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Following a road traffic accident, the claimant, Mr Judge, pursued a claim for damages worth £5k. After investigations by Flint Bishop and insurer client Haven Insurance, a post-litigation repudiation was sent to the claimant. The claimant failed to comply with court directions and as such, Flint Bishop made applications to strike out his claim and for a finding of fundamental dishonesty. Mr Judge subsequently discontinued his claim, but the application hearing proceeded, at which Mr Judge was found to be fundamentally dishonest and was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs to be assessed if not agreed.

Mr Judge alleged that he was a passenger in a Mercedes C300 which was involved in a road traffic accident on 10 March 2020 with a Mercedes Sprinter van. Apart from the accident date, the vehicles involved and the drivers’ names, the remainder of Mr Judge’s pleaded case was incorrect.

The accident occurred in the Sevenoaks area in Kent when our insurer client’s insured driver had to reverse slightly on a narrow country road to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass. The Mercedes car was behind the insured in his blind spot, and a low speed impact between the rear of the van and the front of the car occurred.

Mr Judge’s pleaded case, however, was that the accident occurred on the A6046 Manchester Road in the Heywood area of Greater Manchester (250 miles from the actual location) when the defendant’s insured vehicle pulled out of a side road and collided with the passenger side of the vehicle in which Mr Judge alleged he was a passenger.

Haven’s insured was adamant that there was only the driver in the Mercedes car when the accident occurred. The driver of the Mercedes car dealt with Haven directly in respect of his vehicle related losses and so we contacted him to discuss this incident. He confirmed that the accident was as reported by Haven’s insured, that he was alone in his vehicle and that he did not know the claimant. A witness statement to this effect was obtained from him.

A post-litigation repudiation letter was sent to the claimant via his solicitors detailing the concerns with his claim and confirming that a finding of fundamental dishonesty would be sought in this matter.

The claimant failed to comply with disclosure and, as such, an application to strike out his claim and for a finding of fundamental dishonesty was made to the court and listed for hearing on 15 November 2021. The claimant subsequently discontinued his claim prior to the hearing, but we ensured that the court did not vacate the hearing as we would simply have asked for it to be re-listed.

The hearing proceeded on 15 November 2021, despite the claimant and his solicitor failing to attend. Deputy District Judge Williams in the County Court at Manchester confirmed “that this was clearly a claim that had been brought on false premises”, that “this could never have been an honest claimant with an honest belief in the claim” and that his “conduct since solidifies it was not an honest claimant” and accordingly made a finding that “the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest in bringing this claim.”

Anna Shea commented on the case:

We often see phantom passenger claims of this sort, but rarely do we see them where the accident circumstances are pleaded incorrectly and it is alleged to have taken place in a completely different area of the country. The assistance of both the insured and the driver of the third party vehicle was imperative, and their statements were confirmed by Deputy District Judge Williams to have been the best evidence in support of the application.



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