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Courts have power to strike out claims where there has been an abuse of process

The Supreme Court has recently held that Courts have the power to strike-out claims which are tainted by dishonesty.

In the case of Fairclough Homes Limited [FHL] v Summers, Mr Summers had raised a claim against FHL following an accident he suffered at work. In that accident, he suffered serious fractures and at least 2 operations were required as a consequence. He initially valued his case of over £800,000.

However, FHL obtained evidence that Mr Summers had grossly exaggerated both his injuries and his inability to work. This was disclosed to Mr Summers, who revalued his case at £250,000. FHL, however, applied to the court to strike out the claim on the basis that it was dishonestly exaggerated.

Following trial, Mr Fairclough was awarded £90,000 in respect of his injuries, loss of earnings and miscellaneous services. FHL appealed on the basis that the court had the power to strike out claims where there had been an abuse of process and the claim was tainted by fraud.

At first instance and on appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court held that it had no power to strike out a claim in these circumstances. FHL thereafter appealed to the Supreme Court, which has held that such power does exist, but must only be used in exceptional circumstances and must be a just and proportionate action since striking-out a claim would otherwise impinge on an individual’s right to a trial under Article 6 of the ECHR.

However, the Supreme Court also ruled that, as there are plenty of other remedies available to defenders and their insurers to challenge dishonest claims such as the use of contempt proceedings, it was not appropriate in these circumstances for the case to be struck out and Mr Summers was entitled to his award.

For more information on this, please contact Lewis McDonald.

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