New legislation contained in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is currently before Parliament, sets about once again to reduce perceived widespread fraud and deter claimants from exaggerating their personal injury claims, without incurring significant consequences. The Bill is expected to come into force by January 2015.
In essence, Courts will be required to dismiss the entirety of a claim, where is it found, on the balance of probabilities, that the claimant has been “fundamentally dishonest” in any part of their claim, unless this would cause substantial injustice. This would apply where the Claimant has exaggerated symptoms where this is held to be fundamentally dishonest or even arguably where they have bumped up their expenses claim.
The Ministry of Justice hopes that this will send a strong message to Claimants, who now risk losing all their compensation, if they attempt to exaggerate their losses.
It is not yet known how these changes will be applied and unhelpfully the terms “fundamental dishonesty” and “substantial injustice” are not defined in the draft legislation. Unfortunately there is an argument that these changes could in fact lead to injustice for Claimants with otherwise genuine claims. The Court may find that they are compelled to dismiss entire claims where a reduction in damages would in fact be more appropriate to achieve justice.