Not Guilty of Using a Vehicle Without Insurance

A business owner had his vehicles stopped on two occasions and was accused of having no insurance to cover their use.

The Facts

At the time the vehicles were stopped, there was a policy of insurance in place, but the insurers said that he had misrepresented his circumstances when the policy was taken out. On this basis, the insurers said that they were entitled to void the policy ‘ab initio,’ i.e. to cancel the policy from the outset as if it never existed.

Not Guilty Of Using A Vehicle Without Insurance

As each no-insurance offence carries a minimum of 6 penalty points, our client was facing the loss of his licence if no insurance was in place. This is because there were two offences totalling a minimum of 12 points.

The Defence

We were able to rely on an old case called Adams v Dunne that confirmed that the policy could not be voided ‘ab initio’ in criminal law.

Adams v Dunne [1978] R.T.R. 281

In this case, the defendant, a disqualified driver, obtained motor insurance by not disclosing this disqualification to the insurers. Whilst the policy was in place, the defendant was seen driving and was charged with using a vehicle without insurance.

The court held that an insurance policy obtained by a disqualified driver without disclosure of disqualification is voidable, as opposed to void ab initio. This means it can be cancelled upon the insurers giving notice to the policy holder. However, the cover given remains in force until notification is given.

This case meant that whether there had been a misrepresentation or not, the insurance was valid at the time the vehicles were stopped. The policies were not voided until later. The result was that the offences had not been committed.

The Outcome

After we served a detailed skeleton argument on the prosecution setting out the law, it was eventually accepted that the insurance was in place and the matters were discontinued before a trial took place. The prosecution admitted that they had not been aware of the Adams v Dunne case and accepted that it applied to our case. This meant that our client was not guilty of these offences.

As a side issue, it was denied that there had been any misrepresentation by our client, but the case did not turn on that point.


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