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Should Injured Criminals be Compensated? Court Considers

Published: 10 February 2015, in categories: Personal Injury Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

In a case which puts into high relief potential conflicts between UK and European law, the Department for Transport (DfT) is challenging a judge’s ruling that it must compensate a drug dealer who was gravely injured in a road accident.

After the man was cut from the wreckage of a crashed car, a football-sized lump of cannabis fell from his jacket. The Motor Insurers' Bureau, the industry body which compensates victims of uninsured drivers, refused him a payout for his very serious injuries on the basis that he knew, or ought to have known, that the vehicle was being used 'in the course or furtherance of a crime' (the crime exception).

A judge subsequently ruled that the crime exception conflicted with the terms of the European Motor Insurance Directive and that the failure to ensure uniformity between UK and EU law was neither inadvertent nor excusable. The DfT was found to be in serious breach of its EU law obligations and was ordered to compensate the accident victim in full.

In challenging that ruling before the Court of Appeal, DfT lawyers argued that the finding of incompatibility was wrong in law and involved a misinterpretation of the Directive. Alternatively, it was submitted that any breach was not sufficiently serious to render the DfT liable to pay compensation. The Court will give its ruling on the case at a later date.

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