In a result which the judge acknowledged had scope to cause some serious head-scratching among ordinary members of the public, a drug-dealer has recently succeeded in a damages claim against the UK government because domestic legislation denied him the ability to obtain compensation from a motor insurer after he suffered injuries in a road traffic accident.

The claimant had previously failed at the Court of Appeal when he sued the motor insurer of his friend and fellow dealer who had crashed the car the car in which they were travelling. The claimant had been found to have a block of cannabis the size of a small football under his jacket when freed from the wreckage of the car and the finding was that at the time of the accident both men were transporting the drugs for re-sale. The driver was sent to prison for his part. The driver’s insurer avoided the policy for non-disclosure but remained in the picture as the Article 75 insurer for MIB purposes.

The first claim failed because the insurer was able to rely upon clause 6(1)(e)(iii) of the MIB Agreement which excludes liability where the claimant knew that “the vehicle was being used in the course or furtherance of a crime”. Undaunted, the claimant subsequently brought the second action against the UK government because the EU Directive which obliged the member states to put in place a third party compensation scheme for uninsured driver accidents does not allow for an exception along the lines of the UK “furtherance of a crime” provision.

The judge, the newly-appointed Mr Justice Jay, concludes his judgment with this telling comment:

Many readers may be wondering how it comes about that a drug-dealer is entitled to compensation against Her Majesty’s Government in circumstances where he was injured during the course of a criminal joint enterprise. The understandable reaction might be: there must be some rule of public policy, reflecting public revulsion, which bars such a claim. The short answer is that there is not.

The government is considering an appeal (which must surely be on the cards). And the Daily Mail is very unhappy at this state of affairs: Brussels beware!

See Delaney v Secretary of State for Transport [2014] EWHC 1785 (QB).