Litigation friend pays price for fundamental dishonesty

Crash: Mother initially said there were no injuries

A circuit judge has ordered a litigation friend to pay costs after finding that she was responsible for the fundamental dishonesty behind linked claims.

According to DAC Beachcroft, which acted for the defendant and his insurer Allianz Insurance in AX and BX (by their Litigation Friend CX) v ZZ, the claimants (two children) were alleged to have been passengers in a vehicle with their parents, driven by their father.

It was admitted that, if there had been a collision, ZZ was liable, but the primary defence was that no collision had occurred.

The injuries claimed for were neck and back injury and some travel anxiety for both children. The evidence of the accident and injuries was given by the claimant’s mother, their litigation friend, supported by medical reports.

However, when reporting the collision to the police on the day of the accident and during Allianz’s investigation some days later, she had said no one was injured as a result of the alleged collision.

This concerned His Honour Judge Gargan in Middlesbrough County Court, as did the delay in attending the doctors with the children, the inconsistency in the reasons given for the delay and the asserted injuries, the lack of objective findings on examination and the lack of any reference to the doctor of any psychological issues for the children.

DAC reported that the judge’s view was that the late attendance at the doctors “was suggestive of having been told to go to the GP (presumably as something one would expect in the event of an injury)”.

HHJ Gargan found that, on the balance of probabilities, no injury had been sustained and accordingly dismissed both claims, finding them to be fundamentally dishonest and ordering the litigation friend to pay the defendant’s costs, which were summarily assessed on the indemnity basis at a sum in excess of £10,000, with permission being granted to the defendant to enforce the order.

James Burge, fraud manager at Allianz Insurance said: “This outcome is a positive step in the right direction for the industry.”

DAC said the ruling confirmed that a litigation friend would personally bear the cost of their fundamental dishonesty and that the claimants themselves did not need to give evidence or sign statements of case for such a finding to be made.

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