By Anna Owens, Solicitor, Litigation Department
In our last newsletter, issue 2 2012, Tríona Walsh, Solicitor, highlighted a case where the High Court dismissed a deliberately exaggerated claim under section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”). Since then, the courts have dismissed a further number of cases where the plaintiffs were held to be deliberately misleading the court either by giving false or misleading evidence themselves or by deliberately causing some other person to do so on their behalf. In this article, we examine three of these High Court cases.
In the case of Mohammed Sameur Rahman v Craigfort Taverns Limited (11th October 2012) the plaintiff slipped and fell during the course of his employment at the defendant’s hotel. He complained of a variety of injuries and gave evidence that he was in constant pain as a result and was unable to work or cope with the normal activities of daily life. None of the doctors who gave evidence could give a physical explanation for the plaintiff’s complaints. The defendant produced surveillance of the plaintiff going about his daily life with absolutely no disability whatsoever and proving that he was working. Judge O’Neill found that this was wholly inconsistent with the evidence presented in court, both verbally by the plaintiff and physically in the form of laboured movements and facial grimacing as if in pain. He found that the plaintiff had engaged in material non-disclosure regarding his activities and his capacity to earn a livelihood and that the gross exaggeration of his injuries had to do with a conscious desire to enhance the value of his claim. In those circumstances, he dismissed the plaintiff’s claim under Section 26 of the 2004 Act.
The case of Sean Meehan v BKNS Curtain Walling Systems Limited and others (26th October 2012) involved an accident at work where the plaintiff alleged that he had tumbled out through scaffolding. Before the case came to trial, CCTV footage emerged which contradicted the plaintiff’s version of events as pleaded. The plaintiff also claimed a loss of earnings to date and into the future as a result of his injuries. He gave evidence that his only source of income was from social welfare, however on cross examination it emerged that he was a professional ticket tout. Judge Ryan found that this evidence was knowingly false and misleading in a material respect. His abandonment of his original account of the accident was unexplained and the inference was that it was knowingly false and misleading. He dismissed the case under Section 26 of the 2004 Act and held that the injustice exemption did not apply.
Section 26 was applied again in the case of Adjoua Salako v Stephen O’Carroll (25th January 2013). In his judgment, Judge Peart stated firstly that he was making full allowance for the fact that English was not the plaintiff’s first language, although she did speak it fluently. He found that she was a poor historian and that she was not at all times credible. The defendant produced surveillance footage which showed the plaintiff using a crutch when going to a medical examination with the defendant’s doctor but she had not used it earlier that day when bringing her children to school. Doctors on both sides gave evidence of inconsistencies on examination. Judge Peart found that each of the doctor’s evidence was sufficient to be satisfied that the plaintiff deliberately sought to mislead the court. He dismissed the plaintiff’s claim under Section 26 of the 2004 Act and found that there was no injustice to the plaintiff in so doing.
For more information on this topic, please contact Anna Owens or Robert Kennedy in our litigation department.
Cases can be dismissed by the courts under Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 if the plaintiff knowingly gives false or misleading evidence or causes another to give false or misleading evidence on his behalf.
The evidence must be false or misleading in a material respect and if so, the court must dismiss the action unless it would result in an injustice being done to the plaintiff.