Accident Exchange launches second investigation into dishonest hire rate evidence


Credit hire firm Accident Exchange has launched a second investigation into dishonest car hire rate evidence, six years after it played a role in exposing fraud perpetrated by rate surveyor Autofocus.

The investigation follows concerns highlighted by Accident Exchange CEO Steve Evans, pictured, after reviewing more than 100 statements regarding the cost of hire deployed by insurers in the last month.

Of the evidence reviewed, Evans identified individuals deliberately concealing documents that challenge the evidence in their own witness statement.

He also found examples of organisations claiming in witness statements reliance on historical records of telephone conversations with hire companies, but refusing to disclose the transcript of those conversations or, in cases where they have been disclosed, revealing the notes are not necessarily accurate or true records of the conversations that took place.

There were also instances of entire witness statements being predicated on evidence of available hire rates, which the maker knows cannot be true, according to Evans.

He said: "You would think with the insurance industry's continual claims about the importance of eliminating fraud that those solicitors commissioning and paying for this evidence would have made sure that it was fit to be put before the courts as honest, complete and reliable."

The earlier Autofocus battle, which came to light in 2009, revolved around Accident Exchange threatening to sue the now-defunct Autofocus for providing dishonest rate evidence.

Permission was given by the Divisional Court to apply to commit seven former Autofocus employees to prison in February 2012. On 30 July 2015, Lord Justice Laws dismissed an application from four of the seven to strike out the claims against them, saying "there is a substantial case to the effect that the course of justice has been comprehensively perverted up and down the country".

Evans added: "It's rather pathetic that the abhorrent behaviour that polluted the legal system between 2007 and 2010 has re-emerged as ‘normal business' for some defendant solicitors and insurers.

"In 2009, insurers claimed they were deceived by Autofocus and didn't know the evidence deployed on their behalf was dishonest. In 2015, there is no excuse for those same insurers - and their instructed solicitors - to be relying on similarly dishonest rate evidence simply because it helps them settle a case for less."

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