There has been a unanimous and significant decision in the Court of Appeal regarding the case of Delaney v Secretary of State for Transport.

It has been found that the UK had incorrectly implemented an EU Motor Insurance Directive because an exclusion from compensation had been made where a vehicle was being used in connection with a crime. (Clause 6.1(e) (iii) of the Uninsured Drivers' Agreement provides that the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) can exclude liability to a claimant injured in a road traffic accident where the claimant knew or ought to have known that the vehicle was being used in the course or furtherance of crime.)

The UK Government was considered to be in breach of EU law by relying on this clause and it will need to remedy this breach.

Facts of the case

The claimant, Delaney was injured in an RTA caused by the negligence of the driver. Cannabis was found in the vehicle. The driver’s insurance voided the policy, so the claim fell under the Uninsured Drivers' Agreement. At first instance, the insurer successfully relied on the crime exception clause. The claimant’s claim failed, which was upheld on appeal.

Delaney then brought proceedings against the Secretary of State on the basis that the crime exception was a breach of EU law.

The decision

Although the Directives included a list of exclusions for which member states could exclude liability, knowledge that a vehicle in which the claimant was travelling was being used in the course of a furtherance of a crime is not one of them.

By including the crime exception, this ran counter to the aim of protecting victims as had been previously shown in European case law.

The claimant was awarded damages for the UK Government’s breach of EU law.

Conclusion

This decision means that the crime exception will no longer be a valid defence to either Article 75 insurers or the MIB . The UK Government will need to amend the legislation to remedy the breach.

It is possible that earlier decisions will have to be reviewed following this decision.