New Judgment: Fairclough Homes Ltd v Summers  UKSC 26
27 Wednesday Jun 2012
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 1300
The respondent had been injured in an accident at work and issued a claim against the appellant employer for negligence and/or breach of duty. The County Court decided in the respondent’s favour when determining liability, but when assessing damages at a later date the appellant disclosed surveillance footage of the respondent which showed he had grossly exaggerated the effect of his injuries and his incapacity to work. The appellant applied to strike out the proceedings on the grounds that the claim was tainted by fraud and amounted to an abuse of process. Both the court of first instance and the Court of Appeal held that they were bound by authority to refuse the application.
It was unanimously held by the Supreme Court that, although the Court had jurisdiction to strike the claim out as an abuse of process, it would not be proportionate or just to do so in this case. Despite authority that a claimant could not be deprived of damages to which he is otherwise entitled on the ground that he was guilty of an abuse of process, express language of the Civil Procedure Rules supported a jurisdiction to strike out a claim for abuse of process even if doing so would defeat a substantive claim. The only restriction was that the court must decide cases in accordance with the overriding objective of determining cases justly. In the present case the respondent did suffer significant injury as a result of the appellant’s breach of duty.