A senior lawyer has warned that removing off-road vehicles from the scope of motor insurance would eliminate injured people and bereaved families from the justice system.
The European Commission is consulting on options for reform of compulsory motor insurance requirements. The Government favours an option to amend the Motor Insurance Directive so that insurance is only required when vehicles are used “in traffic”.
“A pedestrian could be seriously injured by a car on private land and there would be no available route to redress for him or his family, because the car would not need to be insured,” explained Brett Dixon, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“How could it possibly be right for vehicles which can cause significant harm to be driven without insurance? There is no justification for it,” he said.
“It is wholly unreasonable that someone injured on a public road by a negligent driver can pursue an insurance claim to meet their needs but someone injured on a private road, by the same vehicle, cannot.”
A review of the Motor Insurance Directive follows a Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling which decided that where a vehicle is used is no longer relevant in deciding whether it must be insured. A farm worker in Slovenia was injured by a reversing tractor but Slovenian law only required compulsory insurance for use of a vehicle as a means of transport on public roads. The CJEU ruled in favour of the farm worker, and he was compensated by the insurers of the tractor.
“Moves to bring UK law in line with the Motor Insurance Directive as it currently stands are well overdue,” said Mr Dixon.
“There is no need for hysteria about onerous insurance requirements for children’s toys and lawnmowers,” said Mr Dixon. “The UK Government has always had the power to exempt certain vehicles from the requirement for insurance, and should do so if the vehicles do not present a danger. Whether or not something can be exempt should be determined by maximum weight and speed.”