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Field Fisher Waterhouse landmark Court of Appeal case win is likely to cost MIB millions


Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP (FFW) has won a landmark Court of Appeal case for widows which could potentially cost the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) millions of pounds each year.

The MIB compensates victims of negligent and uninsured motorists. Today’s judgment means that widows and dependent children of passengers killed whilst being driven by uninsured drivers may now be entitled to recover compensation from the MIB.

Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP was instructed by the widow of a passenger killed in a car accident. The widow’s husband died from catastrophic injuries in August 2002, whilst travelling on the M25 as a passenger in his own car. The driver, his friend, fell asleep. FFW brought claims for damages arising and the MIB was joined as a defendant because the driver was uninsured.

In its defence, the MIB argued that it should not be liable because the claimant’s husband, who was the owner of the car, knew that the driver was not insured. The MIB asserted that he would have been unable to recover damages from them had he survived because of an exclusion clause in the Uninsured Drivers Agreement 1999.

The case turned on the wording of the Uninsured Drivers Agreement and in particular on exactly what was meant by the word ‘claimant’. Andrew Ritchie, Counsel for the claimant argued that the widow was not excluded.

Last year the High Court ruled that the MIB was liable to satisfy judgment against the uninsured driver. Judge Seymour Q.C. held that the exclusion clause applied to passengers with guilt knowledge. The claimant, the widow in this case, was not a passenger, and so the exclusion clause did not apply to her.

The MIB decided to appeal but today the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court. This landmark decision is likely to cost the MIB millions of pounds in compensation, as there are a number of these fatal road accident cases that come up each year and damages range from one hundred thousand to two million pounds.

Paul McNeil, partner specialising in personal injury claims at FFW, said:
“This is an extremely significant result for my client, who lost her husband, and deserves to be compensated.”

Andrew Ritchie, Counsel for the widow also added:
“The claim is significant for a number of innocent widows and children up and down the country who are now able to bring claims against the MIB rather than eking out a living on state benefits.”

For further information please contact:
Paul McNeil
Personal Injury Practice
Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP
35 Vine Street
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7861 4000


Notes for Editors:

The original court number was HQO5X02258
The Court of Appeal number is B/3/2006/1386


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