Appeal lodged in "Azimi Group of Cases"
In September 2013, Associate James Stevens, reported on his success in this group of cases. Staged accidents: similar fact evidence - Operation Percutter
James was instructed by QBE, RSA and KGM Insurance to investigate and defend claims arising from seventeen road traffic accidents that the Insurers believed formed part of an organised fraud (Operation Percutter) involving deliberately induced road traffic collisions in the London area. Thirteen of these cases were successfully repudiated. The remaining four cases were case managed together and the trials heard consecutively by His Honour Judge Mitchell in the Central London County Court on 21 August 2013.
Our investigations identified over 50 road traffic accidents, across the insurance industry that were linked to this scam. During the course of the litigation DWF submitted similar fact evidence detailing the links between the incidents and claims and furthermore the surveillance taken by the Metropolitan Police, so as to provide the Judge with the full picture as to the extent and wide scale nature of this fraud. Key to our success in that case was the Judge’s preparedness to accept similar fact evidence. Permission to appeal was refused by HHJ Mitchell.
In February 2014 The Nesbit Law Group, acting for all Claimants, applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal.
Grounds of Appeal
The following grounds were cited:
The finding that each of the Claimants was a fraudster was one that no Judge properly weighing the evidence, could reasonably have arrived.
The Judge wrongly considered all of the Claimants collectively.
The Judge wrongly placed reliance upon the similar fact evidence submitted by the Defendants.
The Judge wrongly placed reliance on the involvement of the Director in the police surveillance footage.
The Judge failed to properly assess the overall cogency of the evidence.
The Appeal was considered on paper by the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Lloyd Jones in early August 2014. In all 4 cases the Appeal Judge refused permission and cited the following points, common to all cases:
The central issue was the credibility of the witnesses. The trial judge had the advantage of seeing and hearing the witnesses give their evidence;
There was an abundance of evidence to support the Judge’s conclusions that each incident was fraudulently induced. Consequently the submission that no judge properly weighing the evidence and properly directing himself to the law could have concluded that the claimant was fraudulent is untenable;
The judge made clear at the outset of his Judgment that he had reached conclusions on each case based solely on the evidence in the particular case. However having come to his conclusions on that basis, he was clearly entitled to refer to the overall picture which provided further compelling support for his conclusions.
There was evidence in each case that either the Claimant or his/her passengers were not occupying the alleged non fault vehicle at the time of the accident.
In those circumstances the appeal has no real prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard.
The Nesbit Law Group have now lodged an application, requesting that the Appeal Court’s decision be reconsidered at a hearing pursuant to CPR r.52.4.
It will be of interest to practitioners that use of similar facts evidence has been endorsed by such a senior member of the judiciary, but His Lordship’s comments also reinforce the need to have the right substantive evidence, over and above any similar fact evidence submitted that might be submitted (in the instant case His Lordship concluded that there was an abundance of evidence which supported the contention that the Claimant deliberately induced the collision).
The hearing of the Claimant’s application, before the Court of Appeal has been listed for 9 March 2015 and further commentary will follow after that hearing has taken place.
For further information, please contact James Stevens, Associate on 0161 603 5186 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.