A judge has ruled that a dismissed noise induced hearing loss claim was ‘fundamentally dishonest’ following a court appeal by Allianz insurance. An industry first for disease claims, the judge also granted Allianz permission to recover its legal costs against the claimant.
The claim was intimated against an Allianz customer, Diamanttek Limited, for noise induced hearing loss. The claimant was employed by the defendant between 2003 and 2013, firstly as a diamond driller before becoming a plant operator. Diamanttek Limited did not deny that the claimant worked in a noisy environment, but disputed the issue of hearing protection provision and enforcement.
The claimant argued that the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not enforced prior to 2013. He claimed that until this date, no training had been provided with regards to the correct use of hearing protection, and no warnings were provided about the dangers of noise exposure. Allianz investigations were able to demonstrate that the claimant was supplied with PPE throughout the entire period of his employment. As a result liability was denied and Allianz appointed panel law firm Keoghs LLP to enter a defence.
During the first trial hearing, Deputy District Judge Kilbane rejected the claimant’s evidence, finding that he “has not been telling the truth here today,” and the case was dismissed. However, following this decision, the judge was not willing to rule that the claim was fundamentally dishonest and therefore refused the application by Allianz for the removal of qualified one-way cost shifting (QOCS) for the claimant.
Allianz made the decision to appeal this ruling and on 8th February, the original judgement was overturned by His Honour Judge Gregory. Based on the fact that the claimant had lied about the issue of hearing protection, the Judge agreed the test for ‘fundamental dishonesty’ was satisfied and gave the defendant permission to enforce the costs order against the claimant.
Sarah Mallaby, head of technical claims, Allianz Insurance, commented: “We are delighted that as a result of Allianz’s appeal, the first fundamental dishonesty ruling has been made against a noise induced hearing loss claim.
“The outcome of this case is great news for the insurance industry. It underpins the principles of the law reforms which came into force in 2013 and we believe that this should now set a precedent for future disease claims. The success of this case is a testament to the hard work of our Claims Division and demonstrates our commitment to fighting dishonest claims pursued against our customers all the way to trial.”
Stephen Croston, Partner, Keoghs said “This is an important decision for the market, providing much needed guidance in an emerging area of the law. It is also a great result for Allianz and its customers, sending a clear signal of its continued commitment to identify and fight fraud across all lines of business. Keoghs is delighted to have played its part in deploying the robust and brave strategy set by Allianz at the start of the case all the way to appeal.”
Allianz Insurance is one of the largest general insurers in the UK and part of the Allianz SE Group, the largest property and casualty insurer worldwide.
Around 85 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz's knowledge, global reach, capital strength and solidity to help them make the most of financial opportunities and to avoid and safeguard themselves against risks. In 2014, over 147,000 employees in more than 70 countries achieved total revenues of approximately 122.3bn euros.