Monday, May 29, 2023

Hull College Instructing Hospitals NHS Agree with -v- Natasha Colley: Contempt of Court docket | Scientific Negligence and Private Harm Weblog | Kingsley Napley


My weblog at the resolution of Ritchie J in terms of Cojanu regarded as the method taken by means of the Court docket when a Defendant advances a defence of basic dishonesty. This weblog summarises the placement when a Defendant submits an utility to devote a Claimant’s Litigation Good friend for contempt of Court docket for false statements made in a file verified by means of a remark of fact.

Megan Colley (the Claimant in a medical negligence declare assisted by means of her Mom and Litigation Good friend, Natasha Colley) used to be born with serious acetabular dysplasia, a dysfunction of the hip joints. She alleged that with suitable remedy she would have had customary hip serve as and the desire for surgical joint reconstruction would had been not on time to age 50 or 60 with excellent mobility preserved till her 80s.

All over the process the medical negligence case, the Defendant disclosed the record of its knowledgeable orthopaedic surgeon. The knowledgeable expressed some doubt in regards to the Claimant’s signs which have been “now not simply defined on an anatomical foundation”. The Defendant investigated Megan’s social media postings and shaped the view that they didn’t toughen the impact given in Megan’s proof. The Defendant received covert surveillance proof which, with the social media subject material, used to be disclosed in September 2018. The Defendant amended its case to allege basic dishonesty within the presentation of Megan’s declare the place a deceptive impact of Megan’s purposeful capability and an exaggeration of her incapacity have been given.

Matter to the basic dishonesty defence, the Defendant admitted legal responsibility for damages of roughly £65,500. The medical negligence declare used to be indexed for trial in October 2018. The trial used to be adjourned as a result of knowledgeable used to be unavailable and relisted to begin on 5 March 2020.

In the meantime, in August 2019 Megan’s declare used to be amended and valued at £5.4 million (diminished from an preliminary valuation of £7.3 million). Alternatively, 8 operating days prior to trial, a Understand of Discontinuance used to be served on Megan’s behalf. No clarification used to be equipped, save that this step have been taken towards criminal recommendation. As Megan used to be in receipt of criminal help, the discontinuance averted the problem of basic dishonesty from being decided by means of the Court docket. 

As an alternative, the Defendant pursued committal complaints towards Mrs Colley and asserted that the essence of the alleged false remark used to be to magnify Megan’s incapacity and immobility bobbing up from her hip dysplasia. The Defendant claimed the surveillance video proof confirmed that Megan had “grossly customary” mobility relating to strolling, the usage of stairs, and having access to public shipping. Statements from lecturers at Megan’s faculty and school indicated that they have been blind to any particular preparations for Megan.

Mrs Colley stood by means of her statements. She claimed that Megan completed the mobility observed within the video proof by means of larger use of painkillers and that she had unhealthy days in addition to excellent days. 

The applying to devote Mrs Colley for contempt of Court docket on grounds of creating knowingly false statements used to be heard by means of Mr Justice Bourne.  Upon listening to are living proof from quite a lot of witnesses (together with Megan’s faculty and school lecturers), Bourne J concluded “When the entire proof within the medical negligence declare is regarded as, it’s completely transparent that Megan, by means of herself and with the assistance of Mrs Colley considerably exaggerated the degrees of incapacity which she used to be experiencing all the way through the life of the litigation.

This exaggeration consisted of statements that Megan “attends school in her wheelchair, has a full-time educating assistant who pushes the wheelchair” and “is these days reliant upon using a wheelchair when out of the home”. Bourne J held those statements to be false and “That Mrs Colley knew that they have been false when she made them. I’m positive that they have been knowingly made in order to expanding the price of Megan’s medical negligence declare and, to the information of Mrs Colley, they thereby interfered with or if continued in would have interfered with the process justice in a subject material recognize”. 

Mrs Colley used to be discovered accountable of contempt of Court docket by means of knowingly making false statements supported by means of a remark of fact.

