LITIGATION – False information provided in personal injury claim leads to criminal prosecution

Giving false and misleading evidence in the course of a personal injury action may not only result in a case being dismissed but may also lead to a criminal conviction.

Section 26(1) of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that a Court is to dismiss a personal injury action where a plaintiff knowingly gives false or misleading evidence in any material respect.

The Act also provides for a criminal offence under section 29 carrying a substantial maximum penalty of a fine up to €100,000 and ten years imprisonment.
In 2013 the first conviction under section 29 was made for providing false and misleading information in the context of a personal injury claim.

Mr Raymond Smith had previously been awarded damages in the Circuit Court arising from a Road Traffic Accident in 2009. During the case he claimed he suffered from a debilitating back injury as a result of the accident and was awarded €7,500 by the Circuit Court.

However on appeal to the High Court the Defendant presented the court with DVDs showing the plaintiff partaking in cage fighting competitions between the date of the accident and the court case.

The High Court ruled in favour of the defendant and awarded them their costs. The court also directed that the details of the matter be provided to the DPP for investigation.

Mr Smith received a three year suspended sentence with the judge stating that an example should be made of plaintiffs “willing to make false claims for financial reward”.

The case is indicative of the increased efforts the law has made in recent years in tackling false claims and should act as a deterrent to any potential litigant from over-exaggerating their injuries.