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Friday, 13 February 2015
THE CASE FOR REFORM
Two years have passed since the Department for Transport's abortive review on reforming the Motor Insurance Bureau Agreements. These are supposed to ensure that the compensatory entitlement of motor accident victims is not jeopardised by the driver at fault being under-insured, having no insurance at all or for failing to stop.
The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) is supposed to compensate victims in an equivalent and effective way and to the same level that a victim would expect from a fully insured defendant motorist. Unfortunately both arrangements as well as the statutory framework for the compulsory third party insurance requirement are badly flawed. Successive minsters have granted the motor insurers numerous concessions that allow insurers and the MIB to reduce or evade liability completely. This undermines the original Parliamentary intention at the time the initial scheme was set up in 1930 and it also defies common sense as it exposes law abiding citizens to the risk of recovering nothing and in the case of serious injury, forcing them to become a burden on their relatives, their local authority and on the State.
The minister's February 2013 consultation was abandoned after his deeply flawed proposals were revealed for what they in the consultation responses. The minister was reminded that our entire national law provision in this area was riddled with loopholes that favoured motor insurer's commercial interests at the expense of the victims that the various schemes was supposed to protect. He was told that urgent and wide-spread reform was necessary. More to the point, the minister was advised that the defects conflict with the minimum standards of compensatory safeguards required under European law.
The minister's promised a detailed report that has never materialised, yet he cynically agreed the MIB's request to amend the Untraced Drivers Agreement 2003 within just 4 days of the consultation period expiring in April 2013, to excludes a victim's right to recover property damage unless the victim has been hospitalised for four or more days. This proposal, which was not mentioned in the ministers consultation paper, abolished the right to recovery property damage in an untraced driver claim in all but a tiny minority of cases. This is inconsistent with European law.
In my article, Changing Gear, published in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers journal PI Focus, I argue the case for reform and urge personal injury lawyers to undertake an urgent audit of their know-how and case management software as much of our national law provision, including our case law, cannot be taken at face value as it conflicts with superior European law.
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