On appeal from: [2017] EWCA Civ 366

This appeal considered whether a claimant is entitled to bring a claim for damages against an unnamed defendant if the claimant has been the victim of an unidentified hit-and-run driver, and the car the unidentified driver was driving is covered by an insurance policy, albeit one in the name of someone untraceable.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal. The Court considered that it is a fundamental feature of the statutory scheme of compulsory insurance in the UK that it does not confer on victims a direct right of recovery against an insurer for the underlying liability of the driver. The Court held that the only direct right against the insurer is the right to require it to satisfy a judgment against the driver once their liability has been established in legal proceedings. Because judgment cannot be obtained against a driver who cannot be identified, the only recourse in that instance is against the Motor Insurance Bureau, not the insurer.

The Court held that it is a fundamental principle of justice that a person cannot be made subject to the jurisdiction of the court without having such notice of the proceedings as will enable a fair hearing. As such, ordinary service on the insurer would not constitute service on the driver, alternative service could not be expected to reach the driver of the Micra, and it would not be appropriate to dispense with service under the CPRs. Finally, the Court held that no point on the Sixth Motor Insurance Directive arose. Therefore, the Court allowed the appeal of the insurer, finding that the respondent cannot claim against them but has recourse from the Motor Insurance Bureau.

For judgment, please download: [2019] UKSC 6
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (28 Nov 2018 morning session) (28 Nov 2018 afternoon session)