APIL president criticised ’fundamental dishonesty’ law change
A leading insurance law firm has hit back at clams by personal injury solicitors that recently introduced rules to clamp down on dishonest claimants are unfair.
In his keynote speech at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) annual conference last month, the organisation’s president Jonathan Wheeler criticised recently introduced ’fundamental dishonesty’ provisions on the grounds that it didn’t target ‘dishonest defences’ from insurers.
Under Section 57 of the recently passed Criminal Justice and Courts Act, courts are required to dismiss an entire personal injury claim where a claimant is shown to have been ‘fundamentally dishonest’.
Previously, a claimant could expect to recover the genuine element of a claim even if it was found that he or she had dishonestly claimed additional losses.
Ronan McCann, fraud partner at Horwich Farrelly, defended the recently introduced provisions.
He said: “The insurance industry is facing a real threat from fraudulent claims and the courts appreciate that being lenient on proven fraudsters is hardly fair to honest citizens. These enhanced legal powers aim to close the net on fraudsters – they are a charter for honest policyholders.”
McCann added that safeguards existed against the risk of insurers mounting dishonest defences.
“Defendants who raise a defence without merit can rightly expect to have their case thrown out and be penalised though Part 36 and indemnity costs.
“I do not accept Mr Wheeler’s suggestion that insurers would dishonestly raise a defence in the hope that a claimant would die before settlement. His comments illustrate a lack of understanding amongst some personal injury lawyers about the impact of fraud on honest policyholders.
“No one should criticise insurers where they are correctly using all the tools at their disposal to tackle and prevent fraudulent claims.”