The person who knocked it over not only left me a note but managed to track me down by my registration number and emailed me directly. He even reported himself to the police, so an honest bloke.
I called my insurer who told me not to get my bike repaired on my comprehensive policy but put me in touch with an accident management company who whipped my bike away (it was rideable) and put me on a perfectly decent hire bike. I was told I would never have to pay for any of this about a dozen times and I should not use my policy otherwise I’d be loaded for years and I’d have to pay my £350 policy excess.
The hire cost is running into multiple thousands of pounds – way more than my bike was actually worth.
It now transpires my original bike had run out of MoT about six weeks before it was knocked over. The insurer for the other guy have said they will pay for the damage to my bike, but not for the hire on the basis my bike with a lapsed MoT was not lawfully allowed to be used and therefore I am claiming for a loss which was unlawful. The hire cost is running into multiple thousands of pounds – way more than my bike was actually worth.
Things have got very threatening. My so-called solicitors are telling me I owe the accident-management company for my hire as I signed a binding contract and the other guy’s insurers do not have to pay as I was riding my bike illegally and they have thrown some Latin at me. When asked why they did not advise me, they said that I was already “on hire” before they were instructed, it was not their business to advise on something in place.
Am I on the hook for a big hire bill for a bike I really did not need? I could have ridden my bike. I rode it home and it was scuffed, not broken?
Sadly you have been sucked into the credit-hire loop. The “so-called solicitors” appear to be wholly owned by the accident management company which seems to share a lot of directors with your insurers. So, you have been put into the mincer.
Your solicitors are registered with my professional body but unlike my firm, they operate as an ‘alternative business structure’ and appear to have just one qualified solicitor on the books who is also a director. My firm operates in the traditional way, with named partners who independently own the business and are not a limited company that they can just wrap up themselves If things get difficult.
The Latin thrown at you is ex turpi causa non oritur actio or; from a base (or illegal) act, no cause of action can arise. This is often deployed but applied only in quite extreme circumstances.
There is one English first instance decision I am aware of – a County Court Judgment from a well-regarded and experienced Judge – which said forgetting to renew your MoT on a mechanically sound and insured vehicle did not trigger this ex turpi exception and that at the very least, you should press on to trial. Just beware, a CCJ is not precedent.
Ex turpi is rarely applied; almost never in road-traffic cases. To give you an example, ex turpi was applied when a hunt saboteur threatened a supporter with some sort of club and the supporter chinned the saboteur. In what was hotly contested evidence and video footage showing a confrontation, the Judge accepted that if you threaten someone with a club and that individual gives you a beating, the trigger was your threat, which is illegal and you live with the consequences. The key point is; did your MoT status cause the loss?
I can see the defence to the hire claim is more nuanced than that but I think most judges will accept the hire claim though the real argument will be rate and duration. Also, had you just got your fully comp to repair your bike, none of this would have happened.
You might have had a bit of tutting about your lack of MoT and your insurers might have reduced your pay-out but you would not be on the hook for close to five figures of hire from a minor knock.
As to the various promises made that you will never pay, I have heard this a thousand times but the paperwork you signed (which I have seen) is pretty close to watertight, making you liable.
RiDE Magazine June 2022