Judge throws out factory worker’s claim of hearing loss after finding it was ‘fundamentally dishonest’ in a move that could pave the way for a fight back from insurance firms
- Factory worker said bosses at his firm were responsible for his hearing loss because he claimed they did not give him adequate protection
- Now will be fined for bringing a ‘fundamentally dishonest’ claim to court
- If he had been successful he would have been awarded around £10,000
- Industrial deafness claims in UK increased by 200% from 2011 to 2014
The growing market for hearing loss compensation has been dealt a blow after a judge said a factory worker’s claim was ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and threw out the case in a landmark ruling.
Judge Gregory also ordered the man, who was employed by Coventry-based Diamanttek Limited as a diamond driller and a plant operator between 2003 and 2013, to pay costs following the ruling.
Jonathon James, who is in his mid-fifties, had claimed that Diamanttek Limited was responsible for his noise-induced hearing loss.
Judge Gregory also ordered the man, who was employed by Coventry-based Diamanttek Limited (pictured) as a diamond driller and a plant operator between 2003 and 2013, to pay costs following the ruling
But the court heard while Diamanttek Limited did not deny that the claimant worked in a noisy environment, they disputed the issue of hearing protection provision and enforcement.
James had claimed the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not enforced prior to 2013 and that until then he had not been given any training on the correct use of hearing protection.
He also said that bosses did not give him any warnings about the dangers of noise exposure.
But Diamanttek Limited’s insurers, Allianz, were able to prove that James was supplied with PPE throughout the entire period of his employment and in court denied the company’s liability.
LITTLE KNOWN LAW COULD SEE HUGE CHANGES IN COMPENSATION
New rules introduced by the Criminal Justice & Courts Act published in April 2015 are finally coming into affect.
Under section 44.16 CPR, the court is permitted to set aside QOCS (Qualified One Way Costs Shifting) protection in cases that are found to be fundamentally dishonest – like the one involving Diamanttek and James.
Under CPR 44.16: ‘Orders for costs made against the claimant may be enforced to the full extent of such orders with the permission of the court where the claim is found on the balance of probabilities to be fundamentally dishonest.’
‘Fundamental dishonesty’ is not a usual legal term – but it is clearly termed in this way in order to fight fraudulent claims.
Insurers hope the ruling will put an end to spurious hearing loss claims and said they hope it will serve as a warning that fraudulent claims can ‘cost dear’.
The Times reports the ruling is the first time, under a new regime brought in by ministers last year, that courts have penalised individuals whose claims are found to be dishonest by ordering them to pay costs.
The newspaper reports that industrial deafness claims have increased by nearly 200 per cent from 2011 to 2014 and they are now rivalling whiplash claims.
If James’ claim had been successful he would have been awarded around £10,000 in compensation.
Sarah Mallaby, head of technical claims at Allianz, said her company deals with around 5,200 noise related claims every year, and called the ruling ‘great news’.
She said: ‘We are delighted that as a result of Allianz’s appeal the first fundamental dishonesty ruling has been made against a noise induced hearing loss claim.
‘The outcome of this case is great news for the insurance industry. It underpins the principles of the law reforms which came into force in 2013 and we believe that this should now set a precedent for future disease claims.’
Rob Cummings, of the Association of British Insurers, told The Times: ‘Insurers have seen a spike in opportunistic claims for noise-induced hearing loss, fuelled by greedy claimant lawyers and claims management companies.’