The High Court in London recently gave guidance on the provisions of fundamental dishonesty and the potential consequences for anyone found to be making a fundamentally dishonest personal Injury claim.
In the case of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (in liquidation) v Sinfield the court ruled that a volunteer injured while working at the 2012 London Olympics was fundamentally dishonest in exaggerating the costs of gardening help following an accident.
Mr Sinfield suffered a badly broken arm and the Organising Committee accepted this had happened as a result of negligence. Sinfield claimed he had employed a gardener as a direct result of his injury, which left him unable to tend his garden. The claim, worth many thousands of pounds, took into account gardening fees already incurred as well as the projected cost of gardening services in the future.
However it was discovered that Sinfield’s gardener had been engaged before the accident – there was no increase in the number of hours worked in the garden after the accident occurred. Sinfield also admitted to producing incorrect invoices purporting to be from his gardener as evidence of the amounts he claimed to have paid his gardener after the accident.
In court the judges decided Sinfield had been fundamentally dishonest and should receive no damages whatsoever, neither from the gardening claim nor from any of the other parts of his claim. They ruled Sinfield’s dishonesty had substantially affected the presentation of his case and had potentially adversely affected the Organising Committee in a significant way; the fact that the greater part of Sinfield’s claim may have been genuine was judged neither here nor there considering his fundamental dishonesty.
Sinfield’s explanation was that prior to the accident he had chosen to use the gardener but that afterwards he was obliged to do so because of his injury – in claiming for something that was not in truth a loss, his entire damages claim was jeopardised.
Honest claimants have nothing to fear. However, those who are dishonest will be called to account over their actions, and quite rightly so. If you think you have a legitimate claim for accident compensation it is vital to tell your solicitor the whole truth so they can accurately advise you on the validity of your claim.
Claire Watson. Partner & Head of personal injury
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