Private prosecution success for Aviva in fraudulent insurance claim case
Published: 14 Jan 2020

A 41-year-old former law student from Dewsbury was sentenced to 21 months for pretending to trip over a crate of orange juice cartons in a supermarket, and claim for her injuries.

The case is believed to be the first private prosecution in the UK by an insurance company against a so-called 'slip-and-trip' fraudster. The deliberate and premeditated plan, which involved two other women, was aimed at obtaining money from a supermarket in Bradford. The fraudster waited eight months after her 'accident' before making her claim, in the hope that CCTV footage would have been erased.

The case was taken by Aviva after the fraudster's original claim was thrown out of court in 2016, when CCTV footage revealed two female accomplices placing a crate of orange juice cartons on the floor of Al-Halal supermarket in Bradford, so the fraudster could pretend to stumble over. She then, eight months later, sent a letter to the supermarket claiming for injuries that would have cost Aviva up to £60,000. Her claim included injuries to her right wrist even though the video showed her falling onto her left wrist.

The judge on the original case found that the fraudster had put forward a wholly fraudulent and dishonest claim. Determined to bring her to justice, Aviva, which represented the supermarket, took out a private prosecution on the basis of fraud by misrepresentation.

Bradford Crown Court gave the fraudster a suspended jail sentence of 21 months. She will also be electronically tagged and placed under a curfew.

Praising insurer Aviva for pursuing the case, the judge said "fraudulent insurance claims are rife currently – certainly in this city. There has to be a deterrent in the form of a sentence of imprisonment. Employees of the supermarket were caused stress and anxiety as a finger was pointed at them for having been negligent when they clearly were not".

"This is a case properly and responsibly brought by the insurance company".

Richard Hiscocks, Aviva's director of casualty claims, said "this staged accident is a clear example of a fraudster trying to claim some easy cash – and she now has a criminal conviction to show for it. Aviva takes a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and we’ll do everything we can to defend our customers against such claims".

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) reported that insurers had detected 113,000 fraudulent insurance claims in 2017 worth £1.3bn. In 2015, insurers noted a 36% rise in fraudulent slip-and-trip claims on the previous year to 27,000, worth £351m.

Damian Rourke, partner with global law firm Clyde & Co, which acted for Aviva, said "figures clearly show a significant increase in so-called slip-and-trip fraud. It’s important that businesses and the public know that insurers like Aviva will take proactive steps to deter and punish criminals who harm businesses and ultimately can cost staff their jobs".

"There is a perception that nobody is doing anything about fraud – and I think it’s important that businesses know that insurers like Aviva are standing up for them".