New rules: pleading specific issues in relation to the hire of replacement vehicles

The recently published 113th update to the Practice Directions that supplement the Civil Procedure Rules included an important amendment to Practice Direction 16 (Statements of Case). The amendment, which comes into force today, introduces new obligations on a claimant claiming the cost of a replacement hire vehicle. There is now a requirement for claims that include “the cost of hire of a replacement motor vehicle following a road traffic accident”, for specific details relating to this element of the claim (as set out below) to be set out in the particulars of claim.

The new rule amends Practice Direction 16, with new wording at paragraph 6.3 and 6.4, and an amendment to paragraph 8.2(8) as follows:

"Hire of replacement motor vehicle following a road traffic accident

6.3 Where the claim includes the cost of hire of a replacement motor vehicle following a road traffic accident, the claimant must state in the particulars of claim:-

(1) the need for the replacement vehicle at the relevant time;

(2) the period of hire claimed (providing the start and end of the period);

(3) the rate of hire claimed;

(4) the reasonableness of the period and rate of hire; and

(5) impecuniosity (if the claim relates to credit hire).

6.4 In paragraph 6.3 :-

(1) “ relevant time” means at the start of the hire and throughout the period of hire:

(2) the obligation to state the matters there set out includes an obligation to state relevant facts”.

 In paragraph 8.2(8), “mitigation of loss and damage” is replaced with “a claim for mitigation expenditure”.

Comment

It remains to be seen whether the courts will go so far as striking out a claimant’s claim for failure to plead the credit hire claim in accordance with the new requirements under the amended Practice Direction. It would appear however, that given this new requirement, the courts may take a strong stance on any failures to comply with the new rule or poor pleading of any credit hire claim.

It is also important to note that the need for “mitigation expenditure” is a general one and not just confined to car hire cases. It should be remembered that a claim for the cost of hire of a replacement vehicle is a claim for expenditure incurred in the mitigation of the primary loss, namely the loss of use of the damaged vehicle. The burden is therefore on the claimant to prove (and now plead) that such expenditure was reasonably incurred. It has to be right therefore that a claimant who wishes to justify a claim for hire charges incurred on a credit basis should be required to plead and prove it.

Related item: Intervention letters: an important strategy for tackling credit hire