Appendix 4: Liability for Loss or Damage
1. The extent of an AE's liability for damage is set out in Regulation 14 (1) of the Motor Vehicles (Tests) Regulations 1981 (SI 1981 No 1694) as amended but is repeated here for information.
14 (1) Where a motor vehicle has been submitted for an examination to be carried out by a person other than a section 66A examiner, the authorised examiner or designated council (as the case may be ) shall have the same responsibility for:-
(a) loss of or damage to the vehicle or its equipment or accessories occurring in connection with the carrying out of the examination during any period while the vehicle is, in connection with the carrying out of the examination, in the custody of the authorised examiner or designated council (as the case may be), and
(b) loss or damage to any other property or personal injury (whether fatal or not), being loss, damage or injury arising out of the use of the vehicle in connection with the carrying out of the examination,
as would rest on a person who, having the same facilities for carrying out the examination as are available to the person who is carrying out the examination, had undertaken for payment to accept the custody of the vehicle and to carry out the same examination under a contract making no express provision with respect to the incidence of liability as between the parties thereto for any such loss, damage or injury.
2. The above Regulation is particularly difficult for a layman to follow. Its exact meaning can only be decided by the courts. The ‘Department’s’ legal advisers have produced the following, which, whilst not a definitive interpretation of the legal position, is intended to make the meaning of Regulation 14(1) clearer. The term examiner in the explanation covers both AEs and Designated Council inspectors.
An examiner will be liable for the following types of damage in certain circumstances.
The types of damage are:
(a) loss or damage to a vehicle that has been submitted for testing,
(b) loss or damage to the equipment or accessories of a vehicle mentioned in (a),
(c) loss or damage to any other property,
(d) personal injury (whether fatal or not).
For an examiner to be liable for the types of damage listed in
(b), the circumstances must be that the damage can be connected to an examination carried out by that examiner whilst the vehicle or accessory concerned was in his custody.
For an examiner to be liable for the types of damage listed in (c) and (d), the circumstances must be that the damage arose as a result of the use of the vehicle and can be connected to an examination carried out by an examiner.
Examples of the type of damage that (a) and (b) are intended to cover are where an examiner, whilst testing a vehicle smashes a brake light, causes the steering to become defective or inflicts other types of harm to the vehicle that did not exist at the time it was left in his possession for testing.
Examples of the types of damage that (c) and (d) are intended to cover are where an examiner gives a vehicle the all clear. Subsequently when it is used the brakes fail and an accident occurs, in which the driver or a passenger is injured or dies or property is damaged. If it can be shown that the examiner cleared the vehicle at a time when the brakes were defective he is liable.