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It Wasn’t Me Driving – Honest Guv!

The case of Cameron v Liverpool Insurance Co Ltd recently went to the Supreme Court to consider whether the victim of a hit-and-run collision is entitled to bring a claim for damages against an unnamed Defendant, when the third party vehicle is covered by an insurance policy.

In this case, the Claimant’s car was written off and both she and her passengers suffered minor personal injuries. The driver of the Micra did not stop, but its number plate was taken down by a passing driver. The Micra was registered and the subject of an insurance policy with Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited (LV). The Claimant therefore issued proceedings against the registered keeper of the vehicle, believing him to be the driver involved, with LV added as a co-defendant. The registered keeper was not the driver but declined to identify the driver and has been convicted of failing to do so.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal and found that proceedings cannot be brought against the untraced driver in circumstances where they will never be able to be located or communicated with and therefore they will be unable to be exercise their fundamental right to defend themselves.

This decision reaffirms the position that the framework for compensating the victims of untraced drivers is through the Motor Insurers Bureau's "Untraced Drivers Agreement” process.

This issue has long been a cause for concern for Claimants who cannot identify the negligent driver in a collision. As the innocent victim, they are left to bring a claim against the MIB, and the Untraced Drivers Agreement prevents them from recovering all of their losses.

Rather than supporting a "fraudsters charter” as had been suggested by some on the insurance side of the fence, this in turn could support a "rogue’s charter” so anyone involved in a road traffic accident that "scarpers” before being identified, can simply deny being the driver of the vehicle and get away with it. No need to apply that fundamental right to defend themselves then.

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