The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) has to pay compensation to a man injured by an uninsured vehicle, even though it was on private land, the High Court has ruled.
The MIB had argued that the Uninsured Drivers Agreement 1999 only applied to injuries caused by a vehicle on a road or other public place.
Lewis v Tindale & Ors  EWHC 2376 (QB) involved a vehicle being driven by the owner of private land in pursuit of someone. In the course of the chase, the driver, Dennis Tindale, crashed through a barbed wire fence and struck Michael Lewis, who was walking, causing catastrophic spinal cord injuries and leaving him a tetraplegic.
Mr Justice Soole agreed with the claimant that the European Court of Justice’s 2016 decision in Vnuk and subsequent decisions made it clear that a 2009 EU directive required compulsory insurance for vehicles on private land.
He went on to find that this should apply directly against the MIB as it was an ‘emanation of the state’ in accordance with the 2018 European court decision of Farrell v Whitty (No2), even though it is a private law body that contracts with the government to provide its service.
Soole J said the Farrell case superseded existing High Court authority that the MIB was not an emanation of the state.
He said the cover afforded by the directive was at least €1m but that an argument over whether it required unlimited cover was raised late in the hearing: “It is not straightforward and would need full argument.”
David Gauler, a senior injury solicitor at Thompsons, who acted for the claimant, said: “The ruling by the High Court is a huge step forward – up to now victims of collisions on private land would usually go uncompensated but this decision means we can apply EU law directly against the MIB…
“This ruling will continue to stand for all accidents that occur at least up until the day we leave the EU (or the end of any ‘implementation’ period’), at which point we are at the mercy of how a divided Tory government decides how workers and injury victims will stand, with the rest of the EU or with lesser rights?
“Following Brexit, if the government does not allow for EU law to continue to take precedence, then this landmark advance for injured people will be under threat.”
Mr Gauler also suggested that all the other exclusions introduced by the MIB – except for knowingly entering a stolen vehicle, which is prohibited by EU law – could be challenged on similar grounds now.
The MIB has been granted permission to appeal.