Monday, 29 July 2013
HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL; SO NOTHING TO TELL?
I recently served a detailed request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the Department for Transport. I judged this necessary to enable those of us who are campaigning to reform our national law provision for victims of motor vehicles to contribute to a proper assessment of the impact that our defective national law provision is having on ordinary members of the public who are affected.
Unfortunately the Department’s response failed to provide most of the statistical data I asked for. The fact that the Department does not have a clue as to how many road accident victims fall foul of the numerous exclusions and limitations of liability that pepper Part VI of the Road Traffic Act and the two MIB Agreements is, in itself, highly informative. It suggests that scant consideration can have been given on the need for the imposition of so many arbitrary strike out clauses and other departures from the minimum standards of compensatory guarantee required under European Community law. It demonstrates that the Department is unaware of the impact that these unlawful provisions have on the individuals that the compensatory guarantee scheme is supposed to protect. As my information request indicated, this ‘is the kind of information that a responsible department would be likely to possess in order to properly discharge its duties of supervising and monitoring the activities of an outsourced service provider, particularly where they concern the justiciable rights of individuals’.
At present, the Department appears to be lumping the 1.2 million ‘uninsured’ drivers that plaque our roads into a single homogeneous group. They have no idea how many of these comprise (i) drivers of cars with absolutely no insurance in place; (ii) hit and run drivers (who might have had some) or (iii) drivers of vehicles where there is some cover in place but the insurers are arguing (often wrongly) that the policyholder’s breach of contract entitles them to treat the claim as though it were an uninsured driver claim.
The Department for Transport say they are now seeking some of this information from the MIB but that because the MIB are not a government department, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply. This ignores the fact that whilst the MIB is a private company limited by guarantee it is also just as clear from its own constitution and from the terms of the MIB Uninsured and Untraced Drivers Agreements that it is under the Department’s control and supervision. Accordingly such data as the MIB possess that relates to these issues has always been within the control of the Department to access and disclose. The Department has been invited to reconsider its position.