Dr Nicholas Bevan

Dr Nicholas Bevan

Monday, 20 April 2015

The New Law Journal has generously given my latest article, ‘No Through Road’ front cover status. 


The article explains why the Court of Appeal’s decision in Delaney v Secretary of State for Transport [2015] EWCA Civ 172 has much wider implications than the immediate case facts might suggest. It reveals that the writing has been on the wall for successive Governments since 1996 that its national law provision for guaranteeing the compensatory entitlement of motor accident victims was in need of a fundamental overhaul, following the Court of Justice ruling in Bernaldez, (Case C-129/94).  Hitherto I have been a lone voice in my criticism of the Court of Appeal for not applying what has become known as the Bernaldez principle when interpreting the United Kingdom’s flawed implementation of the European directives on motor insurance.  The Court of Appeal has now confirmed in the clearest possible terms that the underlying rationale in Bernaldez, of protecting accident victims, has a general application. In doing so it has departed from its earlier, unanimous, decision in EUI v Bristol Alliance Partnership [2012] EWCA Civ 1267 that Bernaldez was relegated to its own facts.  The Department of Transport’s trenchant insistence that our national law provision in this area is fully compliant with European law is exposed, once again, as patently false.  The Minister must act now or face the prospect of numerous expensive legal challenges as the legal profession wake up to the reality that our national law provision in this area is in a state of shambles.

The full text of the article can be downloaded from the New Law Journal’s subscription website

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Those lovely people from Barker Brooks have released a video of my presentation on the forthcoming reforms to third party motor insurance requirement. Click on the image below if you wish to view it or alternatively read the paper I presented, following the link in the preceding post.

Our national law provision for guaranteeing the compensatory entitlement of innocent accident victims is in a state of flux.  It contains numerous defects that expose victims to the vagaries of the insurer / policyholder relationship that undermines the original 1930 Parliamentary intention of protecting victims' rights.

Successive governments have scarified the rights of this particularly vulnerable category of citizen, injured motor accident victims, to expediency, in a way that serves the commercial interests of motor insurers.  Fortunately for us, European Union law imposes certain minimum standards that member states are obliged to conform to.

After nearly two decades of inaction, the Government is being forced to address at least some of the failings in its domestic provision.  This is the result to two recent decisions, one from the Court of Justice of the European Union (Damijan Vnuk) the other from the Court of Appeal (Delaney).  See my earlier posts for details.

We are likely to have a further round of consultation, later this year. The Minister for Transport's earlier consultation reviewing the MIB Agreements in February 2013 was abandoned.  We were not informed why but it seems plausible that he simply failed to procure the insurance industries agreement to the proposed reforms.

These reforms will involve changes to Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and to both the Uninsured  Drivers Agreement 1999 Untraced Drivers Agreement 2003. We cannot count on the reforms addressing all the various failings in our national law implementation of the European directives on motor insurance.

One of these cases achievements is to confirm that the principle that we are all equal under the law; even ministers and insurance magnates.

So it is imperative that every practitioner in this field has a basic knowledge of this superior European law.  It is not possible to advise clients competently on their direct right to compensation from an insurer or the MIB without a basic understanding of European law principles, the key provisions within the directives and an awareness both of the Court of Justice's own interpretation of those provisions. As a profession, we should be insisting on a European law consistent interpretation of our national law whenever an insurer or the Motor Insurers Bureau seek to rely on an conflicting UK provision to avoid their liability. We have been used to comparative law in the context of human rights, employment and health and safety for many years; now, if rather belatedly, it is the turn of motor insurance liability.