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Evans v TNT Logistics Ltd & Admiral Insurance Services Ltd

26 April 2007
The issues

Credit hire – mitigation – hire charges.

The facts

The Claimant and Defendant were involved in a road traffic accident on 14th February 2005. Liability for the accident was admitted by the Defendant. The Claimant issued a claim on the 10th October 2005 for, inter alia, car hire charges of 2006 £120.25 and outlay of £1,378.00. The Defendant issued a Part 20 claim against the Claimant’s insurers, Admiral Insurance Services Ltd. The Defendant alleged delay on the part of Admiral in obtaining an estimate from the engineer/garage, in confirming the Claimant’s vehicle was a total loss, and issuing a cheque in settlement. When the matter went to Trial before the Deputy District Judge he found that there were delays on the part of the Part 20 Defendant and allowed charges for only one half of the hire period, giving Judgment for the Claimant against the Defendant for £3,096.75 in damages, including £1,310.13, being one half of the hire charges claimed by the Claimant against the Defendant. In addition, he gave the Claimant Judgment against the Part 20 Defendant for £1,310.12 in respect of the other half of the hire charges claimed. Technically, since the Part 20 Defendant need not be made a Second Defendant the form of the Judgment was incorrect but no issue was taken by the parties. Neither had the Part 20 Defendant appealed against the finding of the Deputy District Judge. The Defendant appealed against the hire charge award on the basis that it should have been wholly disallowed owing to the Claimant’s failure to mitigate.

The decision

The Claimant’s insurers had referred the Claimant to an associated company who had agreed to provide him with a hire vehicle whilst his car was being repaired. At about the same time the Defendant had written to the Claimant to confirm that liability would not be in issue and stating that a hire car, of an equivalent type to the Claimant’s, would be available at a cheaper rate than that offered to the Claimant by the associated company. On the advice of the associated company, the Claimant rejected the offer.

The Judge had asked himself the wrong question. The question was not whether the Claimant had acted reasonably but whether the Claimant had acted reasonably as between himself and the Defendant. The decision to take a hire car was significantly more costly than the alternative that was available to him, namely the hire car that was offered to him by the Defendant. Had the Deputy District Judge approached the question correctly he would have found that in relation to the issue of mitigation the Claimant did not act reasonably as between himself and the Defendant.

The Claimant’s damages should be limited to the amount he would have been entitled to claim had he behaved reasonably and accordingly the Defendant’s appeal would be allowed to the extent that the measure of the Claimant’s damages for car hire would be limited to £29.00 per day for the period of 22 days allowed by the Deputy District Judge, a total of £638.00.

Appeal allowed in part.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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