Accident car cases are too expensive, says judge


Litigation around the supply of replacement cars to not-at-fault motorists following accidents in Northern Ireland is cumbersome and too expensive, a High Court judge has declared.

Mr Justice Stephens said the battle between credit hire companies and insurance firms shows no sign of a commercial or legal resolution.

Ruling on a dispute over a claim by one driver after her car was hit, he said the rates involved can be of “complete indifference” to those hiring vehicles because insurers of the at-fault drivers are supposed to pick up the bill.

The judge stated: “I would observe that the present system is cumbersome and that the present costs are disproportionate.”

His general assessment came as he found for a woman whose Nissan Micra was involved in a collision on the Camlough Road, Newry in June last year.

She obtained a replacement car from a credit hire company for 39 days at a total cost of just under £2,500.

The defendant motorist had instead contended that the rate should be just £1,338.

Mr Justice Stephens said: “Both the credit hire company and the insurer concerned in this particular case, consider that the present system is unsatisfactory and that the costs are disproportionate ... My assessment is that the costs are clearly disproportionate not only in this case but also in the vast majority of credit hire cases.”