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Uninsured Defendants

Volume 77: debated on Monday 15 April 1985

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asked the Attorney-General why it is intended by the proposed amendments to the Supreme Court rules submitted to the Supreme Court rule committee by the Lord Chancellor's Department to exclude from the operation of section 6 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 plaintiffs taking action against uninsured defendants other than public authorities.

This restriction follows the recommendation in paragraph 240 of the report of the Law Commission, No. 56, which led to the enactment of section 6. A similar restriction applies in Scotland. The matter is now one for the Supreme Court rule committee, which is now considering it.

Surely the issue is that some defendants may be able to pay compensation even though they are not insured. There does not seem to be any good reason for securing the position of such people, because if it is secured they are better off than they would have been had they followed the law and got themselves insured.

The rule committee is looking at that and all the other attendant problems which follow —for example, who is to be exempted, should it be just those recommended by the Law Commission, or should we widen the scope? The probable thinking behind the Law Commission's recommendation is that there must be some finality, particularly for the uninsured defendant who has the possibility of an enormous claim hanging over him for perhaps the rest of his life. That is one of the matters which obviously caused the Law Commission to make that recommendation.