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Case Note: Hussain v Hussain and Aviva UK Insurance Limited

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Court of Appeal made an important judgement on 23 October in relation to the case of Hussain v Hussain and Another [2012]. The importance of the case rested on the weight given to the defendant’s previously fraudulent behaviour where there was suspicion that he had deliberately ‘staged’ a road traffic accident and the ‘very powerful inferences’ that this implied on the claimant.

Hussain v Hussain Facts

On 7 January 2009 the claimant, Mr Basharat Hussain, was involved in an accident with the first defendant, Mr Adil Hussain; the two men were unrelated. The defendant had collided with the claimant on a roundabout where the claimant had right of way. The claimant alleged negligence on behalf of the defendant and made a claim against him and his insurance company, Aviva for £5,000 in respect of repairs to the car and some miscellaneous expenses. In defence, Aviva alleged that the collision had been staged and the claim was fraudulent.

Hussain v Hussain Initial Judgement

In the initial judgement in Bradford County Court, Judge Spencer QC found in favour of Aviva and dismissed the claim awarding costs to Aviva on an indemnity basis because:

  • The first defendant had taken out an insurance policy for his car only two days earlier using an address at which he subsequently could not be located.
  • Aviva had an arrangement for people making a Hire Purchase Information ("HPI") check before buying a used car – if the vehicle was HPI clear the person might want immediate insurance if they decided to acquire the car so Aviva offered seven days' free insurance from that time.
  • The collision occurred only two days after the insurance was purchased by the first defendant.
  • There had allegedly been a significant number of collisions involving use of the same car accident businesses within a short period under the same HPI scheme.
  • In respect of the claimant’s medical records, there was not a single entry which related to a road traffic collision.
  • The natural inferences to draw from application of the rule 'follow the money' were that the claimant was the most obvious beneficiary of a fraudulent claim.

The judge found that it was, "as plain as a pikestaff that there was dishonest mischief afoot", particularly in respect of the first defendant.

Hussain v Hussain Appeal

The Appeal judges allowed the appeal. Judge Spencer QC had attached too much weight to his ‘follow the money’ rule which would not necessarily apply if the first defendant wanted to claim against his own insurers, for example. They also disagreed that the limited medical records were conclusive of adverse credibility on behalf of the claimant. In conclusion, they held that the two factors cited were not sufficiently cogent to justify an inference of fraudulent complicity on the part of the claimant in a staged collision.

If you would like further information about this case or wish to discuss a potential or current claim, we have experienced lawyers who can help you. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.

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