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European Court ruling clarifies section of travel insurance law

A decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on a Leigh Day client’s personal injury claim has brought clarity to an important part of European Union law.

Posted on 10 December 2021

Eighty-seven-year-old Betty Tattersall suffered a significant injury while she was staying in Alicante, Spain at the holiday home she had rented from Emily Basquille who lives in the Republic of Ireland.
 
Ms Tattersall tried to bring a claim against Ms Basquille’s insurer and launched it before the UK left the EU, which meant it could be brought in the English courts. The insurance company denied cover to Ms Basquille but under Article 13 of Brussels Recast, Ms Tattersall believed it should also be possible to extend the claim directly against Ms Basquille in the English Court.
 
However, Ms Basquille’s interpretation of Article 13 was that Ms Tattersall was not allowed to include her in a direct-action claim against her insurer and that any claim against her could only proceed in her home court (Ireland) or where the accident occurred (Spain).
 
A decision reached by the Court of Appeal in England in the case of Hoteles Pinero Canarias SL v Keefe [2015] EWCA Civ 598 suggested otherwise, so the County Court at Birkenhead decided to seek clarification from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the scope of Article 13 of Brussels Recast and specifically Article 13(3).
 
If Ms Basquille’s interpretation of Article 13 of Brussels Recast was correct, then Ms Tattersall would have had to pursue her claim in a different jurisdiction outside of the English Courts. It also gave rise to the possibility of two parallel sets of proceedings in two separate jurisdictions with the risk of conflicting judgments: a claim against Ms Basquille’s insurer in England and a claim against Ms Basquille in Ireland or Spain.
 
The decision of the CJEU was delivered this week and essentially means that Ms Tattersall cannot  use Article 13 of Brussels Recast to join Ms Basquille to the direct claim against her insurer.
 
Leigh Day solicitor Colin Murphy, who represents Ms Tattersall said:
 
“The ruling has provided much-needed clarity on a key piece of EU law. In claims for compensation arising from personal injury, Article 13 cannot be used to join the insured to a direct claim brought against an insurer.

“As of 1 January 2021, Brussels Recast ceased to apply in the UK and so this ruling will only directly affect claims already instituted before the end of December 2020.  It will continue to be relevant for victims of personal injury in the EU 27 countries.   The decision will potentially create problems for victims where insurance cover is denied or inadequate. Such victims will need to contemplate a claim in the home court of the insured or in the courts where the accident took place.”

Parasitic Claims under Brussels I (Recast) - CJEU Clarifies the application of Article 13(3)

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Colin Murphy
Travel claims

Colin Murphy

Colin Murphy is a solicitor in the travel team.

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