Motor insurance: Infrastructure Minister takes steps to remove Vnuk decision from NI law

This morning Nichola Mallon MLA appeared before the NI Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee to discuss (inter alia) reforming motor insurance law in NI to re-set it back to the position that had applied before the wide approach that the European Court adopted in 2014 in Vnuk v Zararovalnica.

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Department for Transport in reflective mode on new road-related technologies?

This morning’s response from the government to the Transport Select Committee’s report on smart motorways is, in essence, that DfT accepts the MPs recommendations in full and will pause the further roll out of smart motorways (i.e. all lanes running with no hard shoulders) in order to collect and better evaluate safety-related data.

Although it would be a little unfair to characterise the response (linked in this DfT press release) as a change in direction, it could be taken to represent a more subtle shift in the DfT’s approach, perhaps indicating any ultimate regulatory choices will be driven to a greater extent by rich empirical data rather than by political enthusiasm for any particular technology’s perceived benefits.

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Vnuk: legislative change to the scope of motor insurance moves forward again

This first blog of the New Year reports further progress this afternoon in the Commons for Peter Bone MP’s presentation Bill seeking to remove the effects of the Vnuk v Zararovalnica and Lewis v Tindale decisions from English motor insurance law.

The brief debate at today’s Committee Stage ran to around only 30 minutes, following which it was approved without objection or amendment. The points made in today’s debate were, in broad terms, summaries of those aired during a debate in September in Westminster Hall on the effects of these two cases (the transcript of the Westminster Hall debate can be read in full here)

The Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill now passes to Report Stage before the whole House. We expect that is also likely to be a fairly short discussion and it could take place in the next few weeks.

In closing today, Mr Bone pointed out that his Bill, if it succeeds – which looks increasingly likely – would be the first piece of primary legislation, after the UK’s exit from the EU, to alter an aspect of ‘retained EU law’.

Stakeholders in the motor insurance and motor sports sectors will really not be too interested in whether it is the first, second or third to do that but will simply want to see it take effect ASAP. As the Bill is drafted to commence two months after its Royal Assent, there might be a fair prospect of it taking effect late in the second quarter of this year. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss the detail of the proposed changes.

Written by Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at BLM (