Metroline claimant jailed for contempt

A motorcyclist who made a false claim for £48,000 credit hire costs has been jailed for nine months after refusing to engage with contempt proceedings, The Law Society’s Gazette reports.

Diego Araujo was also hit with a £60,000 costs order after substantial resources were expended on multiple adjourned hearings. In Metroline Limited v Araujo, The High Court heard that Araujo claimed his £800 motorcycle was damaged beyond repair after being in collision with a bus in 2019.

But CCTV from the bus showed the motorcycle did not fall on its side as Araujo claimed. He rejected a request from the bus company to inspect the damaged vehicle and said it had been sold and picked up from his address. But surveillance photographs showed it was still parked outside or near to Araujo’s home.

The particulars of claim, verified by a statement of truth signed by a solicitor, also alleged that a mobile phone and helmet were damaged in the incident. These were both dropped from an updated schedule of loss served after the CCTV footage had been disclosed. Proceedings were discontinued by Araujo in 2020 after the bus company had asked for the claim to be struck out as a result of dishonesty.

A year later, the bus company brought contempt proceedings on six grounds, including interference with justice by attempting to bring a claim on false pretences. A series of hearings followed, which Araujo did not attend, culminating in a committal application last week. Again Araujo was neither present nor represented.

His Honour Judge Richard Roberts found that the harm caused by Araujo was high: the bus company had to incur £96,000 costs and substantial judicial resources had been spent on adjourned hearings.

“There has been no acceptance of responsibility, no apology and no contrition by [Araujo],” said the judge. “To the contrary, I find that [he] has aggravated his contempt by failing to attend any of the hearings and by deliberately evading his arrest.”

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