Aviva v Rendive [2016] EWHC 3152 (QB)

It was appropriate to grant an insurer permission to pursue contempt proceedings against an individual who had brought a personal injury claim following an RTA. Following cross-examination at trial, the Claimant had discontinued his claim and the Defendant had successfully applied to enforce an order for costs on the basis of fundamental dishonesty.

Held: It was not for a court hearing an application for permission to bring proceedings for contempt of court to decide the merits of the application for contempt. Its task was to make a decision on the material before it whether the applicant had established a strong prima facie case that the respondent had made false statements in documents attested to by a statement of truth knowing them to be untrue. Even if a strong prima facie case was established, the pursuit of committal proceedings had to be in the public interest, proportionate and in accordance with the overriding objective. Bringing a false claim in the courts was extremely serious. Apart from the dishonesty involved, false claims led to a waste of court time and resources. Although the respondent’s claim was small in financial terms and contempt proceedings would be costly, it was proportionate for such proceedings to be pursued.