Case - Homes for Haringey v Fari
Mrs Barbara Fari made a claim for personal injury after she tripped over an uneven paving slab in May 2008 injuring her right knee. She claimed to be severely disabled and sought over £750,000 in compensation - the majority of which related to care and assistance allegedly provided by her husband. Whilst Homes for Haringey admitted liability, quantum of the claim was disputed.
Undercover surveillance showed Mrs Fari had grossly exaggerated the effect of her injuries. In light of this evidence the medical experts altered their initial opinions, agreeing they had been misled. They agreed the injury would have resulted in a minor aggravation of pre-existing degenerative changes in her knee with symptoms lasting no more than 2-3 months.
Homes for Haringey successfully applied to strikeout the entire claim as an abuse of the court process. The judge found that Mrs Fari had suffered a very minor injury worth no more than £1,500 (less than 0.5% of the pleaded value of the case) and accepted there had been an attempt to deceive the court by significantly overstating the suffering caused. Permission was given to pursue contempt proceedings against Mr and Mrs Fari, for giving false witness statements and representations to the court and medical experts.
Mr Justice Spencer concluded that Mrs Fari was well aware of the content and purpose of her witness evidence and schedule of loss, and furthermore she had driven the claim with ‘vigour’. There had been ‘a serious and deliberate attempt to mislead’. Although Mr Fari’s role had been lesser than his wife, he was also guilty of contempt.Sentencing has now taken place. In mitigation, Mrs Fari said she had two children living at home and two adult children with disabilities who relied on her, and whose rights under Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights 1950 would be adversely affected if she were sent to prison.
The judge said that those who made false claims had to expect to go to prison. She had chosen to contest every allegation at trial and was not entitled to credit for a guilty plea. Having regard to the seriousness of her conduct, any interference with her children’s Article 8 rights was proportionate and necessary. She was given the minimum sentence of three months imprisonment, which took into account that no damages had been paid out as a result of her fraud and that she had been in the media spotlight.
Mr Fari had foolishly allowed himself to be involved in the deceit and had played his part in the pretence to help inflate her claim. The part he had played was sufficiently serious to justify a period of imprisonment. He was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, which was suspended for 12 months to enable him to look after the family while Mrs Fari was in prison.