Fairclough Homes Ltd v Summers: SC 27 Jun 2012

The respondent had made a personal injury claim, but had then been discovered to have wildly and dishonestly exaggerated the damages claim. The defendant argued that the court should hand down some condign form of punishment, and appealed against refusal of a strike out of the claim. The Court of Appeal said that it was clearly bound by authority.
Held: Applications for committal for contempt are an appropriate means of controlling, punishing and as far as possible eliminating, dishonesty in the conduct of civil proceedings.
Lord Clarke said: ‘notwithstanding the decision and clear reasoning of the Court of Appeal in Ul-Haq, the court does have jurisdiction to strike out a statement of case under CPR 3.4(2) for abuse of process even after the trial of an action in circumstances where the court has been able to make a proper assessment of both liability and quantum. However, we further conclude, for many of the reasons given by the Court of Appeal, that, as a matter of principle, it should only do so in very exceptional circumstances.’
The court approved Masood v Zahoor, and ‘while the court has power to strike a claim out at the end of a trial, it would only do so if it were satisfied that the party’s abuse of process was such that he had thereby forfeited the right to have his claim determined.’
Lord Clarke JSC emphasised the importance of the Defendant’s ability, in a claim for damages, to make an offer on special terms as to costs: ‘There was much discussion in the course of the argument as to whether the defendant can protect its position in costs by making a Part 36 offer or some other offer which will provide appropriate protection. It was submitted that a Part 36 offer is of no real assistance because, if it is accepted, the defendant must pay the claimant’s costs under CPR 36.10. We accept the force of that argument. However, we see no reason why a defendant should not make a form of Calderbank offer (see Calderbank v Calderbank [1976] Fam 93) in which it offers to settle the genuine claim but at the same time offers to settle the issues of costs on the basis that the claimant will pay the defendant’s costs incurred in respect of the fraudulent or dishonest aspects of the case on an indemnity basis. In Fox v Foundation Piling Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 790 the Court of Appeal correctly accepted at para 45 that the parties were entitled to make a Calderbank offer outside the framework of Part 36. The precise formulation of such an offer would of course depend upon the facts of a particular case, but the offer would be made without prejudice save as to costs and, unless accepted, would thus be available to the defendant when the issue of costs came to be considered by the trial judge at the end of a trial.’.

Lord Hope, Deputy President , Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Dyson, Lord Reed
[2012] 1 WLR 2004, [2012] UKSC 26, [2012] 4 Costs LR 760, [2012] 4 All ER 317, UKSC 2010/0212
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC
Civil Procedure Rules 3.4(2) 32.14(1)
England and Wales
CitedArrow Nominees Inc and Another v Blackledge and Others CA 22-Jun-2000
A petition had been lodged alleging unfair prejudice in the conduct of the company’s affairs. The defendants alleged that when applying for relief under section 459, the claimants had attempted to pervert the course of justice by producing forged or . .
CitedWidlake v BAA Ltd CA 23-Nov-2009
The claimant had succeeded in her action for personal injuries, but now appealed against the awarding of costs to the defendant. The dispute had been substantialy as to the nature and effect of her injuries. She had not disclosed earlier injury to . .
Appeal fromSummers v Fairclough Homes Ltd CA 7-Oct-2010
The claimant was said to have fraudulently exaggerated the damages associated with a valid personal injury claim. The defendant argued that the claim should be struck out entirely as a punishment.
Held: The defendant’s appeal failed. The Court . .
CitedShah v Ul-Haq and Others CA 9-Jun-2009
The defendant appealed against a refusal to strike out the claimant’s action saying that the claimant had been involved in a fraud upon the court in an earlier associated claim.
Held: The Rule gave no power to strike out a claim on such a . .
CitedManifest Shipping Co Ltd v Uni-Polaris Shipping Co Ltd and Others HL 23-Jan-2001
The claimant took out insurance on its fleet of ships (the Star Sea). It had been laid up in its off season. The ship’s safety certificates were renewed before it sailed. It was damaged by fire. The insurers asserted that the ship had been . .
CitedAXA General Insurance Limited v Gottlieb CA 11-Feb-2005
The defendant made a claim under an insurance policy. The insurer made an interim payment, but then asserted that the claim was fraudulent, and sought recovery of the interim payment.
Held: At common law, fraud in an insurance claim, once . .
CitedAgapitos and Another v Agnew and others CA 6-Mar-2002
Insurers resisted a claim saying that fraudulent acts of the defendants to promote an otherwise valid claim, made the entire claim void. The insurance required certificates to be obtained before ‘hot’ works were undertaken as part of the ship’s . .
CitedGlasgow Navigation Co v Iron Ore Co HL 1910
Lord Lorebum said: ‘It is not the function of a court of law to advise the parties as to what would be their rights under a hypothetical state of facts’. . .
CitedWebster v Bakewell Rural District Council (No 2) 1916
The plaintiff was life tenant of a cottage adjoining the highway. Over a period of time, scrapings from the road had accumulated to form a bank which suited the plaintiff. The defendant, wanting to repair the roadway, removed the bank, and the . .
CitedLondon Borough of Harrow v Johnstone HL 13-Mar-1997
A possession action was lawful against a remaining joint tenant after a notice to terminate the tenancy had been given by the other tenant. An order against interference with possession of property did not extend to matters of the duration of the . .
CitedBentley v Jones Harris and Company CA 2-Nov-2001
Latham LJ said: ‘it will only be in a rare case that the judge should be asked to determine the issues before him before all the evidence has been completed. However, it seems to me that, if a judge concludes at the end of a claimant’s evidence, . .
ApprovedZahoor and Others v Masood and Others CA 3-Jul-2009
It was argued that the judge should have struck the claim out as an abuse of process on the ground that some at least of the claims were based on forged documents and false written and oral evidence.
Held: Arrow Nominees was authority for the . .
CitedGolder v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Feb-1975
G was a prisoner who was refused permission by the Home Secretary to consult a solicitor with a view to bringing libel proceedings against a prison officer. The court construed article 6 of ECHR, which provides that ‘in the determination of his . .
CitedAshingdane v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-May-1985
The right of access to the courts is not absolute but may be subject to limitations. These are permitted by implication since the right of access ‘by its very nature calls for regulation by the State, regulation which may vary in time and place . .
CitedPressos Compania Naviera S A And Others v Belgium ECHR 20-Nov-1995
When determining whether a claimant has possessions or property within the meaning of Article I the court may have regard to national law and will generally do so unless the national law is incompatible with the object and purpose of Article 1. Any . .
CitedThe Royal Brompton Hospital National Health Service Trust v Hammond and Others (No 5) CA 11-Apr-2001
When looking at an application to strike out a claim, the normal ‘balance of probabilities’ standard of proof did not apply. It was the court’s task to assess whether, even if supplemented by evidence at trial, the claimant’s claim was bound to fail . .
CitedAsiansky Television Plc and Another v Bayer-Rosin CA 19-Nov-2001
The court considered the circumstancs allowing a striking out.
Held: Consideration should be given to the question whether striking out the claim or defence would be disproportionate and, except perhaps where striking it out would be plainly . .
CitedFox v Foundation Piling Ltd CA 7-Jul-2011
Parties are entitled to make a Calderbank offer outside the framework of Part 36. The precise formulation of such an offer would of course depend upon the facts of a particular case, but the offer would be made without prejudice save as to costs . .
CitedAktas v Adepta CA 22-Oct-2010
The court was asked whether, when a claim was issued towards the very end of a limitation period, but was then not served, and the claim was struck out, CPR Part 7.5(1) gave a further four months in which it could be resurrected at the discretion of . .
ApprovedSouth Wales Fire and Rescue Service v Smith Admn 10-May-2011
Moses LJ said: ‘For many years, the court sought to underline how serious false and lying claims are to the administration of justice. False claims undermine a system whereby those who are injured as a result of the fault of their employer or a . .
ApprovedNational Westminster Bank Plc v Rabobank Nederland ComC 14-Nov-2006
On a request for a strike out the test in every case must be what is just and proportionate; and at para 62, as a postscript, that ‘nothing in this judgment affects the correct approach in a case where an application is made to strike out a . .

