The Supreme Court has ruled that a claim which is fraudulently exaggerated can be reopened if new evidence of fraud comes to light after the settlement.
In Zurich Insurance Company plc v Hayward, the Court’s judgment, which was unanimous, is likely to be of great significance for insurance companies who have active anti-fraud strategies, according to the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL).
FOIL says that the judgment has sent a strong message to anyone who exaggerates a personal injury claim, reaches a settlement with their insurer but then is later (possibly some years) found to have lied about the extent of their injury.
Catherine Burt, a spokesperson for FOIL and head of counter fraud at DAC Beachcroft Claims, the lawyers for Zurich Insurance, said: “This decision confirms that fraud does unravel all. Insurance companies will be free to revisit settlements made before hard evidence of fraud comes to light and will be able to pursue those who thought they had got away with it.
“The guiding principle of this judgment – and indeed that of the Versloot Judgment of last week – is whether any lie told by the claimant is material or not. Given the introduction of the duty of the Courts to strike out fundamentally dishonest claims under s 57 Criminal Courts and Justice Act 2015, the risk that any lie about the claim may bring down the whole claim is one which no genuine Claimant should want (or need) to take.”