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First criminal conviction for fraudulent claim resulted in a suspended sentence

  • Ireland
  • General

12-12-2013

DPP V RAYMOND SMITH

The first criminal prosecution in respect of a fraudulent claim under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (“the Act”, which applies to Personal Injury actions) came before Judge Mary Ellen Ring on Wednesday 11 December 2013 for sentencing.  Raymond Smith faced a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to €100,000.

Raymond Smith had been prosecuted and was convicted under the provisions of the Act.  He received a three year suspended sentence. He has a criminal conviction, but he will not spend any time in prison.  While this may seem like a lenient sentence it does set down a marker and a precedent, in that fraudulent personal injury claims will be prosecuted by the DPP.  In this case, the accused had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had fully co-operated with the Gardaí.  His personal circumstances were also taken into account by the Judge.

Judge Ring advised ‘’I impose 3 years on Count 1.  However, I suspend the full 3 years on his own bond of €200, so that he can pay the costs €12,194 which he owes. Should these (sic) offences be more frequent, the Court will not be as lenient.’’

Raymond Smith instituted a personal injury action in the Circuit Court following a road traffic accident.  In the Circuit Court the defendants were found liable and Mr Smith was awarded damages in respect of his alleged back injuries.  The case was appealed by the defendants to the High Court. During the appeal, the defendants presented evidence of him taking part in martial arts type physical activities, including ‘cage fighting’ competitions between the date of the crash and the High Court hearing.  To be physically capable of such was entirely at odds with the evidence as given by him in the Circuit Court.  The High Court found in the Defendant’s favour, awarded costs against Mr Smith and sent a file to the DPP.  Mr Smith was subsequently arrested and prosecuted, pursuant to the fraud provisions and criminal remedies outlined in the Act.

This case highlights the importance of investigating all personal injury actions, not just from a liability, causation and quantum perspective but also in terms of credibility and potential fraud.  The more reliable and the earlier relevant factual detail is received the greater the savings as can be made by the defendant.  

Disclaimer

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