The Court of Appeal has held that victims resident in Great Britain who were injured by uninsured motorists in other EEA states are to have their compensation which is payable by the Motor Insurers Bureau assessed by reference to English law and not by the law of the place where the accident occurred.
Clinton Jacobs was standing in a car park in Fuengirola, Spain when an uninsured vehicle collided with him, causing Mr Jacobs to suffer significant personal injury. The vehicle was driven by a Herr Bartsch (a German national understood to have a residence in Spain), who had no policy of insurance for the vehicle. Instead of suing the Spanish Guarantee Fund, which would have required him to sue in Spain where he would have recovered Spanish levels of compensation (substantially lower than English levels of compensation), he brought proceedings in England against the MIB as Compensation Fund appointed for the purposes of the Fourth Motor Insurance Directive (2000/26/EC).
The Court of Appeal (Laws, Moore-Bick and Rimer LJJ) reached their decision on the basis that the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensation Body) Regulations 2003, which gave effect in English law to the Fourth Directive, provided that the compensation was to be assessed as if the accident had happened in Great Britain. At first instance, Mr Justice Owen had held ( EWHC 231) that Spanish law applied because, while the meaning of the 2003 Regulations was clear, the doctrine of supremacy arising from European law, meant that the Rome II Regulation (Regulation 864/2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations) in effect trumped the English regulations.
The Claimant upheld the Claimant’s principal argument that the cause of action against the MIB did not involve a choice of law, and hence it was not necessary to refer to the Rome II Regulation. The Claimant also argued if a choice of law was involved, then the 2003 regulations specified what that choice was, alternatively if Rome II applied, then properly analysed Article 4(2) rather than Article 4(1) was the correct provision of Rome II to assess the Claimant’s claim.
Having upheld the Claimant’s principal argument the Court of Appeal held that it was not necessary to address the alternative arguments under Rome II; but it rejected an argument by the MIB that awarding compensation according to English principles would be wrong because would separate assessment of compensation from the liability of the driver or an insurer of the driver.
The MIB applied unsuccessfully for permission to appeal. It is not known if they will renew that application before the Supreme Court
Alexander Layton QC appeared with Philip Mead for the Claimant, instructed by Kimberley Owen at Russell Jones & Walker, London.
 EWCA Civ 1208