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Run over in Europe – how much can you claim? RTAs meet EU law in the Supreme Court

What happens when you go to Greece, get run over by an uninsured driver, lose a leg, and want to claim compensation?

Answer – for now – you claim against the Motor Insurance Bureau in the UK. “What is the measure of damages?” was the question before the Supreme Court in Moreno v MIB

[2016] UKSC 52. Answer – whatever you would get under Greek law. Bad news for Ms Moreno, as Greek law is less generous – but better news for anyone whose relative is killed in an RTA in Italy, for instance, as Italian law apparently allows for higher fatal accident awards than English law does.

The mechanics are as follows. If someone is injured in an RTA elsewhere in the EU, EU regulations (the Sixth Directive 2009/103/EC, implemented in the UK by the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensation Body) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/37), to be precise) provide a fairly simple mechanism for them to recover compensation in the UK.

Regulation 13(2)(b) provides that :

“the compensation body shall compensate the injured party in accordance with the provisions of article 1 of the second motor insurance directive as if it were the body authorised under paragraph 4 of that article and the accident had occurred in Great Britain.”

In Jacobs v MIB [2010] EWCA Civ 1208, the Court of Appeal had held that this regulation meant that damages would be paid by the MIB as they would have been as if the accident had taken place in Great Britain.

In Moreno, the Supreme Court considered the Sixth Directive and its predecessors as creating a broad scheme which was meant to allow for injured parties to be compensated in the same way whether they were pursuing the tortfeasor directly, their insurance company, the appropriate national uninsured drivers’ guarantee fund, or the MIB here in the UK. The 2003 Regulations may have pre-dated the Sixth Directive, but they were intended to do nothing other than give effect to the relevant EU Directives in this area.

Injured people’s entitlement to compensation for accidents elsewhere in Europe therefore remains unproblematic, and the measure of damages is clear – for now. As the Court commented at [3], though, “with British exit from the Union, this will, no doubt, be one of the many current arrangements requiring thought”.

Ross Beaton / 31st Aug 2016


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