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HomeHealth LawHull College Educating Hospitals NHS Belief -v- Natasha Colley: Contempt of Courtroom...

Hull College Educating Hospitals NHS Belief -v- Natasha Colley: Contempt of Courtroom | Medical Negligence and Private Damage Weblog

My weblog on the choice of Ritchie J within the case of Cojanu thought-about the strategy taken by the Courtroom when a Defendant advances a defence of elementary dishonesty. This weblog summarises the place when a Defendant submits an utility to commit a Claimant’s Litigation Buddy for contempt of Courtroom for false statements made in a doc verified by a press release of fact.

Megan Colley (the Claimant in a scientific negligence declare assisted by her Mom and Litigation Buddy, Natasha Colley) was born with extreme acetabular dysplasia, a dysfunction of the hip joints. She alleged that with applicable remedy she would have had regular hip operate and the necessity for surgical joint reconstruction would have been delayed to age 50 or 60 with good mobility preserved till her 80s.

In the course of the course of the scientific negligence case, the Defendant disclosed the report of its professional orthopaedic surgeon. The professional expressed some doubt in regards to the Claimant’s signs which had been “not simply defined on an anatomical foundation”. The Defendant investigated Megan’s social media postings and fashioned the view that they didn’t help the impression given in Megan’s proof. The Defendant obtained covert surveillance proof which, with the social media materials, was disclosed in September 2018. The Defendant amended its case to allege elementary dishonesty within the presentation of Megan’s declare the place a deceptive impression of Megan’s practical capability and an exaggeration of her incapacity had been given.

Topic to the elemental dishonesty defence, the Defendant admitted legal responsibility for damages of roughly £65,500. The scientific negligence declare was listed for trial in October 2018. The trial was adjourned as a result of an professional was unavailable and relisted to start out on 5 March 2020.

In the meantime, in August 2019 Megan’s declare was amended and valued at £5.4 million (diminished from an preliminary valuation of £7.3 million). Nonetheless, eight working days earlier than trial, a Discover of Discontinuance was served on Megan’s behalf. No rationalization was offered, save that this step had been taken towards authorized recommendation. As Megan was in receipt of authorized support, the discontinuance prevented the difficulty of elementary dishonesty from being decided by the Courtroom. 

As an alternative, the Defendant pursued committal proceedings towards Mrs Colley and asserted that the essence of the alleged false assertion was to magnify Megan’s incapacity and immobility arising from her hip dysplasia. The Defendant claimed the surveillance video proof confirmed that Megan had “grossly regular” mobility when it comes to strolling, utilizing stairs, and accessing public transport. Statements from academics at Megan’s faculty and school indicated that they had been unaware of any particular preparations for Megan.

Mrs Colley stood by her statements. She claimed that Megan achieved the mobility seen within the video proof by elevated use of painkillers and that she had unhealthy days in addition to good days. 

The appliance to commit Mrs Colley for contempt of Courtroom on grounds of creating knowingly false statements was heard by Mr Justice Bourne.  Upon listening to reside proof from numerous witnesses (together with Megan’s faculty and school academics), Bourne J concluded “When all of the proof within the scientific negligence declare is taken into account, it’s completely clear that Megan, by herself and with the assistance of Mrs Colley considerably exaggerated the degrees of incapacity which she was experiencing in the course of the lifetime of the litigation.

This exaggeration consisted of statements that Megan “attends school in her wheelchair, has a full-time instructing assistant who pushes the wheelchair” and “is at the moment reliant upon the usage of a wheelchair when out of the home”. Bourne J held these statements to be false and “That Mrs Colley knew that they had been false when she made them. I’m certain that they had been knowingly made with a view to growing the worth of Megan’s scientific negligence declare and, to the information of Mrs Colley, they thereby interfered with or if persevered in would have interfered with the course of justice in a fabric respect”. 

Mrs Colley was discovered responsible of contempt of Courtroom by knowingly making false statements supported by a press release of fact.

