The problem arises from the 2014 decision of the European Court of Justice in Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav. Mr Vnuk was injured in a Slovenian farmyard when he was knocked from a ladder by a trailer attached to a tractor. In short, the ECJ found that the tractor should have been insured, despite the fact that it was being used on private land for agricultural purposes, as it was a vehicle being used for a purpose “consistent with its normal function.”
Implications of the Ruling
This was a very surprising ruling as, in one fell swoop, it meant that this was a game changer (UK Government’s words). This is because it would have extended the scope of compulsory motor insurance in the UK. The Vnuk law would have required the likes of golf buggies, mobility scooters, quad bikes, ride-on lawnmowers, construction vehicles, agricultural vehicles, motor sports vehicles, electric bikes, fork-lift trucks, motorised ride-on children’s toys and dodgem cars to be insured wherever they were being used.
Insurance industry bodies rightly spoke of significant additional costs, impossible enforcement and, in any case, if an accident happened in the UK, it would have been covered through employers’ liability insurance or public liability insurance already available for risks on private land.
Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, confirmed over the weekend that the European Union’s hotly contested Vnuk law will not be adopted by the UK, as a result of the UK leaving the EU. The government announced that they believed the ruling would have produced nearly £2 billion in extra overall costs had the EU law been implemented in Great Britain. In terms of the impact on motorists, the law would have translated to an estimated £50 average annual increase in motor insurance costs.