When faced with a substantial car hire claim, finance companies would do well to put a business claimant to proof that the replacement car was reasonably needed.

This was the decision of the Court of Appeal in Singh v Yaqubi when the claimant claimed £92,953 in hire costs for a replacement Rolls Royce that he hired for 54 days for business purposes while his Rolls Royce was being repaired following an accident with the defendant.

The claimant had a fleet of six other prestigious cars for use by his business but required a replacement Rolls Royce to ensure the "correct impression" was maintained in his business circles.

However, the defendant put in issue whether the replacement was actually needed and therefore the cost of hire reasonably incurred, given the other vehicles available. The claimant failed to produce evidence as to what the Rolls Royce had been used for before the accident, or what the replacement vehicle had been used for during the hire period.

The Court of Appeal held that where need for a replacement vehicle has been put in issue, the onus is then on the claimant to establish that need, especially where such large sums are claimed. The court would not infer need. It would then be up to the defendant to show that that need had not been reasonably met.

The claimant had failed to adduce evidence to establish that need and the claim for the car hire costs therefore failed.

Things to consider

The position is somewhat different for private motorists who may not be able to predict what particular use may be made of the vehicle during the hire period. Businesses are expected to be able to do so, however.