Breslin -v- Corcoran and Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland

Supreme Court - Breslin -v- Corcoran and Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland

by Cathal N. Young, O'Reilly & Co. Solicitors & Notaries Public in Dublin
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It is an act of folly to leave one's motor car in the public street, even for a short time, with the keys in the ignition. There are plenty of ill-intentioned persons around to take advantage. The consequences can be tragic. But what is the liability of the imprudent car owner to a person injured by the bad driving of the thief?

The first-named defendant left his car outside the Tea Time Express Coffee Shop in Talbot Street in Dublin unlocked and with the keys in the ignition. He dropped into the shop to buy a sandwich. As he came out, he saw an unknown person jump into the car and drive it off at speed. The car turned from Talbot Street into Talbot Lane. The plaintiff was walking across Talbot Lane. The car ran into him and injured him. For simplicity, if not accuracy, I will refer to the person who took the car as "the thief." He may, of course, have been a joyrider or other temporary taker of the car.

The plaintiff brought an action in the High Court against Mr Corcoran, first-named defendant, alleging negligence in leaving the car unattended in the manner described. He joined MIBI, as second defendant, "pursuant to the terms of an agreement dated the 21st day of December 1988 and made between the Minister for the Environment and the Second Named Defendant and in particular Clause 2(2) and 6 thereof." The plaintiff succeeded before Butler J against MIBI only. The damages were agreed at £65,000. The learned High Court judge apportioned all the liability to the MIBI and gave a decree against it with costs.

The MIBI is sued directly in this way, not as representing or standing in for the thief, but because it has agreed to compensate victims of uninsured driving, subject to the terms of the agreement. The real issue before the Court is whether there was any negligence on the part of the first named defendant. If there was, the MIBI has no liability. If not, it is bound by the agreement.

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Reference Info: n/a | Ireland

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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