Martin Fullard this month tackles a law related to vehicles, and its implication for events
Back in 2014, a Slovenian man called Mr Vnuk was injured when a tractor knocked him off his ladder on a farm in his native country.
Mr Vnuk tried to claim compensation, but there was some consternation over how the country implemented the EU Motor Insurance Directive into its local law. The Slovenian courts referred a question to the European Court, to clarify whether the need for compulsory third-party insurance should include use of a vehicle as a machine rather than as a means of transport away from public roads.
The European Court ruled that the requirement for compulsory insurance should cover any use of a vehicle, so long as that use is consistent with the normal function.
So how does this affect motorsport? In essence, the Vnuk ruling means that all motorised vehicles would require insurance even when being used on private land, including electric bicycles, quad bikes, forklift trucks and even sit-on lawnmowers.
So too the ruling would apply to motorsport: everything from cadet karting and mini-moto riding right up to the highest echelons of racing. The result would be that any motor-racing crash or incident would be treated under the Road Traffic Act: it would be uninsurable and therefore motorsport right across Europe would cease to exist. Insurers have confirmed as much.
Bad news indeed.
However, there seems to be hope that logic is on the verge of prospering. A resolution to the Vnuk case has taken a step in the right direction after an EU government committee recommended motorsport be exempt from new insurance law wording.
In a report from the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee issued in November, it was recommended that the phrase ‘in traffic’ be added to the law to differentiate from motorsport.
This, of course, still needs to be voted through by the European Parliament, Commission and Presidency of the EU, but it’s certainly good news for the motorsport community across the continent.
Motorsport UK chief executive officer Hugh Chambers said: “We welcome this latest development, which appears to be heading in the right direction, and will be working with the FIA to ensure a positive outcome.
“Motorsport UK has been making the case for excluding motorsport from the Motor Insurance Directive since 2014. The VNUK threat has not gone away but the direction of travel is looking more favourable and we will continue to lobby on behalf of all our members and stakeholders.”
Brexit or no Brexit, UK motorsport event organisers need to be as vocal as possible.