The fundamental dishonesty clause, proposed by the government, has been passed through the House of Lords.
Despite staunch opposition from the Labour party, Clause 45 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill was moved over to the House of Lords last night, with peers agreeing to it last week.
Speaking to the peers, the Justice Minister, Lord Faulks, said: “The government simply do not believe that people who behave in a fundamentally dishonest way by grossly exaggerating their own claim or colluding should be allowed to benefit by getting compensation in spite of their deceit.”
Labour’s strongest grudge to bear over Clause 45, was that there was no similar piece of legislation running parallel to this one to account for defendants who are deemed to have shown fundamental dishonesty during the claim.
This was a point that Lord Faulks dismissed, saying: “A defence which has no merit can be struck out, and there are a number of ways in which a defendant who behaves dishonestly can be penalised, for example, through an adverse costs order or through action for contempt or fraud.”
There were also attacks on the Clause from the Conservative side, as Tory peer, Lord Hunt of Wirral, who is also a partner at DAC Beachcroft and Chair of the British Insurance Brokers Associations, argued for the bill to be amended to remove the word fundamental as dishonest was fundamental by nature,. He went on to point the finger at advertisements for personal injury, claiming that they were giving people the impression they could get free money through making claims.
He said: “Claimants and it is always claimants, see that there is no real penalty for trying on either that they have been injured at all or a deliberate exaggeration of the symptoms that they have suffered.”
The Bill will now go back to the Commons for consideration of amendments before being brought into official law.