With less than a month to go to the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, it seems strange that the wackier consequences of compliance with the decision in Vnuk have not yet been trailed out by those hoping to leave the Union. After all, we’ve only just had a spat about whether the EU requires us to sell bananas in bunches of threes or fours and headlines along the lines of “Bonkers EU means Granny’s motability scooter has to be insured!” would hardly be any less edifying.
Maybe one side or other will yet roll out the case in support of their argument – after all, there is some time to go and campaigning is likely to ramp up to close to fever pitch over the next few weeks. The prospect of Mr Farage explaining that a Slovenian farming accident might impact on the insurance costs of, say, fork lift trucks, is maybe not a fanciful one after all.
Whatever the outcome on 23 June, the UK is still going to be part of the EU over the medium term. We will be expected to comply with the rules of the club while we are members, even if we are negotiating an exit for some yet-to-be-determined future date. It is hardly going to be in the Government’s interests just to kick the Vnuk can down the road (or other public place, come to think of it) and do nothing since, as discussed previously here, it runs the real risk of being found liable in Francovich damages to anyone who falls within Vnuk but who cannot recover because of the limitations in the Road Traffic Act 1988.
We have also pointed out that the Commission’s REFIT programme includes a module about motor insurance. If that is the process via which wider motor issues are to be tackled then perhaps a discreet and earlier initiative to deal with the unintended consequences and knock-on effects of Vnuk might be undertaken before this part of REFIT begins? We have been monitoring the Commssion’s activity but nothing along these lines has yet emerged.
It seems hardly realistic to expect the DfT to begin a Vnuk consultation if the Commission has relevant work in the pipeline. And, as with the rest of Whitehall, the DfT is subject to ‘purdah’ during the referendum period and isn’t expected to make any big policy announcements this side of the vote. Perhaps things will pick up a little after that? We will certainly be keeping a close eye on matters and will keep you informed of developments.
About the Author
Alistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.
Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.
He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).