I am very concerned about a case my son is involved in. My son has mild learning difficulties but can cope with his job and lives alone.
Basically he is dyslexic and has a low IQ, but he is independent. He was involved in a minor collision and he is now going to court to claim damages.
I have seen other things you have written, and I have had a look at the papers with my son. He has signed papers saying he needed a hire motorcycle to get to work. He didn’t. He has a motorcycle, but he cycles to work and always has done. He can keep his pedal cycle in the warehouse where he works nights and was worried about his motorcycle, which is his absolute pride and joy, being nicked.
In his witness statement, he says the motorcycle was essential for travelling to work. He has signed off saying he had 15 sessions of physio. He had two. He is now going to court and I am worried that he may have real problems.
When I asked him about this, he said the man who took the statement told him he needed to say this, and he is a very innocent lad – someone in a suit who he thought was a solicitor told him what he needed to say. Looking at the statement, it uses words like “Impecunious” and “clinically essential” – words my son would never understand, let alone use.
He has signed these documents with a statement of truth, which says he understands he can go to prison if he has lied. He has not lied – he has signed a document he does not understand, I am very worried for him. Is there anything I can do?
I think you are going to have to interfere – something I rarely tell parents to do. When a statement is signed for someone who has literacy or learning problems (I don’t know how bad your son’s dyslexia is) it is essential and required that a SOLICITOR, not some statement taker, confirms that he has read the statement to the witness and has explained the statement of truth.
Secondly, there has been very recent case law on this point. Judges are slow to find fundamental dishonesty where they think the claimant is innocent but either foolish or manipulated, because when they do find fundamental dishonesty, there follows a world of pain.
A wise part-time county court Judge took the view on a similar case pumped up for the benefit of an accident management company that the claimant was honest and had no idea what he was signing (in this case there were no literacy issues), and while the claim was dishonest, the claimant was honest.
That Judge’s decision was upheld by the High Court and the reasoning was spot on. The High Court Judge said the conduct of the solicitors needed looking at, not the poor bloke caught up in the post-crash feeding frenzy.
Interesting, the law firm the claimant in that case used tried to stop acting failed to get the correct paperwork in, and then did not show up at the appeal hearing.
The best thing you can do is insist the witness statement is amended so it tells the truth. Do it by email and set up a trail. The – ahem – law firm your son is lumbered with is owned by the hire company, so there is an obvious conflict of interest.
Your son needs to recover his real losses. The hire company needs to recover the hire charges of the largely unused hire bike and the 13 unused sessions of physio.
I suspect the law firm your son is unfortunate enough to be caught up with will get what they can out of the case knowing your son now has someone looking out for his interests and keeping the claim honest. But your son needs to make sure now he knows the importance of keeping his claim straight so he can show the Judge how he has tried to remedy the situation he has. Innocently but foolishly, found himself in.
If this case goes on to trial, your son needs to get an independent solicitor Involved, if it goes horribly wrong. In front of the wrong Judge, he could he facing prison.
Fast Bikes October 2021