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Credit Hire and Fundamental Dishonesty - Aidan Ellis, Temple Garden Chambers

29/04/20. For many years, the claimants in credit hire cases were habitually described by Judges as honest witnesses, perhaps confused about the detail of the contractual arrangements but always trying their best to assist the court. However, the growing judicial awareness of the problem of fraudulent claims in soft tissue injury cases and the increasing reliance on section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 means that findings of fundamental dishonesty are increasingly being seen in a credit hire context. Two recent appellate decisions, summarised below, illustrate this trend.

In Roberts v Kesson and Tesco Underwriting Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 521, the unsuccessful Defendant appealed against the first instance decision on section 57. In a claim for personal injury and special damages including credit hire, storage and the pre-accident value of the vehicle, whilst acknowledging that aspects of the claim were “curious”, the trial Judge had dismissed those aspects of the claim which he found were not proven but entered judgment for the claimant on the remainder. On appeal, the High Court held that the decision had failed to address the issue of fundamental dishonesty properly and systematically and went on to find that the only possible conclusion from the evidence was that there had been dishonesty in relation to the claim for the pre-accident value of the vehicle, that the dishonesty was fundamental and therefore that the whole claim should be dismissed pursuant to section 57.

In order to explain the decision, it is necessary to set out...

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