Mr Justice Soole in the recent case of Lewis v Tindale & MIB (2018) has ruled on the scope of the MIB’s liability as an arm/ “emanation” of the state.

In this case the claimant (a pedestrian) suffered serious injuries in a collision with an uninsured vehicle whilst on private farmland. Proceedings were issued against the driver and the MIB (plus, in case of failure against the MIB, the Secretary of State for Transport– this was stayed pending resolution of the claim against the MIB).

The MIB did not dispute the driver’s full liability for the accident but contended that it had no contingent liability to the claimant under the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement because the accident and injures were not caused by or arising out of the use of the vehicle on a road or other public place. Therefore, the question was whether the MIB had any liability and trial was set down for this preliminary issue.

Soole J, after careful consideration of previous authority and applying the European Court of Justice judgments in in Vnuk (Case C-162/13) and Farrell v. Whitty (No.2) (Case C-413/15), ruled that:-

  • An accident on private land was not a liability which was required to be insured against pursuant to Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988
  • However, it was a liability which the MIB is obliged to satisfy pursuant to Directive 2009/103/EC (at least to the extent of the minimum requisite cover of €1 million per victim)
  • the MIB was an arm/emanation of the state and therefore the provisions of the relevant EU Motor Insurance Directives have direct effect

A question which is likely to be raised is whether the minimum cover of €1 million is in breach of the EU law principle of equivalence since claimants who are injured on “road” benefit from unlimited damages.