Insurer saves £6.6m in court victory against dishonest parachuting BASE jumping claimant


Keoghs and Hastings Direct have won the UK’s largest ever fundamental dishonesty case, saving the insurance provider a staggering £6.6m.

The case of Shaw v Wilde involved a four-and-a-half-year investigation following a motorcycle accident where Mr Shaw injured all four of his limbs. Following an interim payment of £150k by Hastings Direct, the claimant sought £6.6m, including the cost of high-end luxury cars and business class trips abroad. 

Yet investigations by Keoghs discovered evidence that Mr Shaw had not only exaggerated his claims but had actually taken part in a number of extreme sports including BASE jumping, climbing and had also been certified fit for a tandem skydive by his GP.

Originally instructed in August 2019, Keoghs surveillance agents quickly recorded Mr Shaw walking 900 metres unaided, whilst carrying his young son in a baby carrier, despite Mr Shaw claiming he was only able to walk 200 metres with a stick.

Over the months and years which followed Hastings Direct and Keoghs worked collaboratively to uncover a truthful picture of Mr Shaw’s life, and the genuine value of his claim. This involved significant periods of surveillance, deep web searches, numerous applications for disclosure of documents, and detailed cross-referencing to look for further discrepancies. 

The result of detailed enquiries revealed Mr Shaw had been certified by his GP as fit for a tandem skydive, had undertaken a BASE jump in Italy, as well as having participated in indoor and outdoor climbing in the UK. Records revealed Mr Shaw had managed to ascend Mount Snowdon with a friend using an electric mountain bike.

However, Mr Shaw maintained he had poor mobility and persisted in his claims for a substantial care package, an expensive Land Rover or Mercedes to transport his mobility scooter, bungalow accommodation in an affluent area, and business class travel for trips abroad.

The court found Mr Shaw had been dishonest to such an extent it had polluted his entire case, even the valid parts of it. Consequently, his claim was dismissed, and he was ordered to pay the costs incurred by Hastings Direct, while at the same time refunding the £150,000 he had received at the outset. Complex arguments surrounded the costs orders which were made by the court.

At the time of judgment this is the largest case to date to be dismissed for dishonesty, both in terms of the £6.6m sought, and the court’s valuation of the genuine claim at £1.2m.

Mike Pope, partner and case lead at Keoghs, said, “We’re delighted with the judgment of this case which culminates years and months of diligent work. The judgment provided by the court represents a precedent for all similar future cases in its analysis of dishonesty sufficient to dismiss a very serious claim, the circumstances when such dishonesty may be excused, and the costs orders which flow from these decisions.”

Peter Lane, Head of Large & Complex Loss at Hastings Direct, added, “This is a fantastic result and one that has been achieved through great collaboration between the team at Hastings Direct, our panel lawyers Keoghs and Counsel from 9 St John Street Chambers. Hastings Direct is committed to protecting the honest customer and combatting fraudulent claims that can drive up the cost of insurance premiums for all customers.”