White v White and The Motor Insurers Bureau: HL 1 Mar 2001

The requirements as to the extent of knowledge in the mind of a passenger sufficient to defeat a claim against the Motor Insurers Bureau, of the driver’s lack of insurance, was actual knowledge. The rules implemented a European Directive which required knowledge of the absence of insurance, and must be interpreted accordingly so as to restrict an exclusion from claiming to the possession of some information which led to a conclusion that the driver was not insured. Carelessness, or negligence as to whether the driver was insured was not knowledge, despite the wording of the English rules.
HL Lord Nicholls said: ‘The Court of Justice has stressed repeatedly that exceptions are to be construed strictly. Here, a strict and narrow interpretation of what constitutes knowledge for the purpose of article 1 is reinforced by the subject matter. The subject matter is compensation for damage to property or personal injury caused by vehicles. The general rule is that victims of accidents should have the benefit of protection up to specified minimum amounts, whether or not the vehicle which caused the damage was insured. The exception, therefore, permits a member state, contrary to the general rule, to make no provision for compensation for a person who has suffered personal injury or damage to property. Proportionality requires that a high degree of personal fault must exist before it would be right for an injured passenger to be deprived of compensation. A narrow approach is further supported by the other prescribed limitation on the permissible ambit of any exclusion: the person claiming compensation must have entered the vehicle voluntarily. The need for the passenger to have entered the vehicle voluntarily serves to confirm that the exception is aimed at persons who were consciously colluding in the use of an uninsured vehicle. And it can be noted that the Directive emphasises the exceptional nature of the exclusion of compensation by placing the burden of proving knowledge on the party who seeks to invoke the exception, namely, the institution responsible for paying compensation.’

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Cooke of Thorndon Lord Hope of Craighead Lord Scott of Foscote
Times 06-Mar-2001, Gazette 12-Apr-2001, [2001] UKHL 9, [2001] 2 All ER 43, [2001] 1 WLR 481, [2001] 1 LLR 679, [2001] 1 All ER (Comm) 1105, [2001] PIQR P20, [2001] 2 CMLR 1, [2001] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 679, [2001] RTR 25, [2001] Lloyds Rep IR 493
House of Lords, Bailii
Motor Insurers Bureau (Compensation of Victims of Uninsured Drivers) Agreement 1988, Second EEC Motor Insurance Directive 84/5/EEC
England and Wales
Appeal fromEvans v Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and Regions Motor Insurers’ Bureau CA 18-Jan-2001
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Cited by:
CitedMcMminn v McMinn and Another QBD 11-Apr-2006
The claimant had been severely injured in a car crash when his younger brother was driving. The driver did not have the owner’s permission to drive, and the insurer sought to avoid laibility.
Held: ‘insurers do not have to prove that the . .
CitedPhillips v Rafiq and Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) CA 13-Feb-2007
The MIB appealed from a judgment making it liable for an award of damages to the estate of the deceased who had been a passenger in a vehicle which he knew to be being driven without insurance. The estate had not sued the MIB directly, but first . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Road Traffic, Insurance

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.90472