February 26, 2019
There have been numerous cases involving the tricky subject of credit hire over the years.
Credit hire arises following a road traffic accident. If your car is damaged in an accident you may need to hire a car whilst yours is off the road. Rather than paying up front yourself for a hire car, a credit hire company will supply the hire car on credit terms.
The company will then look to recover the hire costs from the insurer of the driver who caused the accident in the first place. This all sounds reasonable - if you have not caused the accident why should you be out of pocket?
Yet the process of recovering the money from the insurers sometimes proves complicated when disputes arise. This was the case which faced our specialist credit hire team here at Pudsey Legal recently.
Our client, who is a small business owner, was unfortunately involved in an accident where the other driver’s insurers admitted responsibility. Luckily, both drivers were unharmed, but the damage to our client's vehicle meant it was un-driveable.
Needing a replacement vehicle whilst his was off the road, he hired from a credit hire company. Whilst, he did have the means to pay for a car from his own pocket, there was no guarantee when he would have recovered this from the insurance company so he hired a vehicle on a credit hire basis (remember he is a small business owner where cash-flow is important).
Therefore, he was entitled to recover what is known in law as the ‘Basic Hire Rate.’ This is the rate he would have paid for a car from a local hire company if he was paying up front himself.
In cases like this, usually both parties will supply evidence of local rates to allow, hopefully, a figure to be agreed. However, in this case, no agreement could be reached and court proceedings were issued.
As is usually the case in these matters, the courts refer to the rules laid down in previous cases, most notably Bent v Highways 2011 and Clark v Ardington 2002. In our case, the dispute surrounded both parties interpretation of these two cases and which party’s rates evidence was most relevant and specific to our client’s needs and rights.
At the first hearing, the judge preferred the Defendant’s evidence and we appealed this decision.
The appeal judge found in our favour and ruled that the original judge: