Court of Appeal
The Issues: At first instance the Recorder decided that:
(a) The Claimant had conspired with his mother to support her fraudulent claim.
(b) The Claimant had however genuinely suffered minor personal injuries and should be awarded the normal minor damages.
(c) He would not strike out the Claimant’s claim under CPR3.4(2), (which provides that the court may strike out a statement of case if it appears that the statement of case is an abuse of process).
(d) The Claimant should pay two thirds of the Defendant’s costs.
Deducting the costs awarded against him from his damages meant that the Claimant ended up slightly out of pocket, but it was the Defendant who appealed, and asked the Court of Appeal to consider whether it is possible, under CPR 3.4(2) or at all, to strike out a genuine claim on the ground that the claimant had been involved in a fraud on the Court.
Held: There is no general rule in contract or tort that the dishonest exaggeration of a genuine claim would result in the dismissal of the whole claim (para 16). In such circumstances the court will invariably award limited damages appropriate to its findings, although, of course, a claimant’s credibility may be so damaged that he fails to prove any part of his loss.
If a dishonest claimant is not deprived of the damages he is entitled to because he has fraudulently attempted to obtain more, should the position be different where the claimant’s fraud consists of lying to support another person’s claim? LJ Smith saw no logical justification for suggesting that the claimant who lies about another person’s claim should be treated more severely than the claimant who lies about his own claim (para 20).
With regard CPR 3.4(2), where a trial has taken place and the court is able to reach reliable findings it is not open to the trial judge to strike out the claim, he must give effect to his findings. Judges can mark their disapproval by an order for costs, but they cannot deprive claimants of the damages they are entitled to (para 28).
Accordingly the appeal was dismissed.