A defendant solicitor has claimed the number of dishonest claims for industrial injury is on the rise, citing two such cases which were dismissed by the county court.
The claims in Taylor v Metcalfe Farming Limited and Cope v WM Radford Transport Limited were both found to be fundamentally dishonest and the judge in each stripped away the claimants’ costs protection. In total, the costs order against the two unsuccessful claimants came to more than £30,000.
Jonathan Head, director at DWF, the defendant firm in both cases, said: ‘We are experiencing an increase in disease claims that are dishonestly presented. These judgments show there is zero-tolerance for claimants who try to obtain damages through deception.’
In Taylor, the claimant had engaged solicitor firm Silverbeck Rymer (which later became part of Quindell) in 2014 to bring an action for noise-induced hearing loss against his former employer. An audiogram or hearing test was arranged for the claimant but there appeared to be no further action.
Taylor then entered a CFA in October 2020 with another firm, Kinetic Law. The defence raised the issue of limitation and dishonesty, arguing that the claimant had falsely represented when he had sufficient knowledge to advance a claim. In his witness statement, the claimant said he had never thought of making a claim for deafness until 2020. Deputy District Judge Rafferty, sitting at Wakefield County Court, said this was ‘plainly not true’.
‘The dishonesty was plainly fundamental to this claim,’ added the judge. ‘Limitation is vital to establishing a valid claim against the first defendant and appears in the vast majority of noise-induced hearing loss claims… It is therefore a fundamental part of the claimant’s claim that the claim is within the limitation period.’
In Cope, heard at Mansfield County Court, the claimant submitted he was exposed to excessive levels of noise while employed as a driver and mechanic throughout his shifts for 15 years.
In fact, he worked only as a driver for nine years, and would have been exposed to loud tools for seconds or minutes of a day, rather than hours as he claimed.
District Judge Carter said dishonesty ‘went to the root of the claim because it was dishonesty about his level of exposure to noise and that was the key element for the purposes of his claim’.
The judges disapplied QOCS so that the defendants will be entitled to enforce its costs. The claims will now be passed to DWF’s dedicated recovery team to pursue those costs from the claimants.
James Burge, head of counter fraud at Allianz Commercial, the insurer in Taylor and Cope, said: ‘Both cases show the lengths that claimants will go to, to fraudulently obtain damages, and why we continue to pursue these types of claims through the courts and ensure that those who falsify claims are fully investigated and held accountable.’