Yesterday, the Court of Appeal gave an important judgment in the case of Cameron -v- Hussain  EWCA Civ 366. The Court decided that the driver of an insured vehicle did not have to be named in order to for obligation of the insurer to satisfy a judgment under Section 151 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to arise.
In this instance, the claimant was injured in a hit and run collision. The registered keeper was identified but he was not the insured driver. There was only one insured driver on the policy. When it transpired that the registered keeper was not the driver of the vehicle, the claimant added the insurer as a defendant and sought satisfaction of any judgment from them.
The insurer applied for summary judgment on the basis that the driver had not been identified. In response, the claimant applied to substitute the registered keep for the generic description of “The person unknown driving vehicle registration number Y598 SPS who collided with vehicle registration number KG03 ZIZ on 26th May 2013”.
The application was dismissed and summary judgment entered. This was upheld on appeal.
The Court of Appeal had to decide the following issues:
i. Whether the insurer would be liable to satisfy a judgment obtained against an unidentified person pursuant to Section 151;
ii. Whether the proceedings could only be issued against unnamed persons in exceptional circumstances; and
iii. Whether the claimant was precluded from pursuing an unnamed driver because the MIB provided recourse by way of the Unnamed Drivers Agreement.
In relation to the first issue it was held that an insurer’s liability under s.151 was not dependent upon the identification of the driver. The insurer would be liable in such circumstances unless they could demonstrate that the vehicle was not actually covered. The basis for this decision was the insurer had to bear the economic risk that uninsured people may drive the vehicle and drivers may not be located.
In relation to the second issue, proceedings against unnamed persons were not limited to express situations listed in the CPR. The list was not exhaustive. There was no reason in principle why should proceedings couldn’t be brought in appropriate cases, it was not limited to exceptional circumstances.
The alternative resolution provided by the MIB was no bar to pursuing an unnamed driver. The claimant had a substantive right to judgment against such a person. It would be unjust to deny that right on the basis of an alternative remedy, particularly where it was less advantageous.
A full judgment can be found here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2017/366.html
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