ROAD ACCIDENT AND CAR HIRE CHARGES
In the case of Mr. Said Bourous v London Borough of Islington revolves around a road traffic accident (RTA) involving a licensed taxi driver. The claimant sought compensation for various damages, including credit hire charges amounting to £11,825.49 for the replacement taxi during the repair period. However, the hire claim was dismissed during the contested MOJ Stage 3 hearing because the claimant had not provided evidence of loss of profit, as required by the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents (RTA Protocol).
The claimant successfully appealed the decision, arguing that the defendant had failed to properly dispute the hire charges within the RTA Protocol. The court ruled that a defendant must fully explain the basis of their challenge during the Stage 2 Settlement Pack, and any issues not raised at that stage cannot be referred to in subsequent proceedings. Therefore, the defendant could not object to the claim for hire charges raised by the claimant at Stage 3 unless they had raised those objections at Stage 2.
The practical implications of this case extend beyond hire claims and taxi claims. It highlights the importance of defendants clearly setting out the basis of their dispute within the RTA Protocol. Failure to do so can result in the court rejecting objections raised at a later stage. This ruling serves as a warning to defendants to properly identify the grounds of their dispute and to address them appropriately during the protocol process.
Furthermore, the court’s decision demonstrates that even in technical areas like credit hire, the court will not overlook a defendant’s failure to identify grounds of dispute. It emphasizes the need for compliance with the RTA Protocol and discourages attempts to transfer the case to Part 7, where a full defense as to quantum would be permitted.
Overall, this case has significant implications for all claims subject to the RTA Protocol, emphasizing the importance of proper compliance and communication during the protocol stages and setting clear expectations for defendants to raise all relevant issues within the specified timelines.
However on contrast:
In the case of Baker v Hayward (2022), the defendant successfully appealed against a finding that the claimant fell within the exceptions established in Hussain v EUI Ltd  EWHC 2647 (QB). The claimant, a self-employed taxi driver, brought a claim for personal injury and credit hire. The claimant had initially used a taxi from his work provider, but later hired a vehicle on credit. He claimed that he entered into the credit agreement on the instructions of the taxi company owner. The claimant stated in court that a significant portion of the taxi company’s business involved fulfilling school contracts, but he acknowledged that he had no knowledge of the company’s operations or the availability of their fleet.
The Deputy District Judge inferred that the claimant needed to hire a replacement vehicle because there were no available vehicles in the fleet. The judge also found that the claimant fell within the first exception in Hussain, which allows for a departure from the standard measure of loss. This exception applies when there is a risk of future lost earnings if the claimant is unable to perform certain contracts. However, the defendant appealed the decision, arguing that there was no primary evidence to support the inference that the claimant needed to hire a replacement vehicle, and that the claimant had not properly pleaded or provided evidence of the first exception.
In the appeal, Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith found that there was sufficient evidence for the inference made by the Deputy District Judge, so the first ground of appeal was rejected. However, she concluded that the claimant had not provided prior indication or evidence of relying on the first exception, and it was not permissible to introduce such evidence at trial without proper pleading. The judge emphasized that the defendant was entitled to know the case it had to meet and that civil litigation should not work in a way where critical claims are made solely through oral evidence. As a result, the claimant’s claim for credit hire and loss of profit failed.
This case establishes the importance of properly pleading and providing evidence for exceptions relied upon by claimants, ensuring that defendants have the opportunity to challenge such assertions. It also reinforces the principle of early collaboration and transparency in taxi claims. The defendant, having beaten their Part 36 offer, was awarded costs, and the defendant may seek non-party costs against the credit hire company.