FUNDAMENTAL DISHONESTY They think its all over ……. It could be now??

On 13 April 2015 ss57-61 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 came into force. These provisions contain the Government’s latest assault on fraud within the personal injury claims industry and s57 is of particular interest in that it requires the Court to strike out a personal injury claim in its entirety where it is satisfies that a claimant has been fundamentally dishonest.

A Curzon Ashton footballer who found himself paying £11,000 in costs after being one of the first findings of fundamental dishonesty in a case which did not reach trial.

Gary Burnett, 24 a semi-professional footballer was queuing at a McDonald’s drive-thru on 28 October 2013 in Birkenhead Merseyside. The driver in front of him had overshot the food ordering intercom and reversed his vehicle a short distance into the front of Burnett’s stationary van causing very little damage to either vehicle. The driver admitted it was his fault straight away and no injuries were reported at the time so it came as a great shock when only a couple of days later Burnett submitted a claim for £2000. Burnett who also worked as a part-time window cleaner, claimed he had suffered injuries to his back and neck leaving him unable to play for Cheshire-based Northwick Victoria for approximately 4 weeks. After launching an investigation Aviva uncovered the true extent of Burnett’s abilities and discovered that in fact he had played in a match the very next day 29 October.

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Burnett had Tweeted on his own social media “Nice little trek to Kendal later for footy” He went on to play several more times during his sick period, scoring for his team and picking up Man of the Match. His publicly assessable Twitter account showed him bragging about knocking higher ranked team Nantwich Town out of the FA Trophy with a second half goal. Aviva’s solicitors Horwich Farrelly served this evidence on the claimant and the trial was discontinued. However, as the case had not gone to trial the claimant automatically benefitted from QOCS-protection. Aviva by this point had incurred significant costs in defending this claims and were not prepared to just let the matter drop. An application was made to have the Qocs-protection removed and for a finding that the claim was fundamentally dishonesty. On 13 July 2015 the application was listed at Wigan County Court where Burnett failed to attend the hearing and the Judge ruled Burnett to pay Aviva’s costs of £11,028 after finding him fundamentally dishonest.

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