Motorist Pays High Price for Failing to Renew His MOT Certificate on Time


Failing to renew your vehicle’s MOT certificate on time may put you in breach of the criminal law. However, as a case concerning a parked car that was struck by a passing lorry showed, it may also have serious financial consequences.

The car was rendered undriveable by the collision so, whilst it was being repaired, its owner hired a replacement vehicle at a cost of over £20,000. The lorry’s insurers admitted liability for the accident. Following a trial, however, a judge disallowed the car owner’s claim for reimbursement of the vehicle hire charges.

The judge noted that the car’s MOT certificate had expired about four and a half months before the collision. Whilst not satisfied that the owner was positively aware that the certificate had lapsed, the judge found that he was careless and not greatly concerned to ensure that a certificate was in place.

The car’s presence on the road without an MOT certificate was a criminal offence and there was a real possibility that the absence of such a certificate would have invalidated the car’s insurance policy. There was, however, no evidence that the car was unroadworthy prior to the collision and the judge found that it would be disproportionate to dismiss the entirety of the owner’s claim on grounds that it was tainted by illegality.

Refusing his claim in respect of the hire charges, however, the judge noted that he had no plausible excuse for failing to obtain a new MOT certificate and that there was no evidence that he intended to obtain one in the near future. Due to the absence of an MOT certificate, he could not lawfully have driven his car on a public highway.

In dismissing the owner’s appeal against that outcome, the High Court agreed with the judge that he was not entitled to be put in a position of having a replacement vehicle which he could lawfully drive whilst his car, which could not be driven lawfully, was undergoing repair. He thus had no valid claim in respect of the loss of his car’s use whilst it was in the repair shop.

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