Upon contemplating the suitable penalty Bourne J had in thoughts the steering of Moses LJ in South Wales Fireplace and Rescue Service -v- Smith [2021].  That steering included the next warning: “The general public and advisors should be conscious that, nevertheless simple it’s to make false claims, both in relation to legal responsibility or in relation to compensation, if came upon the results for these tempted to take action might be disastrous. They’re virtually inevitably sooner or later going to result in sentences of imprisonment, which could have the knock-on impact that the lives of these tempted to behave in that approach, of each themselves and their households are prone to be ruined.

With this in thoughts Bourne J recognized 4 questions he was required to reply: (1) whether or not the contempt is severe {that a} effective alone can’t be justified, having relating to to hurt and culpability; (2) whether or not a jail sentence is unavoidable; (3) what’s the shortest time period commensurate with the seriousness of the contempt; and (4) if there may be to be a jail sentence, whether or not it may be suspended.

In answering these questions Bourne J held:

  • In respect of questions (1) and (2), the Courts have repeatedly stated that deception of this sort ought to usually result in a jail sentence. This case was severe and sustained and doubtlessly concerned substantial sums. He famous “the deception gave materials help to a possible improve within the declare’s worth which might have been properly into six figures”. Mrs Colley resisted the contempt utility and subsequently admitted no deception and made no apology. A effective alone couldn’t be justified and a custodial sentence was inevitable.
  • As for query (3), the shortest potential sentence could be a sentence of 6 months and Mrs Colley could be entitled to be launched after serving half of that time period. The decide famous “A time period of that size could be vital, in my judgment, to mark the seriousness of an try of this sort and of its magnitude to deceive the Courtroom.
  • Lastly, query (4), the non-public circumstances of Mrs Colley had been thought-about by Bourne J. He concluded his Judgment stating “Mrs Colley in fact made a disastrous determination to attempt to assist Megan by exaggerating her declare. The background doesn’t excuse that tragic mistake however it helps me to know it. It additionally appears to be inevitable that custody would have a major dangerous influence on all the household and particularly her son. In the meantime, I settle for that these proceedings, over an extended interval, have already had a extreme influence on Mrs Colley. The shortage of any admissions is profoundly regrettable, and locations her at actual danger of a direct jail time period, however there may be some purpose to imagine that she could have discovered her lesson, in different phrases, an actual prospect of rehabilitation.

Bourne J sentenced Mrs Colley to imprisonment for six months, suspended for two years provided that no different contempt of Courtroom is dedicated throughout that point. In passing this sentence he acknowledged “I hope Mrs Colley understands the distinctive nature of this determination to droop.

Apply Factors

This case is an effective instance of how severe the Courtroom takes allegations that events to litigation knowingly make false statements in a doc verified by a press release of fact. Defendants are attuned to potential exaggeration of claims and it’s clear on this case the Defendant’s professional was at a loss to reconcile the anatomical nature of the Claimant’s harm and the outline of her stage of mobility.

This Judgment is a reminder to these concerned in scientific negligence and private harm litigation of the significance to confirm a witness’s account.  An in depth overview of disclosure (together with social media content material and third get together disclosure) needs to be taken all through the lifetime of the case.

Moreover, warnings needs to be given to shoppers, Litigation Mates and witnesses of the results of offering false statements in a doc verified by a press release of fact. Colley shouldn’t be a one off instance; that is a part of a rising physique of case legislation coping with elementary dishonesty and it’ll actually not be the final phrase the Courtroom could have on this topic.


If you need any additional data or recommendation in regards to the subject mentioned on this weblog, please contact Richard Lodge or our Medical Negligence and Private Damage workforce.



Richard Lodge is a Companion within the Medical Negligence and Private Damage apply and has been recognised inside the area of scientific/medical negligence inside the Chambers UK and Authorized 500 directories.  He’s an individually ranked lawyer for scientific negligence inside Chambers UK, A Consumer’s Information to the UK Authorized Career.



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