North West law firm SAS Daniels LLP has won a landmark insurance case in the Supreme Court.
The firm, which is based in Stockport, was representing Shaun Summers against Fairclough Homes in a case which was hoped, by the UK insurance industry, to act as a warning to claimants who misrepresent or exaggerate injuries. It was hoped by some that a judgement against Mr Summers would pave the way for claims to be thrown out if claimants are found to have exaggerated their injuries.
The case was brought after Mr Summers suffered a serious injury at work for which his employer was found to be liable. Fairclough Homes argued that it ought not to pay Mr Summers anything and produced covert surveillance evidence that suggested that the extent of his disability was less than he had indicated.
After a county court trial awarded damages appropriate to the impact of his injuries, the defendants were not satisfied with the ruling and appealed to the Court of Appeal before opting to take matters to the Supreme Court.
After the judgement was handed down last week Mr Summers was awarded £88,000 in damages.
Commenting on the case Nicola Winslett from SAS Daniels, who acted for Mr Summers, said: “The final judgement reflects the fact that Mr Summers had suffered serious injury and damages have been awarded to be proportionate with the true nature of the injuries he suffered.
“The judgement takes a common sense approach to the judiciaries’ ability to weigh evidence and award damages accordingly. Injured people are entitled to justice, and this ruling protects the entitlement to compensation.
“In this case the court has, rightly, stripped away any over-exaggeration and done justice between the parties based on reliable independent evidence.”
The legal principle under discussion has been a grey area for some time, and many agree that some degree of clarity has now been given after it was confirmed that courts do have the power to strike out a claim for “abuse of process”, but it is a power which should only be exercised in “very exceptional circumstances”.
Nicola added: “There is a fine line between deciding what exaggeration is, which is why the Supreme Court justices decided not to strike out Mr Summers’ case. The legal principle that the insurance industry was hoping for is a difficult, if not impossible one to implement fairly.
“While they ought not to have to make payment unless a claimant can prove his or her case, the idea that an insurance company could use exaggeration as grounds to strike out claims is a dangerous one because it’s difficult to draw the line on what counts as exaggeration.
“This is a victory for individual injured claimants against the might of the insurance industry and it is a victory for the legal principles that underpin our judicial system in Britain.”
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