In the Supreme Court’s decision today in Brownlie v Four Seasons (Cairo), a 4:1 majority of the Justices allowed the underlying tort claim to proceed in England & Wales and rejected the defendant’s argument that there was no jurisdiction here.
The decision turns on the rather rarefied point of the meaning of “damage … sustained within the jurisdiction”, one of the necessary elements in securing the court’s permission to serving proceedings outside England & Wales. What the decision means is that 11 years after the death of her husband in the index accident in Egypt and after two separate visits to the Supreme Court, the claimant should now finally be able to progress this significant fatal accident claim.
Yesterday, the Irish Government published its Bill to reform and modernise road traffic legislation, which includes provisions to facilitate the use of e-scooters and other powered personal transporters (PPTs) and autonomous vehicles on roads in Ireland. The press release accompanying the Bill can be viewed here.
The approach to PPTs, when implemented, would move Ireland ahead of the UK in the widespread legalisation of e-scooter use. The Bill itself, the Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021, is a technical and difficult read but its explanatory memorandum states that the Bill will effect “an amendment to the definition for a mechanically propelled vehicle to exclude PPTs from its scope and so permit the use of PPTs without imposing the registration, tax, licencing and insurance conditions associated with conventional motor vehicles.”
Our sense of the current debate on e-scooter use in the UK is that the government could be likely to move in a similar direction once the e-scooter trials end next year. Following the approach in Ireland and amending the definition of motor vehicle in the Road Traffic Act 1988 would be an obvious way of achieving that.
Written by Alistair Kinley at BLM (email@example.com)
E-scooters have attracted considerable press attention throughout the pandemic. Some see them as a clean transport solution to urban congestion and that is certainly among the reasons for the UK government introducing the current e-scooter hire scheme trials. On the downside, one source has estimated that e-scooters will be involved in up to 200,000 accidents this year (Nextbase, in July 2021) and others report they are used as getaway vehicles for criminals (perhaps displacing thefts/mugging by moped riders?). As well as these risks, there is also potential for new product liability litigation arising from defective scooters.