Fork lift trucks, mobility scooters, electric pedal cycles, golf buggies, motorsports vehicles, ride-on lawn mowers, fairground rides and motorised children’s toys are just some of the ‘newly in-scope vehicles’ which could require compulsory 3rd party insurance as a consequence of the European Court of Justice judgment in the case of Mr Damijan Vnuk.

The ‘Vnuk judgment’ traces back to an accident in 2007, in which Mr Vnuk was knocked off a ladder by a tractor-drawn trailer on a Slovenian farm (‘Opinion of Advocate General ECJ: Vnuk v Triglav: 26 February 2014’).

While the Slovenian court rejected his initial claim for damages, the ECJ ruled in 2014 that the Motor Insurance Directive requires a vehicle to have third party insurance “when its use is consistent with its normal function”.

This changed at a stroke what the UK – and other member states – had understood the directive to mean.

The ECJ’s interpretation of the Directive would necessitate new UK legislation that

  1. required a broader range of vehicles to hold 3rd party insurance
  2. extended the scope of required cover into places where there is no public access

The Dept for Transport consultation ‘Motor insurance: consideration of the ‘Vnuk judgment” points out that such changes would lead to increased insurance premiums for all UK motorists in order to cover additional costs/expenses incurred by the Motor Insurance Bureau. Land owners, promoters of motor sports and users of the newly in-scope vehicles would also face additional costs.

The consultation also reflects the UK’s unique problem of factoring its impending departure from the EU into its strategy for compliance. Consequently, it focuses on the following two options put forward by the Commission

  • a comprehensive option that reflects the ECJ’s interpretation of the directive, despite the UK government’s belief that it was ‘unfortunate’
  • an amended directive option based on the Commission’s public statement that it may seek to amend the directive to mitigate the effects of the Vnuk judgment

12 January 2017