Anastasia Karseras represented the successful Claimant in the case of Metroline Limited v. Mr Diego Barbosa Araujo.
The original claim had arisen out of a rear end collision. Mr Araujo pursued a claim against Metroline in which he asserted that the collision caused his motorcycle to fall to the offside rendering it beyond economic repair and necessitating the hire of a motorcycle on credit in the sum of £48,511.92.
CCTV footage from the Metroline bus demonstrated that Mr Araujo’s account was false. The motorcycle had remained upright and was seen to be parked on the side of the road for several minutes after the accident. As a result of the footage the engineer relied upon by Mr Araujo accepted that the damage to the offside of the motorcycle could not be related to the accident, and the motorcycle had not been rendered beyond economic repair. The engineer also accepted that he had not seen the only possible damage that could have been caused to the motorcycle as a result of the accident when he inspected it. Having suffered no losses as a result of the accident, the entire claim was false. Mr Araujo discontinued his claim, and Metroline pursued proceedings for contempt against him.
This was an unusual case in that the Defendant failed to engage with the contempt proceedings at any stage. The Defendant failed to attend 5 hearings, three of which took place after a bench warrant was issued for his arrest to secure his attendance at court.
The Defendant’s failure to attend court on 4 May 2023 resulted in an adjournment of the substantive hearing of the committal application, and the issuing of the bench warrant for his arrest. The judgment of Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) is reported at  EWHC 1225 (KB).
On 25 October 2023 His Honour Judge Roberts (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) determined that it was appropriate to proceed with the final hearing of the committal application in the Defendant’s absence. His Lordship found that the Claimant had proved all six grounds of contempt beyond reasonable doubt. Three of the contempt grounds related to the making of false statements of truth in a witness statement and in the Particulars of Claim. The other three grounds related to interference with the due administration of justice by making a false claim for the pre-accident value of the motorcycle and the claim for credit hire charges, obstructing inspection of the motorcycle by Metroline, and failing to report that repairs had been carried out to his motorcycle after the engineer’s inspection. This judgment is reported at  EWHC 2950 (KB).
On 30 November 2023 Mr Araujo failed to attend the hearing to determine penalty. His Honour Judge Roberts (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) determined that it was appropriate to proceed in his absence. His Lordship found that the custody threshold had been passed and that a sentence of imprisonment was appropriate. His Lordship was satisfied that nothing short of an immediate term of imprisonment was appropriate having regard to the very serious nature of the contempt and Mr Araujo’s aggravating conduct in not attending hearings and evading arrest.
His Lordship found that the six grounds absent aggravating factors would justify a term of imprisonment of six months. However, having regard to Mr Araujo’s conduct in not attending multiple hearings and evading arrest his Lordship considered that the shortest term which would achieve the purpose for which it was being imposed was nine months (273 days), and this sentence was imposed on each of grounds 1 to 6, to run concurrently. A link to this judgment can be found here.
Mr Araujo has been ordered to pay Metroline’s costs of the committal proceedings on the indemnity basis.
Anastasia was instructed by Michelle Reilly of Weightmans in Liverpool.