Motor accidents abroad: “compensation on a consistent basis, by reference to the law of the state of the accident” – Lord Mance

In its judgment today in Moreno v The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, it could be argued that the Supreme Court used its decision in a case about interpreting a regulation specific to the MIB to make a wider point. That point is that English law (and Scottish & Northern Irish laws) should approach the arrangements in the European Motor Insurance Directives for compensating victims so as to provide compensation on a consistent basis regardless of how any particular claim might be pursued.

The Court unanimously decided the case in favour of the Bureau. The only judgment is that of Lord Mance (linked here), who viewed the arrangements in the Directives as aiming constantly to improve the prospects and procedures for injured parties to pursue appropriate compensation. For him, it was clear that the particular route by which the claim is made – which could be a random factor, depending on whether the driver is insured or uninsured, or whether the insurer is sued directly – should not affect the award. This conclusion meant it was necessary to overrule the Court of Appeal’s decisions in similar cases involving the Bureau, i.e. Jacobs [2010] and Bloy [2013].

That the wider scheme put in place by under the Directives should be understood as delivering the same award regardless of the procedural route is clear from this passage of Lord Mance’s:

“whichever special provision of the Fourth Directive the victim of a motor accident may have to have recourse, the compensation to which he or she is entitled is and remains the same. It is the same compensation as that to which the victim is entitled as against the driver responsible, or his or her insurer, or, that failing, as against the guarantee fund of the state of the accident. The compensation remains the same if and when the victim has recourse instead to the compensation body established in his own state of residence…

Miss Moreno had been injured in Greece by an uninsured driver and, on returning to the UK, sought recourse against the MIB as being “the compensation body established in her state of residence”. The consistent approach to compensation was to adopt the rules set out in the Rome II regulation. The law of the country where the damage occurred – Greece – must apply regardless of the route by which the claim might be made.

About the Author

akAlistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.

Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.

He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).

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