Fundamental Dishonesty – A case Analysis
Fundamental dishonesty is still a relatively new term applied to personal injury claims in the UK and still poses as a grey area for Solicitors, Barrister and Judges as a formal definition is not available. Due to this there is still some argument and confusion regarding when a fundamentally dishonesty finding should apply.
In the case of Wright v Satellite Information Services the Claimant was successful with a claim for damages however a major reduction was applied to the Claimant’s claim for future care and assistance as the Defendant had provided a video to the Court showing that the Claimant was not left as disabled as he claimed to be. Due to this the Claimant’s claim for future care and assistance was reduced from the £73,000 claimed to just £2,100. The Defendant therefore argued that this was an exaggeration of the claim and bid to mislead the Court and made an application for fundamental dishonesty. This application was rejected as the trial Judge, Judge Pearce, ruled that the Claimant’s case was not fatally harmed by an exaggerated claim for care costs.
This decision was appealed and was heard before Mrs Justice Yip. Mrs Justice Yip dismissed the appeal as she believed that the Defendant lacked detailed analysis of the way that the claim had been presented and stated that the Solicitors resorted to emotional language to put forward their appeal. The care claim was largely based on an expert report and Mrs Justice Yip confirmed that the Claimant had been broadly consistent in what he had said throughout the claims process and trial. Mrs Justice Yip concluded in stating that the reason for the trial Judge’s rejection of this claim was not that he found the Claimant’s evidence to be untruthful, but rather that a proper interpretation of that evidence did not support the assessment of the care expert. She added that the appeal amounted to an ‘impermissible attempt’ to overturn the Court’s decision.
In light of this case it is clear that the area of fundamental dishonesty remains a grey area. Whilst this case shows that in some instances an exaggeration of an element of a claim may not result in a ruling of fundamental dishonestly, if an element of a claim is purposely exaggerated a ruling of fundamental dishonesty may still be applied.