Upon making an allowance for the fitting penalty Bourne J had in thoughts the steering of Moses LJ in South Wales Fireplace and Rescue Carrier -v- Smith [2021].  That steering incorporated the next caution: “The general public and advisors will have to bear in mind that, alternatively simple it’s to make false claims, both with regards to legal responsibility or with regards to reimbursement, if came upon the effects for the ones tempted to take action shall be disastrous. They’re virtually inevitably someday going to result in sentences of imprisonment, which may have the knock-on impact that the lives of the ones tempted to act in that manner, of each themselves and their households usually are ruined.

With this in thoughts Bourne J recognized 4 questions he used to be required to respond to: (1) whether or not the contempt is critical {that a} superb on my own can’t be justified, having referring to to hurt and culpability; (2) whether or not a jail sentence is unavoidable; (3) what’s the shortest time period commensurate with the seriousness of the contempt; and (4) if there’s to be a jail sentence, whether or not it may be suspended.

In answering those questions Bourne J held:

  • In recognize of questions (1) and (2), the Courts have many times stated that deception of this sort must usually result in a jail sentence. This situation used to be critical and sustained and doubtlessly concerned really extensive sums. He famous “the deception gave subject material toughen to a possible building up within the declare’s worth which might had been neatly into six figures”. Mrs Colley resisted the contempt utility and due to this fact admitted no deception and made no apology. A superb on my own may now not be justified and a custodial sentence used to be inevitable.
  • As for query (3), the shortest conceivable sentence can be a sentence of 6 months and Mrs Colley can be entitled to be launched after serving part of that time period. The pass judgement on famous “A time period of that duration can be important, in my judgment, to mark the seriousness of an try of this sort and of its magnitude to mislead the Court docket.
  • In any case, query (4), the non-public instances of Mrs Colley have been regarded as by means of Bourne J. He concluded his Judgment mentioning “Mrs Colley after all made a disastrous resolution to take a look at to assist Megan by means of exaggerating her declare. The background does now not excuse that tragic mistake nevertheless it is helping me to are aware of it. It additionally appears to be inevitable that custody would have a vital damaging affect on the entire circle of relatives and particularly her son. In the meantime, I settle for that those complaints, over an extended duration, have already had a serious affect on Mrs Colley. The loss of any admissions is profoundly regrettable, and puts her at actual possibility of a direct jail time period, however there’s some reason why to imagine that she may have discovered her lesson, in different phrases, an actual prospect of rehabilitation.

Bourne J sentenced Mrs Colley to imprisonment for six months, suspended for two years provided that no different contempt of Court docket is dedicated all the way through that point. In passing this sentence he said “I’m hoping Mrs Colley understands the phenomenal nature of this resolution to droop.

Apply Issues

This situation is a superb instance of the way critical the Court docket takes allegations that events to litigation knowingly make false statements in a file verified by means of a remark of fact. Defendants are attuned to doable exaggeration of claims and it’s transparent on this case the Defendant’s knowledgeable used to be at a loss to reconcile the anatomical nature of the Claimant’s harm and the outline of her stage of mobility.

This Judgment is a reminder to these fascinated with medical negligence and private harm litigation of the significance to ensure a witness’s account.  An in depth evaluation of disclosure (together with social media content material and 3rd birthday party disclosure) must be taken right through the lifetime of the case.

Moreover, warnings must be given to purchasers, Litigation Pals and witnesses of the effects of offering false statements in a file verified by means of a remark of fact. Colley isn’t a one off instance; this is a part of a rising frame of case legislation coping with basic dishonesty and it’s going to on no account be the ultimate the Court docket may have in this matter.


If you want any longer knowledge or recommendation in regards to the subject mentioned on this weblog, please touch Richard Hotel or our Scientific Negligence and Private Harm group.



Richard Hotel is a Spouse within the Scientific Negligence and Private Harm observe and has been recognised inside the box of medical/clinical negligence inside the Chambers UK and Felony 500 directories.  He’s an personally ranked attorney for medical negligence inside of Chambers UK, A Consumer’s Information to the United Kingdom Felony Occupation.



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