Date: 20 March 2018

Many of you will have heard the sad tale of Mr Vnuk who was knocked off a ladder at work by a tractor and his fight for compensation. As the employer wasn't required to have employer liability insurance, Mr Vnuk claimed from the tractor's insurance and was refused on the grounds that the tractor was on private property

Mr Vnuk eventually took this to the European Court of Justice. He won and despite an appeal by the UK, German and Irish governments, changed the understanding of the Motor Insurance Directive which now requires ALL mechanically propelled vehicles in ALL places to be insured for ALL 3rd party losses for ALL uses. Including motor sport vehicles used in motor sport.

Inquiries to motor insurers and even sports insurers have revealed that this kind of insurance is not available and if it was, it would be prohibitively expensive. This may be acceptable in elite sport (although even then, events may just move outside the EU), but clearly compulsory insurance bills of thousands or even hundreds of pounds a year would kill off grassroots sport.

The ACU and AMCA have been working with the Motor Cycle Industry Association via the Motorcycle Sport Political Strategy Group (MSPG) in an effort to protect the sport from this judgment. The UK government, via the Motor Insurance Bureau and the Department for Transport, are fully on side and have been working with us to try and get the Motor Insurance Directive changed to exclude motor sport.These efforts have been successful and following meetings with representatives from the AMCA and ACU and businesses involved in the sport, the European Commission has committed to changing the Directive. They have published several consultations on the subject and the sport has responded to each urging exemption. The overwhelming majority of the responses received were in favour of exempting motor sport.

The most recent consultation (called "Refit") closed in October and had a section of questions for members of the public that did not cover Vnuk and a section for businesses which covered various subjects such as no claims bonuses, autonomous vehicles and the scope of the Motor Insurance Directive, i.e. Vnuk. We have encouraged motorcycle businesses to respond and this was picked up in the trade press. Responses urging exemption were also sent from the MIA, FIA and FIM following our lobbying efforts. As this consultation was aimed at businesses, not individuals, we did not ask our members to respond – this opportunity may come later.In the background, legal challenges are being received by the Government, who will need to implement Vnuk and make motor insurance compulsory on private property at some point in the future if the Motor Insurance Directive isn't changed. 

This could happen at any time. If this time comes and we find ourselves needing to campaign in Parliament, the sports bodies and the industry will be urging members and members of the public to write, call, fax, email and visit their MPs to make it clear that passing such a law would be a disaster for the sport. In the meantime, we are looking at other activities which can help us continue to make the case against Vnuk and remain very active on this issue.