Determination of victim’s compensation on the basis of law of state in which accident occurred

Supreme Court of United Kingdom: The question that come for consideration of Court was whether a claim to damages against the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau was to be determined in accordance with English or Greek law, where the respondent had been injured by an uninsured driver while on holiday in Greece.

Various EU Directives, transposed into English law by the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensation Body) Regulations 2003 ensured that compensation was available for victims of motor accidents occurring anywhere within the EU. The scheme provided that victims could claim compensation directly from the designated compensation body in their own member state, in certain circumstances.

Two questions which were taken up in this appeal was whether the Directives prescribe any particular approach to the scope or measure of recovery applicable in a claim against a compensation body under article 7 of the Fourth Directive (article 25(1) of the Sixth Directive). The second is if they do, whether the language of Regulation 13(2)(b) of the 2003 Regulations reflects this approach, or mandates some different approach, whatever the Directives may have required.

As to the first question, viewed as a whole, the Directives were and are a scheme of which the constant aim has been to improve the prospects and ease with which injured parties can recover the compensation to which they are “entitled” in respect of any loss or damage caused by vehicles. The inference is that the victim of a motor accident is entitled to the same compensation, whether against the driver responsible, his or her insurer, or, that failing, against the motor insurance bureau of the State of the accident or indeed the compensation body established in the victim’s state of residence.

The Directives do not leave it to individual member states to provide for compensation in accordance with any law that such states may choose. On the contrary, they proceed on the basis that a victim’s entitlement to compensation will be measured on a consistent basis, by reference to the law of the state of the accident, whichever of the routes to recovery provided by the Directives he or she invokes.

Lord Mance while giving the lead judgment, with which the other Justices agreed found that the Directives proceeded on the basis that a victim’s compensation was to be measured on a consistent basis, by reference to the law of the state where the accident occurred. This position in EU law was clear. As to the second question, the 2003 Regulations were consistent with the Directives. The reference in Regulation 12(2)(b) to recovery “under the laws applying in the part of the United Kingdom in which the injured party resided at the date of the accident” was to determine which of the UK’s three legal systems should apply. It did not refer to the measure of recovery. [Moreno v The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, [2016] 1 WLR 3194, decided on August 3, 2016]

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