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Bent v (1) Highways & Utilities Construction Ltd (2) Allianz Insurance PLC [2010] EWCA Civ 292




[2010] EWCA Civ 292 CA (Civ Div)

2010-03-29

In assessing the liability of insurers to pay the hire charges for a motorist's replacement car following a road traffic accident for which their driver was responsible the judge had erred in declining to assess the "spot hire" rate on the basis that evidence of the position at a somewhat later date than that of the hire was irrelevant. Working with comparables and making adjustments was the daily diet of judges concerned with valuation in all sorts of fields and evidence of the spot rate a year or so later than the relevant date was likely to throw considerable light on what the spot rate would have been at the time.

HELD: In the case of a pecunious claimant, the damages to be awarded were normally to be assessed at "spot hire" rates; that was the rate at which a broadly similar car could be had on the market. The heart of the judge's reasoning had been that evidence of the position at a somewhat later date than that of the hire was irrelevant. That was a mistake. Very often when assessing valuation evidence in all sorts of fields, the court had evidence of prices of the same or similar things at different dates and had to make appropriate adjustments. Working with comparables and making adjustments was the daily diet of judges concerned with valuation in all sorts of fields. Clearly, evidence of the spot rate a year or so later than the relevant date was likely to throw considerable light on what the spot rate would have been at the time. In those circumstances, it was appropriate to order a retrial in which it would be open to both sides to adduce what evidence they chose about spot rates and equivalent rates.