This case is of significance for those dealing with road traffic accident claims and Francovich damages.
The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of Mr Justice Jay (which provides a useful review of the legislative framework and jurisprudence) that the exception to the MIB’s / Article 75 insurers’ obligation to pay compensation to victims of road traffic accidents provided for at Clause 6(e)(iii) Uninsured Driver’s Agreement 1999 (“the crime exception”) was incompatible with the European Motor Directives. The United Kingdom was in breach of EU law.
The claimant, a passenger, was injured in a road traffic accident. His claim against the Article 75 insurers failed on the basis that Clause 6.1(e)(iii) Uninsured Drivers' Agreement 1999 applied. The Claimant then brought his claim against the Secretary of State for failure to implement correctly the second motor directive. The compatibility of Clause 6.1(e)(iii) with EU law was not argued in the original claim.
This case makes it clear that Member States are required to ensure that compensation is paid to victims of road traffic accidents in all circumstances and any departure from this principle is to be strictly construed. Any exclusions from the MIB’s obligation to pay compensation should be limited to those set out in Article 1(4) [Article 10(1) of Directive 2009/103/EC]. The Secretary of State’s argument that it had a discretion to introduce additional exceptions was dismissed.
Richards LJ, giving the judgment of the court: “the only permitted exclusions from the obligation laid down are those set out expressly in the article itself [Article 4(1)]…. There is nothing in the text of the article to suggest that other exclusions are permitted”. In the case of an uninsured vehicle, payment of compensation may be excluded in respect of persons who voluntarily entered the vehicle which caused the damage or injury and the MIB can prove that they knew it was uninsured.
Richards LJ noted that there was no equivalent to the ‘crime exception’ under the RTA 1988 and “it would be very surprising if such an exclusion were nonetheless available to the MIB”.
The MIB (Article 75 insurer) obligation to pay compensation is subject to several exceptions (see Clause 6(1)) and the compatibility of these exceptions with EU law should be considered in light of this judgment.
Emily Davies / 1st Apr 2015
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