Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly


Margaret Hemsworth *


157. Colley v Motor Insurers’ Bureau 1

Motor—Motor Insurance Directive 2009—extent of responsibility of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau
The issue on the appeal was whether the responsibility of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) (as an emanation of the state under EU law) extends to a claim for personal injury sustained by a claimant while a passenger in a motor vehicle when the driver, as was then known to the claimant, was uninsured, although there had been a policy in existence which had subsequently been avoided. The point of law arising concerned the interpretation of Art.3 of the consolidated Motor Insurance Directive 2009 (“the 2009 Directive”).2 The accident had occurred prior to the exit of the UK from the EU but the 2009 Directive for the time being continues to form part of English law, as retained EU law.3
At first instance, the issue had been determined in favour of the claimant: where there is a policy of insurance in being as at the date of the accident, notwithstanding that it may be subsequently avoided, the claimant has a right to compensation arising on the liability as established under national law in accordance with EU law. The MIB, as an emanation of the state, is obliged to meet the claim because of a failure by the state to ensure that national law complies with EU law. The MIB appealed.
Decision: Appeal dismissed: the decision at first instance was correct.
Held: (1) Under national law at the time of the accident, the insurer had been entitled to avoid the policy by reason of misrepresentation; avoidance had been sought only after the accident under the Road Traffic Act 1988, s.152(2). The entitlement to avoid had been amended with effect from 1 November 2019:4 an insurer is henceforth able to avoid responsibility only for accidents which occur after the declaration of avoidance has been obtained. Otherwise, an insurer is responsible under the Road Traffic Act 1988, s.151 to meet claims where liability is established against the driver, and whether or not s/he is insured to drive the vehicle.

English Insurance Law


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