The consequences of pursuing fraudulent claims have been shown on two recent motor cases. Both claimants have been committed to prison.
In Ewere, the claimant was at home and answered the door to a motorist who admitted that she had accidentally collided with his parked car whilst parking her own. The two went to look at their cars and discovered a mark on the claimant’s car, although it was later decided that the mark was there already. They exchanged details and went their separate ways. Some weeks later, the claimant began a personal injuries claim for neck and shoulder whiplash, saying that he had been in the car when the collision occurred. He then produced his GP records which recorded him as having said that he had hit his head on the steering wheel in the collision but made no mention of neck or shoulder pain. The claim was pursued to trial where it was dismissed.
The defendant’s insurers applied for the claimant to be committed to prison for contempt of court. Mr Justice Slade found that the claimant had had not been in the car and had not suffered any injuries in the collision and committed him to prison.
In Ahmed the claimant overtook on the inside lane, cut in front of the defendant’s car and then braked suddenly for no reason, causing the defendant to collide with him. The claimant alleged that he had been in the same lane all along, in slow moving traffic and that the defendant had driven into the back of his car. Unfortunately for the claimant, the incident was captured on CCTV. The claim was pursued to trial where it was dismissed and the District Judge found that the claim was fundamentally dishonest.
The defendant’s insurers applied for the claimant to be committed to prison. Mr Justice Spencer found that the claimant’s version of events was false and that he had made false statements that he could not have honestly believed were true and committed him to prison.
In contempt proceedings the applicant must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (one of the few exceptions to the usual test of balance of probabilities in civil proceedings) that the respondent had made false statements, that the respondent had no honest belief in the truth of his statements, that the statements were likely to interfere with the course of justice and that the respondent knew that the statements were likely to interfere with the course of justice. Both claimants will now have an extended opportunity to reflect on whether the potential financial gain was really worth the risk of the loss of their liberty.
 The others are proceedings in the Election Court, sexual offences prevention orders and risk of sexual harm orders.