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Credit Hire: Challenging the period of hire

29 Aug 2013, 11:49 by Priya Bakshi

Labels: barrister, claimant, court-of-appeal, credit-hire, defendant, direct-access, public-access, road-traffic-accident

In many credit hire claims, the defendant seeks to challenge and reduce the charges. The recent Court of Appeal decision in Opoku v Tintas (July 2013) is likely to be significant in relation to long periods of hire. 

The claimant and the defendant were involved in a road traffic accident. The defendant drove into the back of the claimant's car and the repairs were later estimated at £3,400. The defendant denied liability and further denied that all the damage was caused by this accident. The claimant was impecunious and so stored his own vehicle and took out a hire vehicle pending repairs. Over a two year period the cost of hiring the vehicle amounted to £130,000 plus £19,000 for the cost of storing his own vehicle.

The judge at first instance held that the defendant caused the accident and all the damage was caused by this accident. However it was found that even though the claimant was impecunious, he failed to mitigate his loss. The claimant should have had his own vehicle repaired sooner and it was unreasonable for the claimant not to do so. The claimant was therefore awarded £63,000, equating to less than half the pleaded loss.

The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge's decision. Although it may not have been reasonable for the claimant to repair his vehicle immediately after the accident, there came a time when it was reasonable to do so. The key point was the difference between the cost of repairing the vehicle at £3,400 compared with the cost of hiring a vehicle at £5000 per month.

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