Hardball surveillance ploy to reduce injury compensation payout

Ann Summerling | Dec 2023

Video surveillance and other digital content, such as social media posts, are often put forward as evidence in personal injury cases, (see our previous article: Are you being watched?). So, we always explain to our clients that there is a possibility that the insurers may instruct an agent to carry out video surveillance to establish if the claim is legitimate.

Unfortunately, in a very small number of cases, clients may also be subject to video surveillance by insurers even after a substantial compensation payout has been awarded by the court. This is because the Defendants have the right to challenge a decision made in the County Court, by requesting the right to make an appeal, in the hope that they can get the amount of compensation reduced.

This happened to Ann Summerling’s client, the cyclist who was severely injured by a bus, after the court awarded him over £475,000 in damages and interest in January 2023.

Can the Defendants appeal the decision?

The Defendants representing the bus company applied to the Count Court Judge for permission to appeal her decision on the basis that she had been wrong in her judgment.  However, their request was refused so their next step was to appeal to the High Court, which meant that the cyclist was unable to receive any money while the court proceedings continued.

In addition, 3 days after the trial, the Defendant instructed surveillance operatives to follow our client from his home to his place of work over a period of several days.   They then sought permission to rely on the surveillance footage as they were of the view that this showed he was not as disabled as he and the medical experts had said he was.   Their ultimate aim was to get a reduction in the amount of compensation which the trial judge had awarded for future loss of earnings.

What happened next?

It was another six months before the appeal application reached the High Court, in July 2023, where the surveillance footage was show to the appeal Judge.

It transpired that the insurer’s legal team had surveillance footage from before the trial, taken in April 2021, but they had chosen not to use it at the original trial and so it was never disclosed to the Geoffrey Leaver legal team.

The Appeal Judge watched both sets of pre and post trial footage which mostly showed our client walking to and from work using a walking stick, getting on and off buses and being seen occasionally working outside the warehouse doing bits of light work.

This video footage actually corroborated the original witness statement from our client, who said he worked mainly in the office sending emails and being on the telephone.

The Defendants argued that this was more than ‘light manual work’ and was ‘moderate’ work. However, the Appeal Judge was not persuaded by the insurer’s arguments that this was more than light manual work. He commented that there was no basis for any challenge to our client’s integrity or honesty, and “It is clear that … is a very hard-working man.”

The judge also rejected the insurer’s argument that the County Court Judge had been wrong in her original judgment, confirming the original award should stand and an additional £17,610 should be paid to our client by way of interest on the delayed payment of compensation.  In addition, Geoffrey Leaver were awarded their costs of dealing with the appeal applications.

“The attempt to play hardball backfired on the disgruntled Defendants. In addition to the late payment interest and the costs of instructing surveillance experts, they will also be saddled with the legal costs of both sides in making and defending the Appeals,” says Ann Summerling.    “Fortunately, this sort of aggressive tactic is extremely rare, but our personal injury team will always stand up for our client’s rights.”

Contact us

To find out more about how our personal injury team may be able to help you claim compensation following an accident that was not your fault, please contact Ann Summerling on 01908 689368 or via email at asummerling@geoffreyleaver.com to arrange a free and no obligation initial consultation.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.


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Ann Summerling | Chartered Legal Executive

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