Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Caroline Bridges v Alpha Insurance A/S

On Friday 20 May 2016, after trial before the Hon. Lord Tyre in the Court of Session, a civil jury in personal injuries action found liability established against Alpha Insurance A/S, the insurer of a private hire taxi driver, for a collision with a pedestrian. The jury heard that on 23 November 2014, at around 1 am, the pursuer, Caroline Bridges, aged 63, had crossed over Leith Walk to hail a taxi on the other carriageway. After hailing a taxi, she suddenly turned and retraced her steps into the path of the private hire taxi without looking. Evidence that the pursuer was under the influence of alcohol at the time was not disputed. The pursuer sued the driver’s insurer directly under the European Communities (Rights against Insurers) Regulations 2002. The matter at issue was whether the private hire taxi driver was driving at excessive speed.

 At the conclusion of evidence, Lord Tyre heard submissions from counsel on the appropriate level of solatium, following the change of practice introduced by the Inner House in the case of Hamilton v. Ferguson Transport (Spean Bridge) Ltd. In his charge, Lord Tyre gave guidance to the jury that solatium in respect of the pursuer’s rib fractures and tibial plateau fracture could be valued in the range of £25,000 to £40,000.

The pursuer sought to lodge a Note of Exception to the guidance given by Lord Tyre to the jury. Following submissions from counsel, the Note of Exception was held to be incompetent on the bases: firstly, that it came too late as the jury had been deliberating for over an hour; and secondly, that the guidance given by the court was not a ‘direction in law’ as provided in the Rules of the Court of Session. It is anticipated that Lord Tyre will issue a written note of his decision in due course.

The jury found liability established by majority and valued solatium at £32,000. The other heads of damage were agreed between parties at £6,900. The defenders successfully obtained a finding of 85% contributory negligence.

The defenders were represented by Craig Murray, of Compass Chambers.

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