In a ‘phantom passenger’ case that ultimately reached an appeal, it was found that the claimant lied about the number of passengers with him when an Aviva policyholder reversed into his vehicle. However, the whiplash claim – worth £4,400 in damages – was not dismissed at first instance because the claims of the ‘others’, who had claims notification forms but did not issue proceedings, weren’t considered related claims.
Representing Aviva, international law firm DAC Beachcroft filed an appeal and argued that the pre-issue claims of the supposed others were related claims for the purposes of s57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.
Judge Melissa Clarke agreed, ruling that the definition of “related claim” in s57(8) encompassed the pre-issue claims that had been submitted to the insurer. The appeal judge dismissed the claim, as well as ordering the claimant to pay Aviva’s costs for the entire action.
“We are delighted with HHJ Clarke’s judgment,” commented Catherine Burt, head of counter fraud at DAC Beachcroft. “Had pre-issue claims been excluded from the definition of related claims, this would have significantly diluted the impact of s57 CJCA 2015. This is precisely the type of claim the legislation was intended to address.”
As for Aviva, it commended the “tough action” against the dishonest claimant.
“Phantom passengers are seen as an easy way for fraudsters to increase the payout from a claim, so it’s great to see the Court take tough action,” said Aviva casualty claims head Rob Lee. “Bogus claims such as this only increase premiums for honest motorists and so we will continue to fight for justice.”