By: 12 August 2013

Accident Exchange has succeeded in the first retrial in a dishonest Autofocus evidence case involving AXA.


Held on 7 August, Business Integration UK Ltd v AXA was heard by HHJ Kay QC in Slough County Court, where judgment was given for the value of the hire charges claimed in the appeal resulting in a further payment to Accident Exchange of £468.80.


In the original hearing in July 2009, AXA relied on the dishonest evidence of Autofocus which influenced the Judge in making her initial award of £553 for four days hire of a replacement Mercedes E320.


In the retrial AXA relied on new rate evidence provided by SG Consultancy, which had acquired the Autofocus business from the liquidator in 2010. However the judge rejected its evidence because it failed to discharge the burden of proof on the defendant as to what the market rate to hire a Mercedes E320 would have been at the time of the accident in December 2007.


Accident Exchange had made two earlier offers to settle the retrial, in April and July, and both offers were for a sum lower than the amount awarded by the trial judge.


Given that AXA now has to pay costs on the indemnity basis, it is estimated that the costs for the whole appeal and retrial will exceed £40,000.


HHJ Kay QC expressed concern that the case was wasting the time of a Designated Civil Judge in a busy Court when the amount of damages sought were for just a few hundred pounds.


Steve Evans, chief executive of Accident Exchange said that he shared the Judge's view.


"Whatever grand plan AXA has in play, it's not working and someone there needs to wake up and smell the coffee. I am now writing to the group chairman at AXA to highlight what is fast becoming a reckless and unforgivable waste of shareholder funds in pursuing a broken strategy which has no moral, legal, commercial or financial sense."


"AXA should have been out of this dispute years ago. Aside from the fact that their evidence in the first trial was found wanting, to get it wrong the second time around, to ignore two offers to settle for a lower sum and to face the costs they now face on a £500 claim is almost farcical," he said.