Zenith Personal Injury Current Awareness

Personal Injury and the tort of deceit

27 March 2018

Justin Crossley

UK Insurance Ltd –v- Gentry [2018] EWHC 372B

In this High Court action a road traffic insurer recovered damages in the tort of deceit against the Defendant following a staged accident. 

Background

The Defendant alleged that his vehicle was in collision with another vehicle.  He claimed the other driver was at fault and that the accident was witnessed by a passenger in his car.  The insurer of the other vehicle admitted fault and paid the Defendant damages in respect of the value of the car.

The Defendant issued proceedings in the County Court and recovered damages including personal injury and hire totalling £75,000 and costs.

Following the payment of damages, the Claimant carried out internet searches which indicated that the Defendant and the driver of the other vehicle knew each other before the collision.  There was evidence to suggest they took part in the same sporting events and the other driver had in fact lived in the Defendant’s house for some time.

The Defendant in a witness statement dated 15 March 2014 claimed he had not known the other driver before the accident.  He subsequently accepted that this was untrue.

Judgment

After a two day trial in the High Court, Teare J held that the Claimant had made out its case against the Defendant.  The Court noted that given the allegation against the Defendant was one of criminal behaviour, particularly cogent evidence was required to satisfy the Court on the balance of probability.  The nature of the allegations made it appropriate to apply a standard, not so far short of the criminal standard. To discharge the burden of proof, the Claimant must be able to exclude any substantial, as opposed to fanciful or remote possibility, that the collision was genuine.

The Court was satisfied that the accident was staged and that tort of deceit had been made out.  In arriving at this decision, it relied upon the Defendant having lied in his initial Witness Statement as to whether he knew the driver of the other vehicle.  Further, it considered the luxury status of the Defendant’s car and the age and mileage of the Claimant’s car (which was old and of low value) seemed consistent with a staged collision.  In addition, the Defendant’s failure to give evidence at his own trial strengthened the Claimant’s case.

The Court held that the Claimant was not required to establish a motive for the fraud as the facts of it in the case were sufficiently unambiguous. 

The Court awarded the Defendant to pay the Claimant damages of £19,179 and the costs, which inevitably will have been high.

Current Awareness

By the Personal Injury team