ON APPEAL FROM QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
LONDON MERCANTILE COURT
HIS HONOUR JUDGE MACKIE QC
2009 FOLIO 244
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE JACOB
LORD JUSTICE PATTEN
| Mr Farid Yeganeh
|- and -
Zurich Insurance Co
Mr James Maxwell-Scott (instructed by Beachcroft LLP) for the respondent
Hearing dates : 9th December 2010
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Ward:
The broad outline
The judge's findings on the fire
"55. Despite the absence of direct evidence of arson I might, had there been sound evidence of a motive for Mr Yeganeh to burn down his house, have concluded that this was arson because the likelihood of the only other possibility, accident with the halogen heater, was so remote. However given that lack of motive, the burden of proof and the guidance given in The Popi M, I find that Zurich has not proved that Mr Yeganeh burned down the house. Arson is a very serious crime in quite a different league, in terms of execution as well as gravity, from making dishonest claims for payment or to save money."
There is no appeal by Zurich against that conclusion.
The case before the judge on the contents claim
The judge's decision on the falsity of the contents claim
"These were mistakes only in the sense that they were carelessly dishonest."
I do not wish to be overly pedantic but "careless dishonesty" is a curious concept. His finding that the appellant was "casual about the truth" was a pointer to a tendency consistent with the fraud alleged by Zurich.
"73. Mr Yeganeh had an incentive to plant clothing in the bedroom to restore the integrity of the contents claim which Mr Fuller's investigation had demolished. For the reasons I have set out I conclude that he did this directly or indirectly. …
74. I therefore conclude that Zurich has established that Mr Yeganeh made a false claim for the clothing contents and this defence succeeds."
"Mr Yeganeh had a lot of clothes. He and I frequently went shopping together both in London and in Chichester and I often chose clothes with him. Whilst the decorating was going on in about August 2007, all Mr Yeganeh's clothes, with the exception of those which he kept at my house (where he was living while the decorating works were being carried out) were piled up in the master bedroom and covered with sheets and curtains. After the fire on 14th September 2007 I helped Mr Yeganeh put together a list of all the clothes which were at Whitefriars at the time of the fire. I was familiar with what clothes and shoes he had because, as I say, I often went shopping with him and also because I used to do his washing and ironing and generally organise his wardrobe. We compiled a list from memory and, to the best of my recollection, the list which we produced is a fair and accurate record of what Mr Yeganeh had at Whitefriars at the item of the fire."
She confirmed that evidence under cross-examination, saying of the pile of clothing, "It was a mountain high of clothing".
"Q. Your evidence is that Mr Yeganeh left your house on the night of the fire and was away for how long?
A. About an hour.
Q. And when do you say he got back?
A. About 8 o'clock. I think he went about 10 to 7 and I think he got back about 8.
Q. Are you telling the truth about that or are you covering up for him?
A. No, I am not covering up for him. Yes, I am telling the truth.
Q. Have you got together with Mr Yeganeh to consciously exaggerate how many clothes he had?
Lord Justice Jacob:
Lord Justice Patten: