Vnuk – what are the implications for UK law?

Any amendment to the Road Traffic Act will likely be by way of statutory instrument that could take six to 12 months (or more) to be drafted and be approved by Parliament.

Interestingly, the Motor Insurance Directives (MID) provides that each member state may act in derogation – ie make exceptions – to the obligation to insure for certain types of vehicles or certain legal entities. Note that any derogated vehicle must be covered by the member state’s compensatory guarantee scheme which, in the UK, is the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). The Department of Transport will be inviting stakeholders’ views during the consultation as to the categories of vehicle that the UK might look to derogate.

 All of which gives rise to a number of questions:

  • How will the compulsory insurance requirement be redefined and how would that affect the definition of ‘vehicle’ and ‘use’?
  • How might the UK Government respond? Is it likely there will be a formal derogation from the directives excluding certain types of vehicle from the obligation to insure? If so, what classes of vehicle would be derogated?
  • What is the potential Government exposure to Francovich claims?
  • To what extent might any of the Government’s possible options impact on the funding of the MIB and the operation of its Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement?
  • How might the UK’s response to the Vnuk decision change the interplay between employers’ liability, public liability and motor insurance for accidents involving ‘vehicles’ not on the public road?
  • What is the impact on event organisers and participants for motorsport?
  • Will risks moving from public liability to motor increase in turn the potential liability of the MIB?
  • Will there be an increased fraud risk arising from alleged accidents on private land?

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Written by Mike Dobson, partner and head of office Birmingham, BLM

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