If I was travelling in France and say for example I was on a cycling holiday and was knocked down by a French driver and sustained an injury as a result of the cycling accident, previously I would have to bring the claim in France. I would have to instruct French lawyers.
There are likely to be issues with regard to costs which I shall explain in a later blog and in particular, the level of damages I would receive would be based upon French law and therefore somewhat more limiting than the damages that I might receive in this Country.
Equally, if I was cycling in France and I was knocked down by a driver who happened to be Spanish, I would once again have to instruct a French lawyer to recover damages and I might then have the difficulty of trying to serve proceedings on a national of yet a further Country and therefore upon the Defendant who was resident in Spain.
Matters have now been clarified somewhat and they have been clarified by what is commonly known as Rome II (actually the Rome II Regulations relating to codification of laws on non-contractual obligations). To some extent these issues have only really been clarified in personal injury law I would suggest, because insurance companies are now so big. They cover the whole of Europe. Some are American based insurers, others German, French or even Japanese.
The point is however that if I bring a claim against a Defendant as a result of being knocked down whilst on holiday on my bicycle in France, if the Defendant is insured by, for example, AXA Insurance, AXA will not just have the number of offices in France who organise the Defendant’s motor insurance but they will also have an office or indeed a number of offices within the UK.
It is therefore just as easy to deal with the same insurance company in the UK as it would be to deal with an insurance company in France. If the insurance company does not have an office in the country where the Claimant is based they will no doubt have agreements with other insurers to stand in their place and certainly the Motor Insurers Bureau has a similar agreement with its counterparts across Europe.
It would therefore make perfect sense if I as the English Claimant, having been knocked down in France, was instead to claim against the French or Spanish driver but to deal with the driver’s insurance company in the UK.Since as a result of various regulations that have occurred over the years, I can bring a claim direct against the insurance company rather than having to bring a claim against the Defendant who knocked me down, matters are simplified even more.
It is no surprise therefore that Rome II came into being. I now am in a much easier position and I simply sit back, correspond with the insurance company in England and then sort out the damages that I am entitled to. Or do I…..?
Tristan Hallam is a Principal Lawyer in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.