Insurers' fraud challenge fails
Posted: 24th October 2012
A law graduate who was accused of involvement in an attempted ‘crash for cash’ insurance fraud has been vindicated after the Court of Appeal accepted that he may well have been an entirely innocent victim.
Basharat Hussain was left bearing a mark of shame after a county court judge accepted arguments put forward by insurance company, Aviva, that he had been complicit in a ‘staged’ road traffic accident in which his car was run into by a fraudster at a roundabout in Bradford.
However, in allowing Mr Hussain’s appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that there was insufficient evidence to condemn the father-of-two who had led a blameless life and whose hopes of forging a career in the law had been devastated.
Mr Hussain had his sister and two nieces in the car with him at the time of the 2009 accident. The other car involved was insured through Aviva and Mr Hussain put in a claim for compensation to cover the costs of repairing his vehicle and for soft tissue injuries to his neck.
However, Aviva was suspicious from the outset after it emerged that the driver of the other car could not be traced and that it had been bought on hire purchase and insured just two days before the collision. The credit card on which it had been bought was the same one that had been used to purchase five other cars involved in previous collisions.
At Bradford County Court, Judge Sean Spencer QC had dismissed Mr Hussain's damages claim after ruling that it was ‘as plain as a pikestaff that there was dishonest mischief afoot’ and that he had been complicit in an attempted fraud.
However, referring to Mr Hussain's ‘excellent character and qualifications’, Lord Justice Davis said that the case against him was based on ‘impermissible speculation’.
The judge, sitting with the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, and and Lord Justice Treacy, concluded: ‘One can readily see how Aviva's suspicions were initially aroused. But, in my view, the judge was wrong to draw the inference that Mr Hussain had been party to the attempted fraud.’
The judge said that he hoped Aviva would now come to terms with Mr Hussain making it unnecessary for his damages claim to be re-heard at the county court.