The highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, has ruled that a Claimant who was originally paid out £135,000 by insurance company Zurich should have his compensation reduced to £14,720, which means he will have to pay back the difference to Zurich.
Previously the second highest court, being the Court of Appeal, had ruled the original settlement should stand, even though Zurich had uncovered evidence the Claimant was fraudulent, which they allege they were unaware of when they originally entered settlement.
The case is that of Hayward v Zurich and the original settlement of £135,000 followed what appeared to be a serious back injury caused by Zurich’s insured client. However, in the years following his settlement Mr Hayward’s neighbours submitted evidence to Zurich which proved he was not as badly injured as he had stated he was at the time of the settlement. In fact, his injuries appeared to be nowhere near as bad as he had previously claimed, hence why the Supreme Court reduced his compensation to £14,720.
The Supreme Court decision was unanimous, which means all of the judges agreed, and sends a clear message to fraudulent claimants in that any matter could be revisited even years after settlement if the evidence suggests they were dishonest at the time of settlement.
As a solicitor who represents mostly claimants I in fact welcome this decision. Contrary to what insurance companies may allege, the vast majority of claimant solicitors are keen to tackle fraudulent claims as they damage the reputation of the profession and cause difficulties for genuinely injured people.
By James Winterbottom, Solicitor
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