Defendant firms in £126m credit hire claim to face October 2018 hearing

Law Society Gazette, 7th June 2017

Legal proceedings against three firms named in a scandal involving the falsifying of quotes for courtesy cars provided to motor accident claimants is set to come to court next autumn, the Gazette understands.

A trial date has been set for October 2018 for claims manager Accident Exchange Limited to continue a claim against parties involved in estimating and compensating the cost of credit hire payments to insurers.

The case is likely then to be split into a trial on liability and then on quantum.

The commercial court proceedings were revealed publicly last month when members of defunct survey company Autofocus Limited were committed for contempt. Three law firms – Keoghs, Lyons Davidson and Morgan Cole (now Blake Morgan following a merger) were named as defendants in a claim that could be worth up to £126m.

Keoghs and Lyons Davidson each issued statements following the contempt judgment in which they both vowed to ‘vigorously’ defend the claim. Blake Morgan has yet to comment.

Accident Exchange claims it lost millions of pounds in revenue and had to lay off hundreds of staff because car hire rates were kept artificially low through false statements.

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Automotive and Insurance Solutions Group (formerly Accident Exchange Group Ltd) told the court that the alleged Autofocus fraud ‘resulted in a large volume of appellate litigation that was necessary in order to expose the deceit and to resolve the number of cases determined on a false premise at first instance’.

A spokesperson for the Motor Accident Solicitors Society said last month’s judgment appeared to be ‘pretty damning’ but he urged caution in drawing too many conclusions on the issue until after the separate commercial court proceedings.

He added: ‘In the meantime we would expect that defendant representatives reviews their practices to ensure that any rates evidence presented is of the utmost credibility and integrity.’

The Forum of Insurance Lawyers has declined to comment on the issue.

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