“Use of vehicle” to receive further judicial scrutiny in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal in R&S Pilling v UK Insurance. The claim stems from a fire, caused by Mr Holden welding has stationary car in order to rectify defects reported in a failed MoT test, which severely damaged the claimant’s building. The case turns on whether welding the car was “use” of the vehicle for the purposes of compulsory insurance (as required by section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). It is difficult to predict when the Supreme Court might hear the case but the fact that it will very much keeps the debate on “use” a very live topic.

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Further European perspectives on motor insurance

Compulsory motor insurance across Europe currently is under the scrutiny of the European Commission, which is carrying out its REFIT review of the Codified Motor Insurance Directive. Although much of that is likely to focus on the challenges of the Vnuk decision, it seems that the other European institutions and stakeholders are also considering the future shape of potentially important aspects of motor insurance law.

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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