Settlement agreed in Autofocus fraud case

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AXA and Accident Exchange have reached an agreement after a long-running legal dispute over the use of rates evidence from discredited research company Autofocus.

Accident Exchange had previously rejected a £1.5m settlement, citing a clause in the agreement that AXA added protecting its former solicitors from any future legal action, but this problem has now been resolved.

Accident Exchange chief executive Steve Evans said: “We didn’t get an anniversary card, but AXA has engaged junior and leading counsel to draft the terms of the settlement agreement which we expect to see today or tomorrow and so that’s probably a better way to mark the passage of four years in the trenches with them.

“The parties are agreed on what belongs in the agreement, agreed on the measure of damages and agreed on the basis and time by which the damages and costs will be paid.”

AXA commercial lines and personal intermediary claims director Chris Voller said: “We are pleased that both parties have managed to come to a mutually agreeable solution to these outstanding cases and that this draws a line under their claims against AXA related to Autofocus.”

Zurich Insurance, LV=, Travelers, Hertz Claims Management, PSV Claims Bureau and Van Ameyde are still to reach an agreement with Accident Exchange.

Evans said: “Zurich is in a really stupid position, along with a few other stragglers which, I suspect, have been waiting in the hope that AXA would solve a problem for them. If Zurich and the others can apply enough common sense to the indefensible position they are still trying to defend then they might save their shareholders the embarrassment of running up a bigger legal bill.”

The Court of Appeal found in favour of Accident Exchange in February over four cases involving fraudulent evidence used by insurers in vehicle hire rate disputes. Insurers had been using evidence from Autofocus to rebut claims.

After the hearing, Accident Exchange said damages arising from the cases were estimated to be in excess of £130m.