17 Mar 2023
Leeds City Council wins civil case against spurious compensation claim
A Leeds resident was ordered to pay £10,750 in legal costs after his spurious compensation claim against Leeds City Council was found to be “littered with inconsistencies and discrepancies” at Leeds County Court.
Christopher Bell of 20 Sunnybank Court in Yeadon (address correct at time of claim) brought a claim for personal injuries against the council in July 2018, claiming he had fallen on an uneven manhole cover in the city centre and had sustained a knee injury.
Claiming compensation of £10,000, Mr Bell who is now aged 33 alleged that he had taken several weeks off work due to his injury and needed weeks of physiotherapy treatment.
Leeds City Council defended the claim due to concerns over discrepancies in the documents and accounts given by the claimant, with council legal officers noting that Mr Bell’s medical records showed he had reported an “excruciating” knee injury seven days before the alleged tripping accident.
Mr Bell initially denied the earlier injury took place but was later forced to admit it had occurred after the recording of an NHS 111 call about the injury was obtained by the council. Further investigation also revealed that Mr Bell had not taken any time off work after the alleged tripping incident and had only attended a single physiotherapy treatment session.
When these issues were raised Mr Bell dropped his claim, stating he had been in a “bad place” with physical and mental health issues when he brought it. The council asked Leeds County Court to rule on whether Mr Bell had been dishonest in pursuing the claim, in order to discourage further spurious claims against the council and to protect public funds.
At a hearing District Judge Judy Dawson found that Mr Bell’s case was “littered with inconsistencies and discrepancies” and the discrepancies were in every instance ones which would increase the potential value of his claim, concluding that the claim was “fundamentally dishonest”.
Mr Bell was ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of the proceedings in the sum of £10,750.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for resources, said:
“This result is a clear warning to anyone considering making a spurious compensation claim against the council that we remain fully committed to safeguarding public funds and will always look to pursue such dishonest claims in the courts.
“I would like to thank the efforts of the council’s legal team and everyone who worked on this case, successfully protecting the interests of the people of Leeds and taxpayer money.”
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For media enquiries contact:
Leeds City Council Communications team