Kerry Underwood

COURT HAS POWER TO COMMIT FOR CONTEMPT DURING PROTOCOL

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The matters dealt with in this piece are examined in great detail in my three volume, 1,300 page book Personal Injury Small Claims, Portals and Fixed Costs – price £50 and available from Underwoods Solicitors here.

Kerry Underwood offers consultancy services in relation to this and other matters and details are here.

 

In

Jet 2 Holidays Ltd v Hughes & Anor [2019] EWCA Civ 1858 (08 November 2019)

the Court of Appeal held that false statements in a witness statement verified by a statement of truth, made by a prospective claimant, in purported compliance with a pre-action protocol, can give rise to contempt and be the subject of an application for committal for contempt, even though proceedings were never issued.

The defendants allegedly falsely claimed that they had had food poisoning while on a holiday arranged by the claimant and notified the claimant of their claims under the Personal Injury pre-action protocol.

The claimant obtained evidence that the defendants’ claims were untrue and rejected them, and the defendants did not commence proceedings.

The claimant sought an order for the defendants to be committed for contempt.

The lower court judge held that he had no jurisdiction to commit for contempt because, reading together CPR 32.14 and CPR 22, his jurisdiction extended only to witness statements served during the course of proceedings commenced under CPR 7.2 (paragraphs 16-21, judgment).

The Court of Appeal held that the court has an inherent power to commit for contempt irrespective of the CPR (CPR 81.2(3) and Practice Direction 81.5.7;

Malgar Ltd v RE Leach (Engineering) Ltd [1999] EWHC 843 (Ch)

and

Griffin v Griffin [2000] EWCA Civ 119.

It is well established that an act might be a contempt of court even if carried out before proceedings had begun.

The defendants’ conduct interfered with the due administration of justice and the parties’ solicitors believed that they were engaged in complying with the Personal Injury Claims pre-action protocol.

The defendants’ actions intended to give the claimant the impression that the defendants were serious about their case.

Pre-action protocols are “now an integral and highly important part of litigation architecture”.

Producing dishonest witness statement contravenes the Pre-Action Conduct Practice Direction paragraph 4 prohibition against a pre-action protocol and the Practice Direction being used as a tactical device to secure an unfair advantage.

The Court of Appeal said that it was unfortunate both that the situation in the present case fell outside CPR 32.14 and that an application to the Administrative Court for permission to bring contempt proceedings had been required under CPR 81.13(2).

It said that the Civil Procedure Rule Committee should examine the matter.

 

Comment

Quite right. If you engage in any process bringing a claim that you know to be false, you should go to prison.

Simple.

Written by kerryunderwood

November 19, 2019 at 7:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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