After a very short familiarisation with the motorcycle I was put on the road. I was with an instructor, and as I came to a junction I made a bit of a mess of coming to a halt at a give way line, and pulled the front brake too hard, skittled the bike over, and caused what I am told was £685 worth of damage.

I was told I would have to pay for the damage to the bike, and they immediately asked me, whilst still in a state of shock, for my debit card, which I gave to him. They took £685. It was only after I had signed up and paid for the course I was told I would have to sign a disclaimer which meant that I would have to pay for any damage to the motorcycle.

The Driving Standards Agency they tell me this is extremely unusual. The school that I was with have said that they cannot afford to pay for all of the damage that trainees do to motorcycles otherwise their insurance premiums would be too high, but surely they must know that their motorcycles will be used by people who do not know how to ride motorcycles because that is the reason why they are there.

I am down £1,100, I have no motorcycle license, and can’t afford to continue in case I crash again. I asked for a partial refund of the course fees, as I have not had all the tuition I have paid for. He said that the only refund I would get is £80, which is the cost of the module 1 and 2 tests which I have not done yet. I have no faith in this school anymore, and whilst I still want to pass my motorcycle test I do not want to do it with these people. What should I do?

Jamie, Chippenham

You should sue the school through the Small Claims Court – it’s a pretty simple case, and you don’t even need a solicitor to represent you.

You relied on the trainer’s expertise and judgment before you went out on the road. He should have satisfied himself, because he owes you the duty of a teacher to a student that you were at least reasonably safe to go out on the road. If he got that judgment call wrong, provided that you did not do something which was grossly against that which you were advised or completely unforeseeable, then he owes you a duty of care to make sure you do not go out on the road when your control of the motorcycle is inadequate. From what you tell me you spent less than a couple of hours off the road, which is nowhere near enough time to learn how to control a motorcycle. Secondly, you signed a disclaimer after you handed the money over, which in contract law means that there has been post contractual conditions, which are unenforceable. You should win this easily.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes Magazine – January 2010

Andrew Dalton has been writing articles for Fast Bikes Magazine for a considerable period and have condensed what we believe are the most useful articles to you. White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors deal with personal injury claims and our sister company, Motor Defence Solicitors, deal with any road traffic offences.