Honest Claimants have nothing to fear…..
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill was passed last week and will come into force as soon as it gains Royal Assent.
Clause 56 of that Bill is intended to tackle fraudulent claims. It states that the court must dismiss an entire claim if satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the Claimant has been 'fundamentally dishonest' in any part of it, unless doing so would cause 'substantial injustice'.
Claimant lawyers have campaigned against the Clause on the basis that it could lead to claims being too readily dismissed, where financial losses may have been exaggerated.
The president of the Associate of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) says:
"The introduction of the power for blanket dismissal of a case for ‘fundamental dishonesty’ will lead to three things: an increase in satellite litigation as lawyers argue over what is meant by ‘fundamental dishonesty’ and ‘substantial injustice’; an increase in spurious allegations of fraud by unscrupulous insurers; an increase in the number of genuine claimants who either underplay their symptoms or who fail to bring valid cases at all, for fear of being falsely accused."
Defendant lawyers welcome the news as a "positive development…..There is an inevitable cry of this being a Draconian sanction. That is certainly so, but that alone does not make it inappropriate. The genuine claimant has nothing to fear."
The true position will probably only become clear after the Bill has been reviewed by experienced judges in costly satellite litigation and the real meaning of 'fundamentally dishonest' has been clarified. Watch this space…..