The Courts Role In Disentangling The Truth In Personal Injury Actions

Published date20 September 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Personal Injury
AuthorMr Tom's McDonagh

The recent High Court decision of Ms Justice Niamh Hyland 1 reiterates it is not a matter for a Court to 'disentangle' a plaintiff's claim when it has become entangled due to lies and misrepresentations by the plaintiff. The burden of proof is on a plaintiff to prove that an accident caused or contributed to an injury.

Tom's McDonagh of RDJ LLP, together with Damien Higgins SC and Niall Flynn BL successfully acted for the defendants on the instructions of a large Insurer in the defence of the personal injury proceedings issued by the plaintiff.


The plaintiff issued Circuit Court proceedings seeking damages for personal injury arising from a road traffic accident on 25 March 2015 when the vehicle he was a front seat passenger in, was impacted to the rear by the defendant's truck at traffic lights when it rolled into the back of the vehicle. The plaintiff was involved in a prior accident on 18 March 2015 when the vehicle he was driving rear ended a vehicle on a motorway at 120km/hr and in which his wife, brother and two children made claims for personal injury. The plaintiff was also involved in a subsequent accident on 23 July 2015 when his vehicle was hit by another vehicle on the Quays in Dublin causing his vehicle to spin around.

Circuit Court

The proceedings were initially commenced in the Circuit Court and the plaintiff's case was dismissed pursuant to Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Coutts Act 2004 by Judge Fergus on 27 November 2020 when the plaintiff had legal representation. The plaintiff appealed the decision without legal representation.

The Law

The Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in Vesey v Bus Eireann2 where the Court concluded that it was not the responsibility of the trial Judge to 'disentangle' the plaintiff's case when it has become entangled as a result of lies and misrepresentation. The Court held that it could not disentangle the truth and it would only be able to speculate how an accident caused or contributed to an injury.

In addition, the Court also relied on Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. In essence Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides for a dismissal of the plaintiff's claim either where a plaintiff knowingly gives false or misleading evidence or where the Court is satisfied that a person has sworn an affidavit under s.14 of the same Act that is false or misleading in any material respect. It is clear from the legislation the section is mandatory in nature...

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