Fri, 29 Jan 2016
The decision of the Court of Appeal last year in the case of Stevens v. Equity Syndicate Management  EWCA Civ 93 came like an unwanted “bolt out of the blue” for most credit-hire and accident management companies, including Accident Exchange Limited. The decision turning the award of Basic Hire Rates damages on its head. The previous practice of the court awarding top spot rate or top BHR being replaced with a practice that the courts should make damages awards based upon the “lowest reasonable mainstream supplier rate” or the “lowest reasonable reputable local supplier rate”.
In the last week Glenn Willetts of No5 Chambers appeared as junior counsel in two successful oral permission to appeal hearings heard in the Court of Appeal in which both of his lay clients were successful in securing permission to appeal to enable the Court of Appeal to revisit and give further guidance to first instances judges in the county court as to the correct principles and approaches that should be taken to the award of damages in credit hire cases.
In the first case, Neil McBride v. UK Insurance Limited (21st January 2016, Court of Appeal Reference B2/2015/1054), Underhill LJ agreed that permission to appeal ought to be granted to Mr McBride to enable the Court of Appeal to give further guidance to first instance judges as to the proper approach that should be taken in respect of the often important issue of a nil hire insurance excess as well as to the proper meaning of the terms “reasonable mainstream supplier rate” and “reasonable supplier rate”. The learned Lord Justice of Appeal also ruling that the question of whether the decision of the Court of Appeal in Stevens v. Equity Syndicate Management was wrongly decided as being in conflict with the earlier decisions of the Court of Appeal was a matter of general public importance that should be reconsidered by the full Court upon the hearing of the appeal.
In the second case, Peter Clayton v. EUI Limited trading as Admiral Insurance (26th January 2016, Court of Appeal Reference B2/2014/3494), Tomlinson LJ granted permission to Mr Clayton to bring a second appeal to the Court of Appeal. The learned Lord Justice of Appeal ruling that it was appropriate for the Court of Appeal to give guidance as to how the issue of excess waivers should be dealt with and also further guidance to first instance judges as to the proper ambit of adjustments that could properly be made to BHR awards where the defendants had failed to file properly comparable rates evidence. Tomlinson LJ deprecating the judicial approach that has been adopted within the county courts in some credit hire cases of applying uplifts based on pure guesswork rather than evidence, as was the position in Clayton.
Due to the general importance of the issues raised in both cases the appeals have been listed to be heard together with a time estimate of 1 ½ days.
Glenn Willetts of No5 Chambers was instructed by Helen Hornby of Breens Solicitors and led by Mr Benjamin Williams QC of 4 New Square Chambers in the case of McBride.
Glenn was instructed by Richard Milner of True Solicitors LLP and led by Mr Christopher Butcher QC of 7 Kings Bench Walk Chambers in the case of Clayton.