Imprisonment for Claimant dishonest during her clinical negligence claim

In our article “Surveillance and Fundamental Dishonesty” from April 2018, we explained that the Court has power to dismiss the entirety of a claim if it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the Claimant has been “fundamentally dishonest” in relation to any aspect of the claim.

In addition to this, proceedings for contempt of Court may be brought against a person who makes or causes to be made a false statement in a document prepared in anticipation of or during proceedings and verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.  If found guilty of contempt of Court, the Court has the power to impose:

  • Imprisonment, either immediate or suspended, for a maximum of 2 years;
  • A fine, either on its own or in combination with imprisonment;
  • The confiscation of assets;
  • Any other punishment permitted by law.

The recent case of North Bristol NHS Trust v White [2022] EWHC 1313 (QB) heard last month involved a lady who, during her clinical negligence claim, “dishonestly and intentionally made false statements to four experts who were reporting to this Court on her physical condition… those statements were made knowing that they would interfere with the administration of justice by potentially increasing her entitlement to compensation arising from her increased clinical negligence claim.”  The Trust, who reportedly spent in the region of £350,000 as a result of her claim, brought proceedings for contempt of Court.  She was found to be in contempt of Court and sentenced to 6 months immediate imprisonment.

This case highlights that there are serious consequences for Claimants who are knowingly dishonest.  This is not the case for the vast majority of Claimants who are honest and genuine and is no reason not to pursue a clinical negligence claim.  The irony with Claimants found guilty of fundamental dishonesty is that they often have a valid claim and would have received compensation had they simply told the truth.

If you would like to discuss this further or think you may have a claim for medical negligence and would like some advice from one of our solicitors, please contact us on 01642 231110.

Kathryn Watson, June 2022