Exciting times within the offices of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (‘MIB’), the body set up to compensate those injured by an uninsured or untraced driver. The MIB is in the midst of an Appeal to the Supreme Court (Morneo v Motor Insurer’s Bureau  EWHC 1002 (QB)) which, if the Court rules in the MIB’s favour, could significantly reduce its liability for claims concerning accidents occurring elsewhere in the EU.
Presently, under the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensation Body) Regulations 2003, a person resident in the UK injured elsewhere in the EU is entitled to compensation on the same basis as if the accident had occurred in the UK. This has greatly benefitted many claimants, as the laws in other EU countries are not as generous when it comes to compensating for injuries and resulting financial losses.
However, since the 2003 Regulations were brought into force, EU law has changed. The Rome II Convention which came into force in 2009 provides that claims as a result of road traffic accidents should be handled in accordance with the law of the country in which the accident occurred, as opposed to the law of the victim’s home country.
The UK Government has failed to implement a new law in England and Wales which reflects the EU Directive, and therefore despite protests from organisations such as the MIB, the Courts have continued to treat claims involving overseas accidents as if they occurred on home soil. The only Court capable of changing that is the Supreme Court, and the MIB will undoubtedly be hoping that the Court will feel bound to follow Rome II.
Whilst this could mean significant cost savings for the MIB, it would not be good news for UK residents injured abroad. Claims would be calculated in line with laws that apply to the location of the accident, which in some cases may not have the same attitude towards funding rehabilitation or compensating for financial losses.
Will pressure be placed on Europe to implement a uniform approach to personal injury cases? If the answer is yes, will states favour the more comprehensive system used in England and Wales, or a more restrictive approach? Many questions and uncertainties will no doubt arise as a result of the awaited decision on Morneo, with a potential windfall for motor insurers who fund the MIB through deductions from motor policies.