LCC Briefing on the draft European Insurance Directive

The facts

The EU proposals only relate to insurance, not to the underlying legal position in relation to liability. The proposals state that any driver has to have a minimum amount of cover in relation to certain eventualities, including causing personal injury to a cyclists. Eg any european driver's insurance policy must have a minimum amount of cover for causing possible personal injury to a cyclist.

[Quote from legislation:
The explanation for Article 4(2) Pedestrians & Cycles (see also para 14 Of the preamble) says:

"To avoid any possible confusion between insurance matters (scope of the insurance directives) and civil law (scope of national legislation), a recital states that the civil liability of pedestrians and cyclists must be governed by the applicable Member State legislation. In other words, the victim's injuries must, in principle, be covered by the vehicle insurance. This cover under the compulsory motor insurance of the vehicle does not determine the civil liability of the pedestrian or cyclist in a specific accident or the level of any award for damages. This should be governed by the applicable national legislation and the national courts."

Directive 90/232/EEC would have a new Article 1a extending the insurance in Article 3(1) of Directive 72/166/EEC to "personal injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists as a consequence of an accident in which a motor vehicle is involved, irrespective whether the driver is at fault."]

As the legal position in the UK is that the person suing has to prove the facts, (contrary to the position in many EU countries where the bigger vehicle is presumed responsible or where motorised vehicles are strictly liable for personal injuries to non-motorised road users) the proposed EU legislation would have no effect on those involved in crashes in the UK. It simply means that the current legal position stays the same (eg a cyclist involved in a crash where the car was at fault has to show the car was at fault), but that the driver has to have a certain amount of insurance to cover this potential liability.

The positive bits for us at LCC

- the debate has enabled us to raise the issue of motorised vehicles having to show a higher degree of care towards vulnerable road users, and may lead to a national campaign to change the legislation here to converge with the law in other European countries. We would want motor vehicles to have no fault liability in relation to personal injuries sustained by pedestrians and cyclists and a presumption that where there has been a collision, the larger or faster vehicle is to blame.

- if this European legislation comes in without significant changes, it would be a strong lever for change here which we could use in our lobbying of government. We would argue that it would be incoherent to have the proposed EU insurance in place but not have a change in the law here to reflect the general position in Europe.

Peter Lewis/Ralph Smyth September 9th 2002