Accident abroad but claim commenced here against MIB – damages are to be assessed in accordance with the law of the state where accident occurred

profile_PI_Vilma_Vodanovic1

MIB v Moreno [2016] UKSC 52

Miss Moreno was injured in an RTA in Greece by an uninsured driver. Liability was admitted. Miss Moreno brought a claim against the MIB in the UK as is permissible under the various Council Directives of the EU (culminating in the Sixth Directive 2009/103/EC) and consequent Regulations that implement those directives in the UK.

Miss Moreno argued that the law applicable to the assessment of damages was English law because under Greek law she would have received less. (It is interesting to note though that the laws of some other countries of the EU in certain circumstances would result in more favourable compensation being awarded than under English law.)

The matter was before the High Court initially where a Court of Appeal decision from 2010 was followed (Jacobs v MIB [2010] EWCA Civ 1208) in which the interpretation of regulation 13 of the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensatory Body) Regulations 2003 (which in part transposes the various Council Directives into English law, albeit before the Sixth Directive came into existence) was such that the issue of liability and heads of damage could be separated from the issue of compensation and the latter could be be looked at with reference to the law of the victim’s state of residence. This decision was followed in a further Court of Appeal decision in Bloy v MIB [2013] EWCA Civ 1543.

When the matter first came before him in the High Court, Gilbart J felt bound to follow the previous Court of Appeal decisions but could see the force in arguing the contrary and permission was granted for a leapfrog appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court were of the view that (at paragraph 39, as per Lord Mance)

‘ … the scheme of the Directives is clear, and that they do not leave it to individual Member States to provide for compensation in accordance with any law that such states may choose. On the contrary, they proceed on the basis that a victim’s entitlement to compensation would be measured on a consistent basis, by reference to the law of the state of the accident, whichever of the routes to recovery provided by the Directives he or she invokes. In consequence, it also makes no difference to the measure of liability of the body or personal ultimately responsible, which route is chosen.’

The interpretation of regulation 13(2)(b) of the 2003 Regulations as advocated in the decision in Jacobs and Bloy was wrong and those decisions were overruled on that particular point.

Accordingly, the scope of the MIB’s liability to Miss Moreno was to be determined in accordance with the law of Greece.

The rationale for this decision was based on seeking not to differentiate the outcome to the claimant depending on what route of recovery is chosen. If the negligent driver had been insured, then the claim could have been commenced against her or her insurers in Greece in which case there would have been no question as to the application of English law. The scheme originally introduced by the various Council Directives allowing for recovery against the MIB in the victim’s state of residence works on the basis that whilst recovery of compensation can be sought against the MIB here, the MIB then seeks reimbursement of the settlement/compensation paid out from the relevant authorities in Greece and it would only be fair that this is based on what Miss Moreno might have been able to recover in Greece. This approach ensures consistency.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: