justly at that time. This will depend on all the circumstances of that particular case. I can see the force in the Claimant's submission that by considering a s57 application after the liability trial but before full quantification of the claim the court is effectively embarking on a summary process. For that reason I consider it is necessary for a court considering a s57 application in these circumstances to think carefully whether there are real grounds for believing that a fuller investigation will add to or alter the evidence relevant to the issues that it must determine".
In this case, the judge rejected the claimant's submission that the court cannot make a finding of fundamental dishonesty without hearing from, and testing, at trial the full range of expert evidence on which the claimant wished to rely on for quantification of his claim. She concluded that the diagnosis of a severe conversion disorder was not tenable and the claimant was fundamentally dishonest. She could also determine the appropriate amount under section 57(4) even though the claimant's schedule of loss was unparticularised.
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