- Compulsory motor insurance won’t need to cover vehicles used only on private land.
- Effective 28th June 2022, the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act will nullify any retained European Union law relating to a ruling of a 2014 case.
Motor insurers may be able to reject claims (subject to policy terms) resulting from the use of vehicles on private land when new legislation comes into effect. The Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022 had its final reading in the House of Lords on 25th April 2022. It received Royal Assent and will come into force on 28th June 2022.
The act is intended to remove the effects of a 2014 European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling termed “Vnuk law.”
The Vnuk Law Explained
Vnuk law arose from a 2014 ECJ decision in the matter of Damijan Vnuk v. Zavarovalnica Trigalev (C-162/13). The case concerned Damijan Vnuk, a Slovenian farmer who was knocked off his ladder by a reversing tractor on private land. The court considered the definition of “vehicles” and the meaning of Article 3 (1) of the First Directive on Motor Insurance (72/166/EEC), which requires member states “to ensure that civil liability in respect of the use of vehicles normally based on its territory is covered by insurance.”
The ECJ deemed that compulsory insurance was required for vehicles, whether on public or private land. Consequently, this decision—Vnuk’s law—set a precedent, opening the possibility for a wider range of vehicles needing road traffic cover, such as forklift trucks and ride-on lawnmowers.
The ECJ’s ruling was in contrast to the scope of the UK’s Road Traffic Act 1998, which has a more limited definition of “motor vehicle” and is restricted to accidents on roads and other public places.
According to the Government Actuary’s Department, implementing the Vnuk ruling would have cost approximately £2 billion. Instead—and embracing post-Brexit freedoms—the government decided to bring in the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act to nullify any retained European Union law. From the 28th June, the act will return the UK to its original, pre-Vnuk stance. Compulsory motor insurance will only be required for a more restricted class of vehicles on a road or public place. It won’t need to cover vehicle use on private land.
It’s important that organisations review the new legislation to ensure any implications are fully understood. If an employee operating a vehicle on private land has an accident, their compulsory insurance may not cover this. As such, employers should review their fleet policies to ensure they have adequate cover for incidents on private land.