February 20, 2020

MIB v Lewis: Supreme Court rejects MIB application for permission to appeal

The Supreme Court has rejected an application by the Motor Insurers' Bureau for permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal decision in MIB v Lewis. The decision, upholding the judgment of the High Court, extended the liabilities of the MIB by compelling it to meet claims for uninsured motor accidents which occur on private land.

It has also been reported that the MIB sought a referral of this matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union, but this was also rejected.

The upholding of the High Court decision reiterates the extension of the obligations of the MIB beyond those within the RTA and within its own Articles of Association. The MIB may now seek to challenge the Government into amending the Road Traffic Act. In the continued absence of any indication that the Government intends on amending the RTA, it would be unsurprising if the MIB does not make efforts to amend its Articles to reflect the changes brought about this decision.

Lord Justice Flaux in the Court of Appeal stated that the issues brought about by this decision could be resolved "by amendment to the RTA and/or the MIB Articles of Association".

Background

The Claimant was injured whilst walking on private land by an uninsured motor vehicle driven by Mr Tindale. The Claimant pursued a claim against Mr Tindale and the MIB.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Soole found that any judgment obtained by the Claimant against Mr Tindale was not a liability required to be insured under Part VI of the RTA. However, Mr Justice Soole found Article 3 of the Motor Insurance Directive gave the Claimant a right to be compensated, irrespective of whether the vehicle used was on private land.

As the domestic legislation of the Road Traffic Act did not encompass the right, then it was directly effective and enforceable against an 'emanation of the (relevant EU Member) State'.

As the MIB was considered to be an emanation of the United Kingdom state, and the Road Traffic Act was no longer compatible with the Motor Insurance Directive, the claim should be met by the the MIB as designated compensation body.

The MIB appealed to the Court of Appeal and was unsuccessful.  As noted above, the Supreme Court has rejected an application for permission to appeal a further time.

During the Court of Appeal proceedings, it was noted that the MIB had issued a Contribution Notice against the Department of Transport in respect of the proceedings and the alleged liability. It is unclear to date what has occurred in relation to this action.