MOTOR CLAIMS

The Arc team regularly provides media comment on relevant issues. Below is from an article published in the insurance trade publication, Post Magazine, on Motor Claims.

CAR CRASH LAW

Just as insurers get their heads round the European Union directives on cross-border motor claims, Rome II promises further clarification in January 2009. Stephanie Denton gives the legal low-down

Motor insurance claims involving European Union cross-border disputes have seen significant changes in the way they are handled by law in the past few years. These include the possibility for claimants to make claims in their home state rather than the country where the accident took place. The EU's fourth motor directive was introduced in 2003, updated with the fifth motor directive in 2005, and now further changes are being proposed in the form of Rome II, intended to bring harmony to cross-border legal cases.

Costs danger

However, Rebecca Conway, claims manager at Arc Legal Assistance, explains that, to date, there have been no EU cases seen in the UK courts of laws and so without it being tested no one is sure whether the English courts will agree or disagree with it, especially as some EU insurers are reluctant to accept these judgments: "Odenbreit indicates that clarification was needed but we also know that there are still foreign insurers that don't accept this. This is because they don't want cases heard in the UK as there is an increased risk of higher claims and legal costs."

She adds, however, that there are a significant number of cases being handled by UK solicitors - and thousands more in the pipeline - that could come to court some time in the near future.

And Ms Conway adds that damages will also be higher in the UK: "The current understanding is that if a UK claimant is involved in an accident in France then the case is heard under French limitation and French law in terms of the type of claim it is but they can get compensation according to English law.

"If UK claimants suffer an accident abroad then they would be best advised to pursue that claim in the UK court, as in the UK the levels of damages are higher than in other member states."

However, Ms Conway highlights that legal expense insurers will also be exposed to costs if a case fails: "Before in another country only a limited amount of costs were recoverable but you were also only exposed to a little but now it will be the full costs as usual with the UK system."

The full feature can be found at www.postonline.co.uk

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