Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 came into force on 13 April 2015. Under Section 57, personal injury claims can be dismissed/struck out where the claimant has been found to be fundamentally dishonest in relation to either the primary claim or a related claim.
This is not an automatic procedure and any defendant will have to make an application to the court. Should the court be satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest in relation to the primary claim or a related claim, the court must dismiss the primary claim. However, the claimant will have the opportunity to try to persuade the court that the claim should not be dismissed. To do this, they must be able to show they would suffer a substantial injustice if the claim was dismissed.
‘Related claims’ includes references to a claimant who may have dishonestly supported the fraudulent claim of another, and as a result may have their own claim dismissed, whether honest or not. In relation to costs in these circumstances, the court must deduct the amount recorded (the court’s order dismissing the claim must record the amount of damages that the court would have awarded to the claimant in respect of the primary claim but for the dismissal of the claim) from the amount which it would otherwise order the claimant to pay in respect of costs incurred by the defendant.
It may of course be difficult to assess the true value of a claim at an early stage in the proceedings and it remains to be seen how the court will tackle that issue. In any event, claimant solicitors will need to ensure their clients are aware of the implications of a finding of fundamental dishonesty from the outset of the claim.