Section 57 of the Criminal Justice & Courts Act 2015 is a potential cause concern for Claimants and their Solicitors. This Act came into force on 13th April 2015.
This clause allows the Court to dismiss a personal injury claim if it is satisfied that the Claimant has been “fundamentally dishonest” during the case even where the Court finds that the Claimant is entitled to damages in respect of the claim. The Court must now dismiss the primary claim unless it is satisfied that the Claimant would suffer substantial injustice if the claim were dismissed. Where the Court dismisses the claim the Court must record the amount of damages the Court would have awarded to the Claimant in respect of the primary claim but for the dismissal of the claim. A Costs Order made by the Court which dismisses the claim may require the Claimant to pay costs incurred by the Defendant only to the extent that they exceed the amount of damages that the Court would have awarded. Therefore the “qualified one-way costs shifting” rules will not apply.
In the circumstances, we believe that Personal Injury solicitors need to advise their clients of this legislation and, if necessary, amend their client care letters. A clause needs to be added to the “Your Responsibilities” part of any CFA documentation to make sure than an entitlement to costs is preserved where a client has been “fundamentally dishonest”.