The Court of Appeal has extended insurers' liability under Section 151 of the Road Traffic Act to cases where the identity of the driver is unknown. Claimants can now elect to bring a claim against the vehicle's insurers rather than using the MIB Untraced Driver's Agreement. Accordingly insurers will now bear the cost of these claims.
The Claimant was involved in a hit-and-run collision. The driver was not identified, but the Claimant traced the registered keeper of the vehicle and an insurance policy. The Claimant issued proceedings against both the keeper of the vehicle (incorrectly believing him to be the driver) and the vehicle's insurers.
The insurer denied liability on the grounds the policy did not cover the registered keeper and the driver had not been identified. The insured could not be traced; it was believed he was fictitious and the policy was fraudulent. The insurer applied for summary judgment.
The Claimant's applied to substitute the name of the First Defendant to ‘the person unknown driving vehicle registration number Y598 SPS who collided with vehicle …".
District Judge Wright dismissed the application and granted summary judgment for insurers. His Honour Judge Parker upheld the decision on appeal, finding the Claimant could submit a claim under the Motor Insurers' Bureau Untraced Drivers Agreement (UTDA). Permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal was allowed.
The Court of Appeal found:
The Claimant was permitted to amend their claim to substitute an unnamed driver, identified by reference to a specific vehicle driven at a specific time and place.
Although no application has yet been made, insurers may look to request permission to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court.
What can we learn?