Kennedys has warned the House of Lords that rushing through the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill could lead to dangerous unintended consequences.
The firm is particularly concerned about clause 49 of the Bill, which allows for the dismissal of a claim should it be found that the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest in relation to the primary claim, or a related one.
In a briefing sent to the House of Lords, Kennedys has argued that the Bill represents “a scalpel and not a hammer-blow in the continuing fight against fraudulent claims”.
The firms has argues that the objectives of the bill an already be achieved by existing measures and that legally defining fundamental dishonesty risks would create too rigid a framework, which fraudsters would seek to exploit.
Kennedys also said that the move could create unrealistic fears about claimants who may be suspected of dishonesty due to over embellishment by their claimant lawyer.
Martin Stockdale, a partner at the firm, said that it was important that clause 49 was drafted clearly to avoid ambiguity.
“It is important to ensure that speed in achieving the proposed measure is not to the detriment of clarity or genuinely effective counter-fraud measures,” he said.
“By allowing the exercise of judicial discretion, it is imperative that the overriding message delivered by the judiciary in considering fundamental dishonesty, is that the intention to mislead or cheat is the focus of the decision – regardless of how ‘important’ the lie is to the claim.”