Personal injuries abroad: where is the damage sustained and why is it important?

This question is at the heart of the Supreme Court’s decision in Four Seasons International Holdings (FSIH) v Brownlie. The fatal car accident, which gave rise to the claim, happened in Egypt but the claimant was an English resident and had incurred losses and expenses related to the incident on returning to England. She issued in England against FSIH, which was based in Canada, and thus had to apply to serve the proceedings outside the jurisdiction. Whether she would be able to do that would turn on where the damage was sustained.

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Accidents abroad and applicable law – recent Court of Appeal decision

Just over a year ago, the High Court delivered its decision in Pickard and Marshall v Generali and others. The case involved a road traffic accident in France in which two English residents, Marshall and Pickard, were injured (Mr Marshall died from his injuries) in a collision caused by an uninsured French driver colliding with Mr Pickard’s stationary car (insured with RSA) and forcing it against another French vehicle (insured with Generali). The question of the applicable law was appealed and a decision on the point was given on 19 January 2017.

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Insurance is an oxymoronic concept… is not what the judge said

Sahin v (1) Havard (2) Riverstone Insurance

This was an interesting case in itself for a number or reasons and well worth a read of the summary that our head of motor, Nick Rogers has prepared, here. The legal issues that can be thrown up by “motor” and the complexities of the interplay of statute, case law, social policy and – dare I say it – Europe (yes – Vnuk gets a mention!) do mean that we are never short of cases for the next edition of Bingham and Berrymans.

However the comment that caught my eye is at the very end of Nick’s commentary. One of the reputational issues for insurers is that their core product is not widely understood amongst its policyholders. It is one of the recommendations of the Insurance Fraud Taskforce to improve consumer understanding and one does sometimes think that the judiciary too does not quite “get” some of the important underlying principles.

Too often the perception seems to be that the “deep pocket” of the insurer can and should fund every claim. This certainly seems to have been the approach that led this claimant to push this case to the Court of Appeal.  It was, therefore, very interesting to see Lord Justice Longmore’s comment which I quote inaccurately above to get your attention but accurately below:

“Insurance for failing to ensure that there is insurance is an oxymoronic concept for which it would be impossible to assess a premium.”

It is good to note that the Court of Appeal “gets” it!! Ultimately the “deep pockets” are those of every policyholder.

Written by Terry Renouf, consultant