Accident Exchange has launched a second investigation into further alleged car hire rate fraud carried out by Autofocus, six years after the company exposed the fraud perpetrated by Autofocus on behalf of defendant solicitors and their insurer clients.
Autofocus has been found to have provided dishonest rate evidence in tens of thousands of cases that were litigated. Permission was given by the Divisional Court to apply to commit seven former Autofocus employees to prison in February 2012 and, on 30 July this year, Lord Justice Laws dismissed an application from four of the seven to strike out the claims against them, saying that “there is a substantial case to the effect that the course of justice has been comprehensively perverted up and down the country”.
While that matter proceeds towards trial, Accident Exchange Chief Executive Steve Evans has started a fresh investigation as a result of concerns identified from reviewing more than 100 statements regarding the cost of hire deployed by insurers in the last month alone.
These concerns include individuals deliberately concealing documents that challenge the evidence in their own witness statement; refusals to disclose transcripts of telephone conversations with hire companies; and entire witness statements predicated on evidence of available hire rates, which the maker knows cannot be true.
“The Autofocus matter will now proceed and I would not want to say anything to prejudice the right of the seven to a fair trial,” said Evans.
“However, it’s rather pathetic that the abhorrent behaviour that polluted the legal system between 2007 and 2010 has re-emerged as normal business for some defendant solicitors and insurers.
“In 2009, insurers claimed that they were deceived by Autofocus and didn’t know the evidence deployed on their behalf was dishonest. In 2015, there is no excuse for those same insurers – and their instructed solicitors – to be relying on similarly dishonest rate evidence.
“You really would think with the insurance industry’s continual claims about the importance of eliminating fraud that those solicitors commissioning and paying for this evidence would have made sure that it was fit to be put before the courts as honest, complete and reliable.”