Personal injury firm Barber & Co Solicitors could face police investigation after a judge said a number of criminal offences may have been committed through the firm in relation to a claim filed for a non-client.
“These include fraud in making a false claim for compensation, forgery of a medical report, and engaging in acts tending to pervert the course of justice. These are serious allegations, if substantiated,” read Judge Peter Hughes QC’s judgment.
Judge Hughes said, “I am going to direct that copies of this judgment be supplied to the Lancashire
Police and to the Crown Prosecution Service for Lancashire
so that they can decide whether the matter merits further investigation.”
The collision took place in 2011 in Leicestershire between a car driven by the claimant – identified as Mr Dickson – and a tractor insured by NFU Mutual Insurance Services Limited. Real injuries were sustained; the trouble is that two Claim Notification Forms (CNFs) were received from two different solicitors.
The first was from Barber & Co, supported by a medical report from a Dr Laxmi Patel. The second CNF was from Mellor Hargreaves, with a medical report from a Dr Zahir Ali.
By the time proceedings were issued in court by Mellor Hargreaves on behalf of the claimant, the insurer had already agreed to settle Dickson’s claim with Barber & Co. That’s when it came to light that there were two representatives for the claimant, and one had to be a fake – which is alleged to be the Preston firm.
“It is now accepted by Barber that Mr Dickson was never their client, that they had no authority to act on his behalf, that he was never medically examined by Dr Patel, and that the report was a forgery,” read the judgment.
A report by The Law Society Gazette said the law firm blamed two non-qualified fee earners – who had left the firm – for the fraudulent acts.
“The firm is obviously disappointed with the outcome of the case which revolved around two non-qualified fee earners creating false documentation and representing client(s) without proper instructions,” said Barber & Co in a statement, as quoted by the report.
For the judge, though, there were indications that the two could not have been acting covertly – unless they also had control of the firm’s finances.
“This is because the NFU had been asked to make the settlement cheque out to Barber, and so it would have had to pass through the firm’s accounts,” read the judgment.
Describing the firm as evasive, Judge Hughes said: “What is abundantly clear, though, is that Barber have constantly stalled and obfuscated, and have failed to assist those acting for the claimant and the defendant [NFU] to resolve the position. This has materially delayed the resolution of the claim and added significantly to the costs.”
Barber & Co said it “welcomes any investigations in order to exonerate the firm.”
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