LEGAL EAGLE: Son ‘misled’ about insurance for his takeaway delivery job
During the Covid lock down my son has been delivering takeaway food for a local restaurant and been allowed to use a vehicle owned by the restaurant to make the deliveries.
He was stopped by police whilst on a delivery and asked to produce a certificate of insurance. It now turns out that he was not covered under the insurance policy for that vehicle and he has been reported for summons to attend court. We feel this is unfair as he was only acting as directed by his boss. Is there anything he can do?
Ordinarily insurance offences are known as strict liability offences. In other words either a valid policy covers the driver or it doesn’t. If you have been misled into believing there was a valid policy, when in fact none existed, you would still be guilty of the offence but you may be able to argue ‘special reasons’ to persuade the magistrates not to endorse your licence in those circumstances.
In this case, however, your son may have a statutory defence to the allegation given his employment status at the time.
S.143 (3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides a special defence for employees using vehicles in the course of their employment.
The burden of proof, however, will be on him, on the balance of probabilities, to prove the following:-
1. The vehicle did not belong to him.
2. The vehicle was not in his possession under a contract of hiring or loan.
3. That he was using the vehicle in the course of his employment, and
4. That he never knew nor had reason to believe insurance was not in force.
Using the vehicle ‘in the course of your employment’ would not cover any private use of the vehicle and he would need to show that at the time he was stopped he was driving as part of his job and not doing anything that could be said to be outside his employment.
Whether driving to or from work could be covered would depend on the particular circumstances at that time.
If he can satisfy the court that all of these elements were in place then he should be found not guilty at trial. His employer however may still be liable for causing or permitting him to use the vehicle without insurance. A conviction for an offence of no insurance carries a mandatory endorsement of between 6 and 8 penalty points or a disqualification of between six and 12 months.
For further advice please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP solicitors on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] . Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.