Insurers urged to pursue costs against losing plaintiffs

ISME accuses insurers that do not seek costs of ‘egregious breach of duty’

ISME has urged insurers to confirm that they intend to register debt judgments against losing plaintiffs.

ISME has urged insurers to confirm that they intend to register debt judgments against losing plaintiffs.

 

The Irish SME Association (ISME) has accused insurers that do not pursue costs against losing plaintiffs of “an egregious breach of duty”.

ISME has urged the insurance industry to confirm publicly that they intend to register debt judgments against losing plaintiffs as a standard operating procedure in the Irish market.

“While some insurers are actively and successfully defending false or exaggerated claims on behalf of their clients, they are not pursuing the recovery of costs, where plaintiffs’ cases are thrown out,” said chief executive Neil McDonnell.

“At least one ambulance-chasing solicitor boasted about how even two chancers with fraudulent claims were not pursued for costs by the insurers.

“This is an egregious breach of duty by the insurer to recover costs incurred. Failure to pursue losing claimants means there is no moral hazard for those who take dubious, vexatious, exaggerated or downright false claims.”

Serial claimants

Mr McDonnell said insurance companies must register judgments for costs against losing claimants, “even where those claimants have no means to repay”.

“This is especially important since many of those presenting false or exaggerated claims are serial claimants,” he said. “Securing a judgement for costs against them means there is a good chance that a future award in their favour can be ‘garnished’ to recover costs.”

Hugh Ward, principal solicitor with Hugh J Ward & Co Solicitors, said the recovery of costs was “relatively straightforward”.

“When a court decides to award costs against the losing party it is essential that the costs are recovered from the losing party,” he said.

“This general rule helps to prevent the issuing of frivolous and fraudulent proceedings, or proceedings without any reasonable hope of success.

“In our experience the recovery of court-awarded costs is a relatively straightforward debt-collection process, which is not expensive and can demonstrate a serious financial consequence of issuing legal proceedings.”