Cited by:
CitedMakudi v Baron Triesman of Tottenham In London Borough of Haringey QBD 1-Feb-2013
The claimant, former chairman of the Thailand Football Association, claimed in defamation against the defendant who had been chairman of the English Football Association. The defendant asked the court to strike out the claim, saying that some of the . .
CitedAirbus Operations Ltd v QBE Insurance Company (UK) Ltd and Another Admn 14-Dec-2012
The defendants sought to have the claimant committed for contempt, alleging that in exaggerating his symptoms, he had sought to inflate the amount of his damages claim.
Held: Contempt was found. Some of the allegations were found to have been . .
CitedOtkritie International Investment Management and Others v Urumov CA 14-Oct-2014
The claimants brought proceedings against several defendants. There had been a series of hearings conducted by a single judge leading to findings that several defendants had been involved in a fraud. The defendants sought recusal of that judge . .
CitedWyatt v Vince SC 11-Mar-2015
Long delayed ancillary relief application proceeds
The parties had divorced some 22 years before, but no ancillary relief order had been made to satisfy the application outlined in the petition. The parties when together had lived in relative poverty, but H had subsequently become wealthy. W applied . .
CitedLondon Borough of Havering, Regina (on The Application of) v Bowyer and Others Admn 27-Jul-2012
The court considered the sentencing of defendants for making false claims.
Held: The defendants each received immediate sentences of imprisonment ranging from one month to four months. . .
CitedHayward v Zurich Insurance Company Plc SC 27-Jul-2016
The claimant had won a personal injury case and the matter had been settled with a substantial payout by the appellant insurance company. The company now said that the claimant had grossly exaggerated his injury, and indeed wasfiully recovered at . .
AppliedTuson v Murphy CA 22-Jun-2018
The claimant won her personal injury case, but appealed from an order to pay the defendant’s costs after she had failed to declare her attempt to begin a business.
Held: The Claimant’s modest attempts to run a playgroup did not amount to . .
CitedTurley v Unite The Union and Another QBD 19-Dec-2019
Defamation of Labour MP by Unite and Blogger
The claimant now a former MP had alleged that a posting on a website supported by the first defendant was false and defamatory. The posting suggested that the claimant had acted dishonestly in applying online for a category of membership of the . .
CitedHughes Jarvis Limited v Searle Misc 27-Apr-2018
(Oxford County Court) An application was made for the committal for contempt of a party. The court had adjourned overnight while he was giving evidence, and despite being warned against communicating with anyone else, had sent numerous emails to his . .
CitedHughes Jarvis Ltd v Searle and Another CA 15-Jan-2019
The claimant and director appealed from orders associated with a finding of contempt of court. The Director, the case having been adjourned overnight during the course of his evidence, and despite warnings to the contrary had sought to communicate . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Litigation Practice, Civil Procedure Rules, Contempt of Court, Costs

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.460911