10/09/2020

Claim Notification Forms – take them seriously!

“…CNFs should be reliable documents and should be taken seriously.”
Mr Justice Spencer, Richards & Anor v Morris [2018] EWHC 1289 (QB)

Sometimes there is an absence of any real detail in a Claim Notification Form (CNF). It may be a missing National Insurance number, an incomplete address or no description of the injuries allegedly suffered. The missing information could be the very first signs that something is not right with the claim.

However, missing information is not the only indicator, as sometimes a CNF contains detail that later proves to be false. A comparison between a CNF and a medical report received at stage 2 of the MoJ Portal process can start to reveal inconsistencies. 

Often that quick comparison will cause a compensator to question the accuracy of a CNF and consequently, the credibility of the claimant:

Did the claimant seek medical attention or not?

Did the claimant take any time off work or not?

Did the claimant suffer with a severe neck injury not?

Did the claimant suffer with severe psychological injury or not?

Was the claimant travelling with several passengers or not?

Those inconsistencies may be an indicator that the claim is not as genuine as it first appeared and prompt further investigation revealing that the CNF contains false information.

Claimants and those enabling the claim will often attempt to explain away the absence of information or any inconsistencies in a CNF. Those explanations should not be readily accepted.

The entire purpose of the MoJ Portal is to facilitate the exchange of claim information and documents between lawyers and compensators at a reduced operational cost. The CNF is intentionally a comprehensive document as it needs to ensure a compensator is able to make important decisions about the accident, such as if the accident was caused by their insured’s breach of duty or if the accident caused some injury to the claimant.

A claimant is expected to provide details of the type of injury, a brief description of those injuries, details of any time off work and details of any medical attention sought including rehabilitation. All of the information in a CNF is crucial and it follows that the information provided must be accurate for the process to be effective. 

If there is any doubt as to the importance of a CNF, have a look at the statement of truth contained in each CNF:

I am the claimant’s legal representation. The claimant believes that the facts stated in this claim form are true. I am duly authorised to sign this statement.

I am the claimant. I believe that the facts stated in this claim form are true.

The pre-action protocol for low value injury claims further states:

The statement of truth in the CNF must be signed either by the claimant or by the claimant’s legal representative where the claimant has authorised the legal representative to do so and the legal representative can produce written evidence of that authorisation…On the electronically completed CNF the person may enter their name in the signature box to satisfy this requirement.

Compensators can be reassured that the courts will take inconsistencies in a CNF seriously if a fraudster decides to progress the claim to trial.

In our experience the courts, quite rightly, take into account all of the claimant’s evidence, which includes the CNF. 

…the statement of truth is thus important as it means, or should mean, that the insurer can rely on the accuracy of the contents of the CNF in assessing the damages and any offer of compensation to be made.

Mr Justice Martin Spencer, Richards & Anor v Morris [2018] EWHC 1289 (QB) 

The courts recognise that a CNF has to be accurate and will take a dim view of any claimant who knowingly includes false or misleading information within their CNF. 

Claimants pursuing fraudulent claims, or those enabling the claims, will often struggle to provide an acceptable explanation for any false, limited or inaccurate information contained within the CNF. Those explanations are not readily accepted by the courts given the importance of how accurate a CNF must be as set out in the High Court Judgment set out above..

In turn, the contents of a CNF can form part of the basis of a fundamental dishonesty finding. 

Whilst all aspects of a claim must still be balanced and an informed case-specific decision made, identifying missing information and inconsistencies in the CNF can unearth fraudulent claims. Those claims can then be investigated and defeated.

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