In the recent case of Nusrat v Gibbs Transport, I acted on behalf of the defendant company in a trial listed on the multi-track at Central London County Court for 2 days. The claim arose out of a road traffic accident on 10/05/09 whereby the defendant driver in a lorry ran into the back of the claimant’s vehicle on the North Circular. The issues related to the claimant’s credibility as he had an RTA/claims history, a subsequent claim from an accident on 15/09/09 had been repudiated pre-issue on the grounds of fraud and his vehicle had previously been a Category B write off.
On the day of trial the claimant’s counsel made an application to have an interpreter for the claimant. Two interpreters had attended before when the matter was listed for trial in Barnet CC in November 2011 - that was adjourned to allow the defendant to conduct further investigations and amend their defence to plead fraud.
HHJ Lamb QC found there were no statements of truth from an interpreter on the two witness statements relied on by the claimant or on his reply to the Amended Defence which had been signed by him personally. On that basis the evidence from the claimant could not be relied on and the claimant had failed to draft the witness statement in accordance with CPR 32.4.5 and it could not be said that the statements were in his own words. It was crucial in cases where fraud/credibility was in issue that the defendant should know the case it had to meet and the claimant’s evidence in detail. The crux of the defendant’s case revolved around the veracity of the claimant’s evidence and cross examination of the same.
HHJ stated that the claimant’s solicitors ought to have known he needed an interpreter for his statement as two had been present at the earlier trial and they had failed to properly comply with the order for witness statements to be exchanged by order dated 25/01/12. The contention by the claimant’s counsel that the interpreter translate statements to the claimant while he was in the witness box was unsatisfactory and denied the defendant their right to know what the claimant relied on in his case.
HHJ found the claimant was in breach of CPR 1.3 - they had not assisted the court and he struck out the claim under CPR 3.4.2(C). The failure to translate/interpret the claimant’s evidence was a fundamental breach of the rules in this case. The defendant was awarded costs on an indemnity basis after the notice of trial and on a standard basis before that date.