AN ANONYMOUS DRIVER CANNOT BE SUED: YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE SOMEWHERE TO SERVE…
In the judgment today Cameron v Liverpool Victoria Insurance Co Ltd  UKSC 6 the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal decision in relation to service when there is an unknown driver. The court cannot make an order that service of an unknown driver takes place on an insurer. The essential test is whether service will bring the proceedings to the attention of the defendant.
“In my opinion, subject to any statutory provision to the contrary, it is an essential requirement for any form of alternative service that the mode of service should be such as can reasonably be expected to bring the proceedings to the attention of the defendant.”
The claimant was inured in a road traffic accident where the errant driver drove away. The vehicle that struck the claimant was identified and a policy of insurance was in force. The driver was never identified. The keeper of the vehicle refused to give information about the driver, and was convicted of the offence of failing to give the identity of the driver.
- Proceedings were issued against the keeper (Mr Hussain) as the claimant believed him to be the driver. Proceedings were also issued against the vehicle’s insurer.
- The insurer denied liability on the grounds that Mr Hussain was not covered at the time of the policy and the claimant could not name the driver.
- The insurer also applied for summary judgment.
- The claimant made a cross-application for permission to amend her particulars of claim “so as to substitute, for the named first defendant, a defendant identified only by the following description:
‘The person unknown driving vehicle registration number Y598 SPS who collided with vehicle registration number KG03 ZIZ on 26th May 2013.’”
- The claimant’s application was dismissed by the District Judge and, on appeal, by the Circuit Judge.
- The Court of Appeal allowed the claimant’s appeal and permitted service to take place