Law Report: Insurer must pay for accident in car park

Cutter v Eagle Star Insurance Co Ltd; Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Beldam, Lord Justice Morritt, Sir John Balcombe) 22 November 1996

A multi-storey car park was a "road" within the meaning of sections 145(3)(a) and 192 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and an accidental injury to a passenger in a car there was a risk against which the driver was required to insure himself, and in respect of which the driver's insurers were obliged to satisfy any judgment obtained against him.

The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the plaintiff, Stuart Richard Cutter, against a decision of Deputy Judge Kee, sitting in Tunbridge Wells County Court on 21 September 1995, who dismissed his claim against Eagle Star Insurance Co Ltd.

Eagle Star were the insurers of a driver, Mr Penniel, in whose car the plaintiff was injured. The car was parked in Great Hall multi-storey car park, Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells. Mr Penniel had left in the car a can of lighter fuel which had leaked inflammable gas. After returning to the car and before driving off, Mr Penniel lit a cigarette, igniting the gas and causing a fire in which the plaintiff, sitting in the passenger seat, was injured.

The plaintiff claimed and was awarded damages and costs against Mr Penniel. But the judgment was not satisfied. The plaintiff therefore claimed against the insurers for the outstanding sum of pounds 15,575.54. The judge dismissed the claim on the ground that the accident had not occurred on a road.

Richard Barraclough (Max Barford & Co, Tunbridge Wells) for the plaintiff; Charles Cory-Wright (C.M. Sinclair Jenkins, Eagle Star) for the insurers.

Lord Justice Beldam said the plaintiff relied on section 151 of the 1988 Act, under which an insurer was under a duty to satisfy a judgment obtained against a person insured for third party risks in respect of a liability required to be covered by a policy of insurance under section 145. Section 145(3)(a) required that such a policy

must insure [the policy holder] in re-

spect of any liability which may be incurred by him . . . in respect of the death or bodily injury to any person . . . caused by, or arising out of, the use of the vehicle on a road . . .

Section 192 of the Act defined "road" as "any highway and any other road to which the public has access". The definition was clearly intended to include roads which were not highways but to exclude roads to which the public did not have access. Here it was conceded that if Great Hall car park was a road, then it was one to which the public had access.

Relying principally on criteria laid down by Kilner-Brown J in Oxford v Austin [1981] RTR 416, the judge considered that the question whether the car park was a road depended on whether or not there was "a definable way between two points over which vehicles could pass".

It seemed to his Lordship that too much emphasis had been placed on seeking to answer the question: "Is the car park a road?" The question would more correctly be posed by asking: "Is there within the car park a roadway?"

In this case there was within Great Hall car park a roadway, i.e. a way marked out for the passage of vehicles controlled by conventional traffic signs and markings and regularly used by members of the public seeking a car-parking space.

The risk of accidents causing injury arising out of the use of cars on this roadway was scarcely less than on any other road.

The fact that the car was being driven to or from a parking space, as opposed to using the way through the area in question as a route from one road to another, ought not to decide whether or not an injured person was paid the compensation for which he had obtained judgment.

The areas in Great Hall car park marked out for the passage and parking of vehicles were therefore within the definition of "road" in section 192, and the insurers were bound under section 151 to meet the judgment against Mr Penniel.

Suggested Topics
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits