Gurtner v Circuit: CA 1968

The Court described the gap in provision for the recovery of damages for injury where the driver of a vehicle was uninsured: ‘if (a) the defendant was not insured at the time of the accident or (b) his policy of insurance was avoided in the circumstances specified in section 10(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1934 for non-disclosure or misrepresentation or (c) his insurer too was insolvent. To fill this gap the insurers transacting compulsory motor vehicle insurance business in Great Britain, acting in agreement with the Minister of Transport, formed a company, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, to assume liability to satisfy judgments of these three kinds. But instead of amending the legislation so as to impose upon the Motor Insurers’ Bureau a statutory liability to the unsatisfied judgment creditor as had been done by the Road Traffic Act, 1934, in respect of the liability of insurers to satisfy judgments against defendants covered by a valid policy of insurance, the matter was dealt with by an agreement of June 17, 1946, between the Minister of Transport and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. To this contract, for that is all that it is in law, no unsatisfied judgment creditor is a party. Although clearly intended by both parties to be for the benefit of such creditors, the Minister did not enter into it otherwise than as a principal. He was not purporting to act as agent so as to make it capable in law of ratification by those whom it was intended to benefit. Many of them were not born at the time when it was made. The only person entitled to enforce the contract is the Minister. I do not doubt that upon the principle accepted by the House of Lords in Beswick v Beswick [1968] AC 58 the Minister could enforce it by obtaining a judgment for specific performance which, once obtained, could be enforced against the bureau by the unsatisfied judgment creditor in whose favour the order for specific performance was made. But the Minister is the only party entitled to bring an action to enforce the contract. It confers no right of action against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau upon any unsatisfied judgment creditor.’
Diplock LJ: ‘A matter in dispute is not in my view effectually and completely adjudicated upon unless the rules of natural justice are observed and all those it will be liable to satisfy the judgment are given an opportunity to be heard.’

Diplock LJ
[1968] 2 QB 587
Road Traffic Act 1934 810(3)
England and Wales
DisapprovedAmon v Raphael Tuck and Sons Ltd 1956
The court analysed the circumstances under which additional parties might be joined to an action by a defendant, applying a narrow interpretation. The court considered whether a defendant may be added against the parties’ wishes: ‘There are two . .

Cited by:
CitedBalkanbank v Naser Taher and Others QBD 13-Feb-1995
The plaintiff had obtained a worldwide Mareva injunction, giving an undertaking for damages. On its discharge, the defendants sought to make a counterclaim. The defendant company and its subsidiaries sought to counterclaim for their damages suffered . .
CitedHumber Work Boats Ltd v ‘Selby Paradigm’, Owners of Mv and others AdCt 23-Jul-2004
The barge had become holed when run aground and then repaired. The repair was faulty, and it sank. The insurers rejected the claim saying that the owners had failed to disclose a report showing areas of thinning of the hull. The underwriters sought . .
CitedCameron v Liverpool Victoria Insurance Co Ltd SC 20-Feb-2019
The Court was asked in what circumstances is it permissible to sue an unnamed defendant? The respondent was injured when her car collided with another. The care was insured but by a driver giving a false name. The car owner refused to identify him. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Road Traffic, Insurance

Updated: 10 January 2022; Ref: scu.200494