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Landmark case of young man who suffered a severe head injury after allowing his uninsured friend to drive his car

Potter Rees Dolan was successful in Court of Appeal case which will hopefully benefit future Claimants across the UK

Ben was driving with two friends when he allowed one of them to drive instead which resulted in an accident and Ben suffering a severe head injury.

The case involved a debate over insurance cover and the liability of the insurer when giving permission for someone else to drive their vehicle.

This second judgment was given in August 2012 which acknowledged that RTA insurers could not automatically deny insurance cover to accident victims when the driver wasn't names on the policy.

However, the judgment also allowed RTA insurers to discount the cover to reflect the ‘blameworthiness’ of the accident victim in giving this permission even though this did not cause or contribute to the accident itself.

The Court of Appeal did not state what the discount should be or how it should be calculated and instead anticipated that this would evolve through judicial decision making.

The Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court then gave permission for Ben to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

Hugh Potter, Partner at Potter Rees Dolan who acted on Ben's behalf, said at the time:

I was delighted that the Appeals Panel gave my client, Ben Wilkinson, permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal decision to impose what is effectively a non statutory tariff for reducing compensation.

I know from the responses of solicitors up and down the country that there are many others who would be affected.

As a consequence, there was no consideration by the Supreme Court of the Judgment made by the Court of Appeal on its second hearing of the case.

Specifically its finding that a Claimant’s damages can be reduced in circumstances where the Claimant has permitted another to drive the Claimant’s vehicle when that driver is not covered by the Claimant’s own insurance policy.

Potter Rees Dolan's approach was that if any deduction were to be made, it should be no more than 25% for the most culpable Claimant such as one who knew the driver was not covered by his own policy and the driver was not covered by any other policy.

On the day of the judgment, Hugh Potter added:

I am very pleased that Ben’s claim has settled today. Ben and his father and litigation friend are delighted.

This is a landmark case. It is a little frustrating that we have not been able to obtain a judgement of the Supreme Court on the novel point of law raised as a side issue by the Court of Appeal second time around.

However, as a result of Ben’s case, the substantial unfairness of the operation of s151(8) RTA will no longer happen and future Claimants will undoubtedly benefit.

Potter Rees Dolan was successful in compensation for Ben but the terms of settlement are confidential to both parties but Ben's costs, including those relating to both Court of Appeal and the European Court, will be paid by the Defendant insurance company.

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