High Court dismisses fundamentally dishonest £6.4m PI claim

Pope: Case sets a precedent

A man seriously injured in a motorbike crash “has only himself to blame” after his £6.4m claim was dismissed in the biggest case to date where fundamental dishonesty was found.

His Honour Judge Sephton KC, sitting as a High Court judge, valued Matthew Shaw’s claim at £1.2m plus interest and said “it would probably have settled if Mr Shaw had been honest”.

The judge went on: “If Mr Shaw’s lies were not an issue in the case, it would have been a relatively straightforward matter of determining Mr Shaw’s condition and prognosis and deciding what losses flowed as a result.

“I consider it highly likely that the defendant’s insurers would have settled the case at the latest after joint statements had been prepared.

“Instead the court has had to unpick Mr Shaw’s Iies in order to arrive at the true facts.”

HHJ Sephton said the parties had incurred the costs of a 10-day trial with leading and junior counsel on both sides and experts present throughout the trial to hear evidence, in case their views had to be modified because they were based on inaccurate facts.

“The court’s valuable resources have been expended. The Iies have had a very significant effect upon the costs of the case and the use of court resources.”

Mr Shaw, 26 at the time, was riding his motorbike in Stockport in 2018 when Gillian Wilde drove out from a minor road into his path, causing him severe injuries.

Ms Wilde admitted liability and her insurer, Hastings, made interim payments of £50,000 in September 2019 and £100,000 in May 2020.

The High Court found that Mr Shaw was not guilty of contributory negligence in February 2022 but by this time Ms Wilde has raised the issue of fundamental dishonesty under section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

Counsel for Mr Shaw argued that his client had “undoubtedly suffered serious injury” and this was not a case where a claimant was feigning serious injuries when actually they were minor.

But HHJ Sephton said Mr Shaw had “lied to the experts and to the court about the extent of his disabilities”, having been made aware of the potential consequences of making a dishonest claim.

“Despite this, he did not admit that he had Iied; on the contrary he continued to lie. He was unrepentant.”

Investigations by Keoghs, acting for Hastings, showed Mr Shaw had taken part in a number of extreme sports including base jumping, climbing and had also been certified fit for a tandem skydive by his GP.

Early on, it recorded him walked 900 metres unaided, whilst carrying his young son in a baby carrier, despite claiming he was only able to walk 200 metres with a stick.

However, Mr Shaw maintained he had poor mobility and persisted in his claims for a substantial care package, a Land Rover or Mercedes to transport his mobility scooter, bungalow accommodation in an affluent area, and business class travel for trips abroad.

The judge said: “I have reached the conclusion with regret that Mr Shaw advanced a case that his mobility and function were severely compromised when he knew that his mobility and function were not nearly so severely affected as he made out. He then gave explanations and excuses which he knew to be untrue.”

On whether dismissing the claim would result in substantial injustice, HHJ Sephton said the principal consequence would be that Mr Shaw’s financial position would be “much less than favourable, even parlous”, but “owing to state provision, however, his basic needs would be met”.

Despite the “financial hardship”, the judge was “not persuaded” that there would be substantial injustice.

Mr Shaw “gambled that his lies would not be found out or that the court would excuse them, although he was aware of the risk that his claim might be dismissed it he were found out”.

In a further judgment on ancillary issues, HHJ Sephton ordered Mr Shaw to repay the interim payments of £150,000. He ruled that the costs of the contributory negligence proceedings should be paid by the defendant.

Under section 57(5) of the Act, Mr Shaw would not be ordered to pay the defendant’s costs of over £820,000, because the figure was “much less than the amount that the court would have awarded but for the dismissal of the claim” (a total of over £1.2m).

Mike Pope, partner at Keoghs, which acted for the defendant, said the court refused Mr Shaw permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal in relation to the finding he would not suffer substantial injustice if his claim were dismissed, the judge considering his construction of the Act to be “the same as several other judges in this jurisdiction”.

Furthermore, the judgment fell within the “wide bounds” of the court’s discretion, in “what is essentially a jury question”.

Mr Pope added: “The judgment represents a precedent for all similar future cases in its analysis of dishonesty sufficient to dismiss a very serious claim, the circumstances when such dishonesty may be excused, and the costs orders which flow from these decisions.”

    Readers Comments

  • Abdul hussain says:

    the courts judge shud hang his head in shame nit picking to dismiss his case has lies.how did the accident happen and it was admitted it was the driver fault now this bloody judge has given this poor person a life sentence of misfortune and his family for all there’s life just so the insurance companies can keep getting greedy and rip law biding peaple the judge shud be taken to court for the horror decision

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