On 5 June 2019, judgment was given in an appeal case which has important connotations for drivers of uninsured vehicles on private land.
By coincidence, it is a case that started locally with an incident on farmland near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.
The appeal case is called Motor Insurers Bureau -v-Michael Lewis and the full judgment can be found here:
The background is that on 9 June 2013 a farmer and landowner Mr Dennis Tindale, then aged 83, pursued the original Claimant, Mr Michael Lewis and some friends, in an uninsured 4×4 vehicle. He believed that they had been “up to no good” in the vicinity of his farm premises and may have been stealing metal. Mr Tindale was however, wrong.
Nevertheless, he followed them first along a public road, then along a footpath before driving down an embankment, through some barbed wire into a field where he collided with Mr Lewis, who suffered life -changing injuries in the form of a broken neck and he subsequently became quadriplegic.
Mr Tindale, the farmer, was prosecuted for causing grievous bodily harm (“GBH”) with intent under s18 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 s18, but was found not guilty.
Although Mr Lewis won his claim for damages in 2018 as there was no dispute that Mr Tindale was liable for the injuries, because Mr Tindale was uninsured at the time of the incident, he had no insurers to pay Mr Lewis’s claim. Under ss 95, 143 and 145 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (with amended regulations in 2000) vehicles must have, to put it briefly, compulsory insurance issued by an authorised insurer (one who is a member of the Motor Insurers Bureau) in respect of death or bodily injury to any person or damage to property caused by or arising out of the use of the vehicle on a road or other public place in Great Britain.
Motor Insurers Bureau
The claim had also been brought against the Motor Insurers Bureau – the “MIB”. The MIB is a body funded by a levy on insurers which exists to compensate those injured by uninsured (and sometimes “untraced”) drivers. It provides “a safety net for innocent victims of identified and uninsured drivers…..) In this case, whilst the MIB did not dispute that Mr Tindale was liable for the accident and subsequent injuries as an uninsured driver, it did not need to pay damages to Mr Lewis as the 4×4 driven by Mr Tindale did not cause the injuries “on a road or other public place”.
The Court of Appeal in this case did not agree. The legal reasoning is set out in the judgment, with case law. The Court said;
“ Furthermore, the fact that the UK government has failed to legislate for compulsory insurance in respect of the use of motor vehicles on private land and then specifically to delegate to the MIB the residual liability where the relevant vehicle is uninsured, can legitimately be described as a breakdown in the system put in place by the government”
It goes on to say that the distinction between the use of vehicles on public and private roads is “wholly artificial” and notes that it is in the public interest for insurance cover to extend to vehicles on private land. It may require a change in the law to achieve this. But for the time being, this judgment means that anyone injured on private land by an uninsured vehicle will be able to make a claim against the MIB. This is no guarantee that the claim itself will be successful; every claim is fact specific, but at least the possibility of an MIB claim is not closed off.
If you are injured or want to discuss making an MIB claim please contact our specialist personal injury team on 01522 561020.