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The ‘Fundamentally Dishonest’ Wardrobe

It is not often that a wardrobe plays a starring role in fiction. A gateway to Narnia, a hiding place perhaps, but rarely the perpetrator of an assault.  Yet, an IKEA wardrobe recently played a starring role as part of a claim at Manchester County Court last month.  According to the claim, a grandmother was forced into using herself as a human shield to save her two-year old grandson from being crushed by the falling item of furniture, suffering injuries to her arm as a result.

The twist in the tale came as the defendant IKEA tried to invoke the defence of fundamental dishonesty, alleging the tale was fiction rather than fact (though there were no lions or witches involved I’m afraid!)

This defence has been available to parties since April last year in an attempt to reduce the number of fraudulent cases, and allows for the dismissal of a claim if the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest. Despite this seeming a little tautological, defendants have used the strategy in their favour since April, with the insurance firm AXA forcing two claimants to drop personal injury claims for neck injuries following ‘light contact’ with a neighbouring vehicle.

In fact, this is one of the first reported cases of the fundamental dishonesty defence failing. Good news to those who feared that the new legislation would be a potent weapon allowing the defendant to discourage genuine claimants. Accidents do happen.