Kieran Coleman writes on Moreno v The Motor Insurers Bureau [2016] UKSC 52



In a claim for compensation against the MIB for an accident occurring in a European Member State, the measure of damages should be assessed by reference to the law of the Member State where the accident occurred.

Jacobs v Motor Insurers Bureau [2010] EWCA Civ 1208 and Bloy v Motor Insurers Bureau [2013] EWCA Civ 1543 overruled.

The Claimant was on holiday in Greece, walking along the verge of a road when she was struck by a vehicle registered in Greece which caused her serious injuries. The driver did not have a valid licence or insurance and liability was admitted.

The claim was brought against the MIB under the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensation Body) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/37) which transposed a series of European Directives.

One of the effects of the 2003 Regulations was that the Claimant could pursue a claim against the MIB rather than the driver of the vehicle. The MIB could in turn seek compensation from the Greek compensation body, their equivalent MIB, once the Claimant had been compensated.

The question for the appeal was whether the measure of damages was to be determined with reference to English or Greek Law.

The Claimant argued that the regulations provided for English law to govern the measure of recovery, following Jacobs v Motor Insurers Bureau [2010] EWCA Civ 1208 and Bloy v Motor Insurers Bureau [2013] EWCA Civ 1543.

The court approached the question looking first at the scheme the European Directives envisioned, in a holistic review the court noted the scheme for compensation created an inference that the compensation a claimant was entitled to should be the same regardless of whether they sought a claim against the driver, their insurer or a body such as the MIB. The court noted that the approach in Jacobs permitted a variance in the amount of recovery dependent on who the claimant sought to pursue. For example, the measure of damages for a claimant pursuing a driver in Greece would be that applicable for Greek law. Whereas the measure of damages for a claimant who, for whatever reason, sought compensation from a body such as the MIB regarding the same accident would be that provided for by the law of England and Wales.

Articles of the relevant European Directives included provision for an agreement to be reached between compensation bodies, such as the MIB, of the various Member States. The court noted that the agreement which was concluded included a clause for a compensation body in the state of the accident to provide advice, assistance and information on the content of the applicable law to the compensation body of the victim. The court considered the rationale of that clause was to enable a victim’s compensation body, i.e. the MIB, to settle the claim in accordance with the law of where the accident took place. The court also noted provisions in the Fourth Directive which dealt with compulsory insurance which pointed toward a link between the compensation available in the state of the accident and that which the victim was entitled to. Lastly the court noted that the Jacob’s analysis meant there would be no correlation between the amount that the MIB would compensate the Claimant and the amount the MIB could seek back from the Greek compensation body.

The court concluded that the victim’s entitlement to compensation should be measured by reference to the law of the Member State where the accident took place. No reference to the European Court of Justice was made. Jacobs and Bloy were overruled in relation to the meaning of regulation 13(2)(b), of the 2003 regulations, and the scope of the MIB’s liability to the claimant was to be determined in accordance with the law of Greece.

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