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Son not insured in his dad's car hears court

A MAN who had permission to drive his father's car but was not named on the insurance policy would not have been covered had he injured someone else in an accident.

THE Supreme Court found an insurance company is not liable for any injury caused to a third party by any negligent driving of a person when driving a vehicle with the owner's consent but without being a named driver on their policy.

The insurance company's liability is to the insured and is not a liability owed directly to the injured party.

It was ruling on a legal point raised by a man arising from his District Court conviction for driving his father's car without insurance.

Keith Donnelly was convicted in February 2008 of driving his father Eugene Donnelly's car on January 27, 2007, at Fairgreen, Carlow.

The car was insured under a policy issued by AXA Insurance Ltd to Eugene Donnelly with Eugene Donnelly and his wife as named drivers. Keith Donnelly was not a named driver.

When stopped by a garda and asked for his insurance, he opted to produce it at Athy Garda Station and there produced the insurance certificate issued to his father.

He later appealed his conviction to the Circuit Court which referred legal issues, including a possible point of EU law, for determination by the Supreme Court.


The case involved the court construing provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1961, particularly Section 56.1 of the Act, which provides that a person "shall not use a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place unless either a vehicle insurer, a vehicle guarantor or an exempted person would be liable for injury caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time".

The essential issue was whether the reference to the "vehicle insurer" included a case such as that of Keith Donnelly where an approved insurance policy was in place but did not cover the driver when asked to produce insurance.