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Claimant lawyers ordered to pay half the costs of a fundamentally dishonest personal injury claim

A defendant firm has hailed a rare court decision where a claimant’s lawyers were ordered to pay towards the costs of a fundamentally dishonest claim.

The order from Doncaster County Court required the claimant’s solicitors to pay £2,035 in wasted costs and a further £2,100 towards the costs of the fundamental dishonesty application.

Costs orders are regularly made against individual claimants whose case is found to be fundamentally dishonest, but it is unusual for their representatives to be hit for costs as well.

The costs orders against the solicitors came to around half of the total costs claimed by the defendant insurer AXA, represented by north west firm HF.

The low-value RTA claim included a claim for psychological injuries but these were not supported by any documented medical notes. Claimant solicitors failed to provide medical experts with complete, up-to-date records to seek opinion on the impact of the accident, and the claim – which included an otherwise honest whiplash element – was dismissed in its entirety.

HF said the case formed part of a ‘worrying trend’ of low-value RTA claims being ‘layered’ to increase damages and costs.

The firm said the costs order should be a warning to claimants and their solicitors about adding elements to a claim that are not backed up by any evidence.

Jared Mallinson, partner and head of counter fraud at HF, said: ‘This case really pushes home the point that claimants who dishonestly exaggerate their claims can expect to walk away with nothing except the need to pay the insurers’ costs. Even more importantly, claimants’ solicitors are not immune from cost penalties pursuant to the Senior Courts Act 1981 and CPR part 46.8, should they fail in their duty, in this instance to provide experts with such documentation (for which there was an order for disclosure) which may alter their opinions.’

The court order does not name the penalised firm. The Gazette is making further enquiries. 

The Civil Liabilities Act imposed a tariff on whiplash injuries and included an uplift for psychological injuries. In cases where injuries last less than three months, this uplift amounts to an extra £20, with the uplift worth £120 where injuries last up to two years.

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