Case BriefsForeign Courts

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]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of United Kingdom: In an appeal filed by a Landlord against the liability from failure to keep ‘paved area outside the building’ in repair as per the Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1985, the Court allowing the appeal, held that the landlord is not in breach of his statutorily implied obligation for carrying out repairs until he has the notice of the disrepair.

Section 11 of the 1985 Act applies to Sub-tenancy agreements and extends the landlord’s statutory repairing covenants to “keep in repair the structure and the exterior of the dwelling-house”. In the present case, the subtenant having tripped over an uneven stone on a paved way which was the main access to the building and suffered injuries, had brought action against the landlord for the breach of the provision. The Court of Appeals had allowed the case but in the present appeal the Court took a contrary view.

The Court held that the expressions of the obligations under the Section 11 should be given a natural meaning rather than an artificially wide one. It held that, the fact that a piece of property is a necessary means of access to a building cannot be sufficient for it to constitute part of the ‘exterior’ of that building. Therefore, the paved way did not fall within the ambit of the provision.  Moreover, the Court as an exception to the general principle upheld the rule that, the landlord is not liable under a covenant with his tenant to repair premises which are in the possession of the tenant and not of the landlord unless and until the landlord has notice of the disrepair. Relying on a number of cases which had earlier upheld the rule the Court held that the landlord  could only be held liable if he had had notice of the disrepair before the accident, which he did not have. In accordance with both the observation the appeal of the landlord was allowed. [Edwards  v. Kumarasamy  [2016] UKSC 40, decided on 13 July 2016]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of United Kingdom: The issue in this appeal is whether the mistreatment of migrant domestic workers who are vulnerable because of their precarious immigration status amounts to direct or indirect race discrimination. The Court while dismissing the appeal said that though these employees were treated disgracefully but they cannot be termed as race discrimination.

The appellant is Ms. Taiwo, who is a Nigerian National, who entered the United Kingdom to work for the respondents- she was not paid the minimum wages, was not given food, was physically and mentally abused by her employers. She was awarded compensation in respect of these claims but her racial discrimination claim was rejected by the Employment Tribunal. The second appellant, a Nigerian national, also had a similar case. The Employment Tribunal accepted all her claims including her racial discrimination one.

The Court unanimously dismissed the appeal on the grounds that though these employees were treated disgracefully, it was nothing to do with their Nigerian status. The reason why these employees were treated so badly was their particular vulnerability arising from their immigration status. The Court further added that the appeals have been dismissed not because these appellants do not deserve a remedy for all the grievous harms they have suffered. It is because the present law, although it can redress some of those harms, cannot redress them all. Parliament may well wish to address its mind to whether the remedy provided by Section 8 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 is too restrictive in its scope and whether an employment tribunal should have jurisdiction to grant some recompense for the ill-treatment meted out to workers such as these, along with the other remedies which it does have power to grant. [Taiwo v. Olaigbe and another; Onu v. Akwiwu and another, [2016] 1 WLR 2653 : [2016] UKSC 31, decided on 22.06.2016]