Case study 1 (Manchester County Court)
Samuel was recently instructed by a defendant insurer to defend a claim brought by an elderly claimant on behalf of a credit hire company.
After hearing evidence from the claimant, the judge dismissed the claim for credit hire in full.
In his judgment, the judge agreed with Samuel’s submission that the circumstances in which the credit hire agreement had been signed by the claimant had left “a bad taste in the mouth”. The claimant believed that the hire vehicle was a “courtesy car” and was free. He was not aware that he was liable for the credit hire charges. The claimant believed that he was being “guided rightly” by his insurers but the judge stated that he had not been.
The judge distinguished the recent authority of Irving v Morgan Sindall  EWHC 1147 (QB) because on the evidence of this case, there was no “contingent liability”. The agreement was therefore unenforceable against the claimant and the hire costs could not be recovered from the defendant insurer.
The judge also found that the claimant had failed to prove a need to hire a replacement vehicle. In his evidence, the claimant accepted that had he known that the vehicle was being hired on credit, he would not have entered into the agreement and would have “stuck it out” for the period his vehicle was being repaired. He also accepted that he could have relied on friends and family to provide lifts and could have undertaken some activities either by telephone or on foot.
If the hire agreement had been enforceable and the claimant had shown a need to hire a replacement vehicle, the judge would have reduced the period of hire from 14 to 7 days.
Case study 2 (Stockport County Court)
Samuel was also recently instructed by a claimant insurer to recover hire charges on behalf of a credit hire company.
The court heard evidence from Samuel’s client and allowed the claim for credit hire in full.
The claimant accepted that he was not impecunious at the time of hire but the defendant had failed to adduce any basic hire rates evidence. The daily charges were therefore awarded in full.
The judge did not reduce the period of hire. The total duration of hire did not, on the facts of the case, represent a failure by the claimant to mitigate his loss.