By: 6 May 2015
Horwich Farrelly disputes claims made by new APIL president over ‘fundamental dishonesty’

Horwich Farrelly has said that recent comments made by Jonathan Wheeler, the new President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), in relation to section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, betray “a lack of understanding amongst some personal injury lawyers” about the impact of fraud on honest policyholders.

In a speech made on 23 April, Wheeler criticised the “fundamental dishonesty” clause in section 57 of the Act, arguing that it didn’t target dishonest defences from insurers. However, Horwich Farrelly has responded to Wheeler’s complaint by saying that the enhanced legal powers handed to the courts aim to close the net on fraudsters and are “a charter for honest policyholders”.

“The insurance industry is facing a real threat from fraudulent claims and the courts appreciate that being lenient on proven fraudsters is hardly fair to honest citizens,” said Ronan McCann, a fraud partner at Horwich Farrelly.

“Defendants who raise a defence without merit can rightly expect to have their case thrown out and be penalised though Part 36 and Indemnity costs. I do not accept Mr Wheeler’s suggestion that insurers would dishonestly raise a defence in the hope that a claimant would die before settlement. His comments illustrate a lack of understanding amongst some personal injury lawyers about the impact of fraud on honest policyholders.

McCann said that the real problem wasn’t insurers trying to get out of paying claims, but the cost of fraud raising premiums for everyone.

“Unfortunately due to the sheer volume of insurance fraud we are left in a position where all claimants have their claims carefully scrutinised to ensure they are genuine.”

Although this sometimes caused friction, McCann added that no-one should criticise insurers when they were correctly using all the tools at their disposal to tackle and prevent fraudulent claims.

“We should welcome the changes introduced by the CJCA as they will inevitably mean honest policyholders will get better value from their insurance cover,” he said.