Thompsons Solicitors has won a landmark case which extends the rights of people entitled to compensation for injuries from collisions with a vehicle.

The case involved a vehicle being driven by the owner of private land in pursuit of someone.

In the course of the chase, the private land owner drove through a barbed wire fence and struck the individual, causing catastrophic spinal cord injuries, leaving them a tetraplegic.

The driver was uninsured, which meant the case fell to the Motor Insurers Bureau (MiB) to defend.

The MiB, on behalf of the private land owner, attempted to limit their liability to the strict terms of the Road Traffic Act of 1998, which limits the requirement for compulsory insurance in UK law to collisions that occur on a ‘road or other public place.’ As the collision occurred on private land they argued they were not liable to meet the claim.

Thompsons Solicitors, representing the victim refuted the MiB’s argument, and pointed to the European Court decision of Damjian Vnuk v Zavarovalncia Trigalev, which found that an EU directive required compulsory insurance on both public and private land. Thompsons argued that relevant EU directive should apply directly against the MiB as they were an ‘emanation of the state’ in accordance with the subsequent European Court decision of Farrell v Whitty (No2).

The High Court agreed and the ruling marks the first time in the UK that a compulsory insurance body has been forced to pay compensation to an injured party when the injury occurred on private land and the body has not expressly agreed to cover such accidents.

"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."

David Gauler
Serious Injury specialist at Thompsons Solicitors

David Gauler, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “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.

“There is no requirement under English law for compulsory motor insurance on private land and in the vast majority of cases there was previously no insurance in place to compensate victims and the MiB refused to pay out. But we’ve successfully challenged that in this case.

“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.”