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Published 13 October 2020
Following on from our recent session on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (“ANPR”) at our Vehicle Hire & Damage Conference where we discussed various strategy issues, we have compiled a selection of our successful outcomes utilising ANPR which highlight the range of ways in which ANPR can be put to use.
The cases range from using ANPR to negotiate a substantial reduction in credit hire claims all the way through to defeating a claim in full highlighting the risk of a finding of Fundamental Dishonesty where the credit hire claim features alongside a claim for personal injury.
The use of ANPR is still relatively new in insurance claims and a definitive case is awaited to test judicial appetites on the issues. However, over the Summer of 2020 we had a number of cases where ANPR has proven of interest to judges whether at Case Management Conferences or Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings. It is clear that as we move into 2021 even more issues pertaining to ANPR will be put before judges and this investigative tool is likely to move to the fore in its use of evidence to defend claims.
This is a claim which arose following a road traffic accident in November 2018. The heads of loss included credit hire, storage and personal injury. The accident circumstances were straightforward and liability was admitted. A without prejudice payment was made in respect of vehicle damage prior to our instruction.
During preliminary investigations it was revealed that there were multiple ANPR hits during the credit hire and storage period and so it followed that the Claimant’s vehicle was in use when it ought not to have been. The next step in the strategy was to try to evidence whose possession the vehicle was in. If the vehicle was in the possession of the Claimant then, given the claim included personal injury, a defence that the claim was Fundamentally Dishonesty would follow and the Defendant could apply to strike out any genuine heads of loss pursuant to section 57 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.
The ANPR evidence was disclosed to the Claimant’s Solicitors. The Claimant also disclosed financial documentation as part of disclosure to evidence his averment that he was impecunious. DAC Beachcroft cross-referenced the ANPR evidence with the financial documentation and noted that a number of financial transactions in the Claimant’s bank statements matched with the date and location of the ANPR hits.
Despite the mounting evidence, the Claimant maintained that he had not driven his vehicle during the hire period and the storage company maintained that the vehicle was in storage. The Claimant’s Solicitors initially offered to discontinue the claim for special damages before requesting our consent to discontinue the whole claim, a week or so prior to trial. Before we had had the opportunity of responding to the request to discontinue, the Court struck out the claim as the Claimant’s Solicitors had failed to pay the listing fee. Savings on the claim were in excess of £13,000.
We are now taking steps to set Qualified One Way Costs Shifting aside due to the claim being Fundamentally Dishonest as well as seeking to bring the storage company into proceedings for the purpose of costs on the basis that the storage invoice is tainted by fraud.
The claim arose from a road traffic accident in June 2019. Liability was admitted, there was an issue with the presented hire claim. The Claimant was claiming for credit hire charges throughout June 2019 yet there was evidence that the vehicle was clearly in use as the vehicle had been captured on ANPR cameras.
The vehicle shown on the ANPR photographs was identifiable, as the index accident vehicle, due to the fact that the vehicle still had the same damage present. There were also issues with the presented hire agreement. DAC Beachcroft were able to secure an order from the Court as part of the Court directions requiring the Claimant to respond to ANPR evidence in his witness evidence but the Claimant failed to do so.
At a recent Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearing Counsel successfully argued that the claim should be struck out due to the Claimant’s failure to deal with the ANPR evidence in his witness evidence. It was our position that we could not have a fair trial, as we had already served our evidence by way of exchange. If the Claimant were permitted to respond at this stage he could tailor his evidence around what he knew of the Defendant’s evidence. The Court accepted this and struck out the claim ordering £3,000 costs in our favour, despite this being a small claim, due to the Claimant’s conduct.
DAC Beachcroft were instructed to defend a claim for hire following a road traffic accident which occurred in January 2019. The insurer had agreed and paid the vehicle damage and the personal injury elements of the claim. However, the hire remained outstanding and the Claimant issued Part 8 proceedings as liability had been admitted in the MOJ Portal.
The hire remained in dispute because there were multiple recordings of the vehicle on ANPR.
Despite our Acknowledgment of Service seeking transfer to Part 7 the Court listed the matter for a Part 8 hearing. We advanced an Application to the Court to transfer the matter to Part 7. With the Application we exhibited the ANPR statement as compelling evidence as to the need to transfer the matter.
As a result of the Application made by DAC Beachcroft, the Claimant’s Solicitors approached us and requested that we agree for them to discontinue on a drop hands basis.
The Defendant agreed to the discontinuance as whilst we had the ANPR evidence the Claimant case was that the vehicle did not belong to him and he leased the vehicle. Following the accident the Claimant said that he had handed the vehicle back to the lease company for repairs to be carried out. The Claimant’s evidence was that he then handed the hire car back when the lease car was repaired and returned to him.
Given the unusual ownership aspect of this claim and the fact that the chronology of the hire and repairs did not give a clear indication as to who was in possession of the damaged vehicle at the time of the ANPR hits, there was a clear risk that the Court could find that the Claimant was not using the vehicle. Given the litigation risks and the fact that the drop-hands offer was made early in proceedings the insurer in this matter decided to accept the offer.
The matter arose out of an RTA that occurred in January 2019. The Claimant claimed for credit hire at nearly £31,000 and £1,116.00 with respect of the pre-accident value (PAV).
It was accepted that the accident occurred and liability was admitted. The key concern on the case was the ANPR evidence held. The Defendant had a number of ANPR images showing the Claimant’s vehicle was in use on at least 9 occasions within the hire period. We attempted to deal with the issue early on in the case by way of Part 18 Questions but the Claimant refused to respond to the same.
The Claimant did partially address the ANPR evidence within his witness statement but it did not address all issues of concern.
Whilst the vehicle was designated a total loss, the Claimant ultimately chose to repair the same. There was a dispute over the PAV sum but despite this the vehicle was returned to the Claimant so the repair could be actioned. The dispute over PAV complicated the chronology somewhat and it was not clear whether the Claimant knew he could action the repairs whilst the dispute was ongoing.
There was no injury claim in this matter and it was recognised that there was a costs risk as the Claimant may have succeeded on the hire period before ANPR hits and the dispute relating to PAV.
There were good arguments that the Claimant was debarred from raising impecuniosity due to a breach of directions. The offer for hire was therefore based upon the Defendant’s basic hire rates evidence and the Claimant chose to accept the offer a week before trial.
The case is interesting as it shows that even if ANPR evidence does not support a fraud argument the evidence can be used to heavily reduce the hire claim made on the basis of ‘need’. A saving of over £26,000 was ultimately secured.
This claim arose following an accident in November 2018 and the insured denied liability. The Claimant’s accident damaged vehicle had also been captured on ANPR during the period of hire and storage. This evidence was disclosed as part of an Application within the substantive proceedings.
The Claimant discontinued the claim on the following agreed terms:
Both our Vehicle Hire & Damage Fraud and Counter Fraud teams have expertise in the developing area of ANPR, and would be happy to discuss queries you may have.
+44 (0) 121 698 5309
Georgia Court, Andrew Thomson