Public Road or Private Land? The Application of RTA Insurance following the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022

Published: 16/05/2022 | News

Having received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill is now an Act of Parliament: the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022 (“the Act”). The Act makes clear the distinction between UK law and European Motor Insurance Directives. Further, the Act defines the categories of vehicle requiring compulsory insurance and the circumstances in which compulsory insurance is required.

In the case of Vnuk (Case C-162/13) ECLI:EU:C:2014:2146 (“Vnuk”), in 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union determined that vehicle use on private land and vehicles not designed for use on roads were subject to the requirement of compulsory third-party motor insurance as defined in articles 3 and 10 of the EU Motor Insurance Directive (Directive 2009/103/EC) (“the Directive”).

The Act establishes that only “motor vehicles”, as defined in the Road Traffic Act 1988 (“RTA 1988”), used on roads or other public places require compulsory third-party insurance. The Act confirms that Vnuk and case law applying Vnuk, in relation to articles 3 and 10 of the Directive, no longer form part of binding case law as defined in section 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA).

These changes will be of particular interest to legal practitioners specialising in personal injury and where the cause of action arose from an accident involving a vehicle on private land.

Explanatory notes to the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill can be found here. The Act can be found here.

Lucie Danti is a pupil at Farrar’s Building with experience in Chambers’ core areas of practice, to include Personal Injury, Clinical Negligence and Regulatory law.



Lucie summarises the provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022 and its effects will be significantly felt in the UK. Post Vnuk the incompatibility of the RTA 1988 was confirmed in UK Insurance v Holden [2019] UKSC 1 (Lord Hodge JSC para 40) and the question then arose how a judgment could be enforced by an innocent victim of a vehicle  accident where it occurred on private land and not on a public road or in a public place. The answer to this conundrum was to be found in MIB v Lewis [2019] EWCA Civ 909 where the MIB, as an emanation of the state, was held liable in such circumstances under the Uninsured Drivers Agreement 2015.

The Government and insurers were concerned that the outcome of Lewis was that the MIB were liable for the outcomes of all vehicle accidents on private land and as much heralded in the popular press, potentially for a greater range of vehicles not constructed for road use such as golf buggies and the like.

The effect, therefore, of the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022 is to reverse the outcome of Lewis and consequently where accidents arise between vehicles that are not on a public road or public place an innocent victim of such an accident will have no recourse against the RTA insurer under s.151 of the RTA 1988, or against the MIB under the Uninsured Drivers Agreement 2015. In these circumstances, the definition of a public road or public place has great significance and not just in relation to against whom a judgment can be enforced. For a recent review of the law on a public road or public place, see Brown v (1) Fisk (2) Soteria Insurance (3) MIB (4) Sec. of State for Transport 2021 EWHC (QB) 2769, and in particular paras 67 to 82.

Commentary by John Meredith-Hardy, a Barrister at Farrar’s Building, who has a particular interest in Insurance Law, and that pertaining to road traffic accidents and the MIB.