Zenith Personal Injury Current Awareness

​Solicitors, statements of truth and CNFs: Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited v Yavuz and others [2017] EWHC 3088 QB

12 December 2017

Peter Yates

In Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd v Yavuz and others, Warby J found that the parties to a crash-for-cash conspiracy were guilty of contempt of court.

The case put forward by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd (“LVI”) was that “false and dishonest statements were made by the defendants in witness statements, schedules of loss and updated schedules of loss, claim forms, and particulars of claim, all of which were in fact verified by statements of truth”.

Ultimately the various Defendants to the proceedings were found to have committed contempt of court. Of particular interest, however, were Warby J’s comments in relation to statements made by solicitors, and set out in a footnote to his judgment. They bear repeating in full.

“151. There is a related question which, again, does not affect sentence. It is not a part of LVI’s case, but it is a necessary implication of that case, that false statements which these defendants did not believe to be true were made on their behalf in another class of documents verified by a statement of truth, namely the CNFs filed for them through the online portal. The statements of truth on those documents were made by their solicitors. I do not propose to make any findings about this. I mention the matter only because some evidence was led about these CNFs, which led to me query whether contempt proceedings could be brought in respect of such a statement. I express no view on whether this is desirable, but note that it must be the case that many RTA claims are resolved without proceedings, on the basis of CNFs in Form RTA1.

152. I received some submissions from Mr Laughland on these issues. He drew attention to the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct of April 2010 (“the General PAP”), and to the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents of the same date (“the PI Protocol”). These were both in force at the relevant times. The PI PAP set out a process for claims of this kind, requiring a claimant to use a CNF in form RTA1: see para 1.3(1). Para 6.1 of the PI PAP set out the requirements for completion of the CNF. These included, at para 6.6, a requirement that the statement of truth in form RTA1 be “signed by the claimant or the claimant’s legal representative.”

153. The PI PAP contained nothing about the consequences of false verification. But, Mr Laughland points out, the General PAP stated (at para 4.2) that “The court will expect the parties to have complied with this Practice Direction or any relevant pre-action protocol.” It may be arguable therefore that a false and dishonest statement in a CNF in Form RTA1 could found an application to commit for contempt, but it cannot be said that the matter is free from doubt. To say that the court “will expect” compliance with a PAP is not necessarily equivalent to saying that parties must comply. The General PAP states that parties who do not comply may be asked for an explanation, and warns of costs consequences, but not of the prospect of contempt proceedings. This is a topic that may be worthy of consideration by those responsible for these PAPs, and perhaps the Civil Procedure Rules Committee.”

Gordon Exall, of Zenith Chambers, has blogged extensively on the dangers involved in signing statements of truth on behalf of clients. It is something that must be approached with exceptional care, and a detailed record should be kept of any advice and instructions given.

Current Awareness

By the Personal Injury team