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Parsonage v Fastway Steel Limited CA

26 November 2011
The issues

Limitation:- conscious exaggeration of injuries as relevant factor.

The facts

Defendant appealed from the decision of the Judge on a preliminary limitation issue.

On 29 August 1992, claimant was driver of a van involved in a multi-vehicle pile up. A livestock transporter stopped in the centre lane of the motorway and the defendants van collided with its rear. A third vehicle, a lorry, jack-knifed and hit the van. The claimant was the driver of the van. The claimant sued both the driver of the lorry that had hit him and his employers for providing him with a van with unroadworthy tyres. In March 1994 expert evidence was obtained that the van did not brake and the condition of the tyres was irrelevant. The claimant dropped his claim against his employer.
In October 1998 the claimant obtained further evidence from criminal proceedings brought to the effect that the van had skidded and the tyres were of poor quality and would have affected his ability to stop or slow down.

On 16 May 2000, the claimant therefore sued his employers the current defendants. The defendants pleaded limitation. The Judge found the relevant date of knowledge to be after the first expert evidence was obtained in March 1994. On receipt of that evidence the claimant should have obtained a second report. However the Judge extended time under Section 33.

The Defendant relied amongst other matters on the fact that the claimant had consciously exaggerated his injuries during the proceedings which fact the claimant had subsequently admitted.

The decision

1. The Judge had approached the matter on the basis that it was for the Court to decide that it was equitable to allow the action to proceed. He had not misdirected himself as to the burden of proof and to the extent to which it rested upon the claimant.

2. The main issue was as to whether the van had skidded and whether the claimant had applied brakes. That was a matter for the experts. Eyewitness evidence was of lessor importance.

3. The fact that the claim had subconsciously exaggerated his injuries was a relevant factor and the Judge could take it into account into exercising his discretion. In this case the Judge had concluded that the extensive medical evidence had not been effected by the claimants exaggerations.

4. The Judge’s exercise of discretion was one that could not be faulted.

Appeal dismissed.

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