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The strike out jurisdiction lives on

The Supreme Court in Fairclough Homes v Summers [2012] UKSC 26 held that it was only in "very exceptional circumstances" that a case would be struck out at trial for fraudulent exaggeration (and the case of Mr Summers did not fit into that category and hence was not struck out). But this narrow jurisdiction has been exercised by a first instance Court already.

In a recent decision in the Central London County Court, in Fari v Homes for Haringey, on 10th October 2012, HHJ Mitchell accepted that the claim involved an attempt to deceive the court and, as the award of damages would be very small, it was just the type of case envisaged by the Supreme Court in paragraph 49 of its judgment. The claim was for in excess of £740,000, mainly for care, based on a claimed knee injury from tripping on uneven paving, for which liability was admitted. Surveillance revealed gross exaggeration and the medical experts agreed that the injury would have resulted in a minor aggravation and acceleration of two to three months of a pre-existing knee condition. The Judge considered that the appropriate award would be no more than £1,500, less than 0.5% of the pleaded value of the case. In those circumstances the Judge considered that the claim was an abuse of process and that it was “just and proportionate” to strike the whole claim out (including the genuine part). The claimant was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs and the matter was transferred to the High Court so that contempt proceedings could be brought against the claimant and her husband who supported the claimant’s claims for care.

It will require some more first instance decisions to see where the boundaries of this jurisdiction lie, but this is a useful example of when it may be exercised.