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)
The Parliaments in Westminster and Strasbourg will examine separate (and slightly different) sets of proposals for restricting the scope of motor insurance to something a lot closer to that which applied before the Vnuk decision in 2014. It is completely coincidental that this activity is due to happen on consecutive days.
First, on Thursday, the European Parliament will hold a plenary vote on amendments which were agreed in principle by the European institutions earlier in the year (see this blog from June). We therefore expect them to pass. Then, on Friday, Westminster MPs are due to consider the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill. As we have noted before, despite its objectives having government support it is not a government Bill and, as such, the chances of it proceeding further look at the moment to be slim, although they are not negligible.
Positive developments in both legislatures later in the week would inject some real momentum into the reform processes and might permit us to begin to sketch out plausible timetables for implementation of entirely separate but nevertheless similar reforms in the UK and across Europe.
Written by Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at BLM (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I was pleased to chair our e-scooters webinar on Monday and note that we had close to 200 logging on. Thanks to those who joined us, to colleagues from BLM who took part and to our events team for sorting out the online arrangements.
You can view a recording of the ‘E-Scooters: getting you up to speed’ webinar here.
Claims issues surrounding scooter use are at a very early stage – but cases are already out there – so we focused on exploring the rationale behind the government-authorised trials and the regulatory points that can’t be avoided once the trials have concluded next year. The awkward question of whether or not to legalise the more widespread use of e-scooters really will have to be addressed then.
We also examined some of the framework governing highway maintenance and inspection and how scooter riding might fit in. This is clearly a live issue for those local authorities currently hosting trials and could assume greater significance if the ban on the use of privately-owned scooters on roads was to be relaxed.
We received quite a few questions on possible options for insuring liabilities arising from scooter use, along with several about illegality defences and contributory negligence arguments.
As well as continuing the dialogue with those who attended on Monday, we plan to host a further webinar (or hybrid event) in the New Year, looking at the regulatory framework for e-scooters more widely. Please keep an eye out for details of that on our usual BLM channels.
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs email@example.com