This tale concerns the case of Vnuk, a Slovenian farm worker who, in 2007, suffered personal injuries when he was struck by a reversing farm trailer being propelled by a farm tractor.
Now for many years in the UK the duty to possess compulsory third party motor insurance cover only extended to the use of a motor vehicle on a road or on another public place and not on, for example, private farmland. There has been no obligation to possess such insurance for the use of a motor vehicle on private land.
Our compulsory insurance for motor vehicles rules are found within the Road Traffic Act 1988. However, since a 1972 EEC Directive, the EEC has required member states to make national laws imposing an obligation on a driver to possess compulsory third party insurance.
The 1988 national UK law limits the duty to having insurance for the use of a motor vehicle on a road or public place. In other words, the use of a motor vehicle on a field did not require insurance if the field was not a public place. In Vnuk, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided that the 1972 Directive applied to the normal use of a motor vehicle on land anywhere. So, there is a discrepancy between what EEC law requires and what national law provides.
If a person is injured by a 4×4 on an off-road excursion he has two options. Firstly, the injured person can claim directly against the driver and the insurer of the motor vehicle requiring national law to be interpreted in accordance with the relevant EEC directive from 1972 and, secondly, he could claim against the UK Government for failing to properly implement EEC rules.
So a 4×4 driver venturing off road would not only need their mud-terrain tyres and winching kit but also a policy of insurance which covers injury to a third party from off-road use and how many current policies applicable to 4×4 s do that?
What if a farmer has a trusty old Defender which he uses only to get from the farm to his fields without ever going onto a road? That use must now be insured.