What Is Fundamental Dishonesty?
Fundamental dishonesty solely relates to claimants in a personal injury claim. In other words, it only attributes to the person making a claim against a defendant such as an insurer or an employer.
Fundamental dishonesty means the claimant must have been dishonest about an allegation in their claim. This includes bending the truth, exaggerating the truth, manipulating details to give a false impression and/or lying. Furthermore, the dishonesty must relate to something fundamental in the case which leads to the whole or substantial part of a claim rather than a minor part a claim. For example, if a claimant is dishonest about their injuries as an attempt to receive higher compensation from the defendant.
Usually, a claimant will be able to rely on the principle of Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS) should their claim be unsuccessful. QOCS protects claimants from having to pay the costs of bringing a personal injury claim. Examples of costs in a personal injury claim may include lawyers’ fees, court applications and payment for expert witness. However, if a claimant is found to be fundamentally dishonest, they risk losing the protection of the QOCS principle and could be forced to pay for their own costs as well as the defendant’s costs.
Examples Of Fundamental Dishonesty And The Consequences
- Pegg v Webb & Anor  – The Claimant was involved in a road traffic accident and relied upon a medical report which stated the longevity of the injuries was six-months post-accident. However, the Claimant was subsequently involved in another accident involving a quad bike where he attended A&E twice due to the injuries sustained. The judge found that the Claimant was fundamentally dishonest as he did not seek any medical support after the initial accident and misled the medical expert as he failed to mention the quad bike accident to the medical expert. The Claimant lost the protection of QOCS and was ordered to pay 70% of the Defendant’s costs.
- Alpha Insurance v Roche  – This lies with the public interest in making false claims and claimants who make false claims should be required to meet the costs of litigation. This case involved an allegation from the Claimant that there was a passenger in her car, but the Defendant argued that the Claimant was fundamentally dishonest as she was alone in the car and no other passengers were present during the alleged road traffic accident.
- London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games v Sinfield  – The Claimant was injured whilst volunteering at the Olympic Games and he claimed £14,000 in gardening fees. The Claimant claimed that him and his wife did all the gardening work at home prior to his accident but, after the accident, they had to hire someone else to do it. This turned out to be untrue and the Claimant knew it was a false allegation as well. The judge dismissed the entire claim as the Claimant was fundamentally dishonest about a substantial part of the claim.
Social Media As Evidence To Prove Fundamental Dishonesty
Social media is used globally and can be used as evidence to prove fundamental dishonesty. It is often the case that the Defendant’s insurers or solicitors may have their suspicions about the Claimant’s injuries and/or recovery progress and may investigate the Claimant’s social media accounts.
For example, social media revealed the truth in Iddon v Warner . This case concerned a Claimant who alleged that her GP missed a diagnosis of breast cancer, and she was left with chronic debilitating pain as a result. A main part of the Claimant’s claim was that she used to be a keen open water swimmer but now could not return to her hobbies. However, it was found on her social media that she was participating in organised swimming, open water swimming and running events. The judge held that the Claimant was fundamentally dishonest as the Claimant’s dishonesty was supported by two further witnesses.
Consequences Of Fundamental Dishonesty
If you are found to be fundamentally dishonest in a personal injury claim, the consequences may be:
- You could lose your QOCS protection. This means should your case be struck out, you would be liable to pay both your legal costs and the Defendant’s legal costs, which may add up to a significant amount of money;
- The judge may dismiss your case altogether if the dishonesty was so fundamental and it undermined the entirety of your case. This also means that you may be denied the right to raise such a claim in a court of law again. Similarly, you will still be required to pay for costs up to the dismissal of your case;
- In some circumstances, a person who is found to be fundamentally dishonest to the court may be prosecuted for contempt of court and could lead to a criminal investigation. This will result in you having a criminal conviction as well as potentially receiving a prison sentence.
Here at Law Lane Solicitors, we have the experience and expertise to advise you on the risks and consequences of Fundamental Dishonesty. If you would like to speak to one of our Personal Injury specialists, then please call us on 0207 870 4870 today.
Jing Xan Yong