A row about the potential implications of a 2014 decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has grown in recent weeks, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson now adding his opinion in a newspaper column.
The ruling could see it become compulsory for new foldable mobility scooter owners to insure their vehicles, even though no such legislation currently exists in British law.
The ECJ’s decision was made after a court case following an accident which took place on a Slovenian farm. Damijan Vnuk was working on the farm when he was knocked off a ladder by a tractor trailer and badly injured.
Following the incident, judges decided that insurance should be made mandatory for all powered non-rail vehicles, even if they are only driven on private land. UK government lawyers are now trying to work out how to reconcile this decision with British law; as publicity has grown, so has the debate about whether this insurance should be compulsory.
Currently, insurance for class 3 invalid carriages – which mobility scooters are sometimes classified as – is not required for vehicles registered and used in the UK, although people can take out a policy if they wish. This GOV.UK page states that ‘you don’t need insurance for a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, although it’s recommended’.
Boris Johnson’s article, published in the Daily Telegraph on New Year’s Day, was light-hearted in nature but made a serious point, with the Foreign Secretary claiming that the ruling would inflict a ‘pointless and expensive burden on millions of people’.
A March 2015 analysis of the case by the law firm Weightmans seemed to agree that the ruling could result in many vehicle owners having to buy insurance which they previously did not have to: ‘certainly a number of previously uninsured vehicles will now potentially be in the frame including, for example, fork lift trucks, Segways, invalid carriages, sit-on lawnmowers and many others’.
Image Credit: DAVID HOLT
Related: How to insure a mobility scooter