Road Traffics Accidents Abroad

The MIB brought in a new directive to assist the Englishman abroad if they are involved in a road traffic accident “abroad” with a foreign driver.  The process that is undertaken is similar to that if you have an accident with a foreign driver in England.  You write to the MIB requesting details of the foreign driver’s UK handling agent and then present the claim formally by way of a pre action protocol letter of claim.

The difference in dealing with foreign road traffic accidents is that they are dealt with under the law where the accident occurred for example Germany.  The level of compensation differs considerably in Germany to that in England in respect of whiplash claims which are deemed to be minor claims.  In order to even consider a claim for compensation the claimant has to be off work for at least 4 weeks and then the level of compensation would be far less than that in England so you are therefore looking at a few hundred pounds and therefore as the claim would not exceed £1000 then costs are not paid.

It is also a requirement in dealing with such claims that a formal advice from a barrister familiar with the law of the country to provide a formal opinion with regards to quantum.  This is required both pre litigation and by the court when determining the level of compensation the claimant should receive.

If quantum falls under £1000 then counsel’s fee would not be recoverable and therefore payment would need to be sought under the legal expense insurance cover.

Having spoken with Theo Pangraz of Counsel, his fee for such an advice is £800 plus VAT.  Obviously if damages exceed £1000 then his fee should be recoverable.

The other issue also is that if damages do not exceed £1000 then the medical report fee also would not be recoverable and again payment would need to be sought for this under the Legal Expense Insurance.

One further point to raise will be that until we get the medical report and counsel’s opinion then we will not know the level of compensation that the claimant will receive as this will depend on the country where the claimant had the accident.

Counsel has advised that if the claim exceeds £1000 then CPR 35 will apply and solicitor’s costs and disbursements will be paid, however, under £1000  the claimant’s solicitors costs will not be recoverable as would be the same in this country.

Counsel has advised, having spoken to solicitors who instruct him to provide quantum reports, that they have confirmed that with English law applying to procedure and costs, it is generally accepted that they would obtain quantum reports where a claim had happened in a foreign jurisdiction but expert’s fees/costs would only be recoverable if general damages were in excess of £1000.  They further advise that a couple of insurers had given a nominal sum for costs though and not under the MOJ fixed costs regime.

Counsel has advised that on speaking to other solicitors each case is dealt with on its own merits and as he understands it, agreement is reached with the UK handling agent with regards to costs that are paid, however, under CPR 35 English costs should apply.

Counsel is also of the view that if the matter were to proceed to trial then again under CPR 35 costs would be dealt with under English law and not under the costs regime of the country where the accident happened.