County Council takes tough line against fraudulent claim

The County Council’s tough stance against fraudulent compensation claims has left one man picking up a bill for almost £10,000 to pay the authority’s court costs.

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The claimant said he had been injured after falling because of missing cobbles on a footpath in Scarborough in April 2014.

The County Council initially admitted the claim and made an interim payment of £1,000. But it was found that photographs used to support the claim showed a defect that was not present at the time the man claimed to have tripped over it.

Under challenge from the County Council, the claimant’s solicitors discontinued his claim. However, the authority applied to the court for a finding of dishonesty against the claimant to enable it to pursue its costs. This was successful, but no costs were paid.

This led to a committal to High Court, where less than an hour before the case was to be heard earlier this month (August) the claimant offered to meet the County Council’s full costs, a bill of £9,696. The council accepted this offer. If he does not pay, the claimant can be taken back before the court.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “North Yorkshire County Council will always take firm action to protect the interests of our taxpayers, and will use all appropriate measures to fight fraudulent claims of this nature. This case sends a message to anyone inclined to try to make such a claim that we will not tolerate this.”

Jonathan Taylor of Langleys Solicitors in York, who acted on behalf of the County Council, said: “The Council demonstrated it was prepared to take a robust response to a fraudulent claim by instigating committal proceedings following a finding of fundamental dishonesty. Where appropriate, it is important that contempt cases are pursued to deter future fraudulent claims.”

This story was published 17 August 2018