The BMF have written to Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke MP, QC, after the Court of Appeal last Friday overturned a judgement that had been made in favour of a motorcyclist seriously injured in a collision with a lorry.
At a hearing at Cambridge County Court last year, motorcyclist Robert Whiteford of Soham, Cambridgeshire, who lost his right leg in the collision in April 2009, had won his case against a Lithuanian transport company, Kubas UAB, but now, despite what the BMF say is accepted as undisputed evidence that the lorry was over the central white line, the motorcyclist, while still on his side of the road, has been held to be riding ‘too close to the centre of the road’ and was therefore the one at fault.
It has also been accepted by all parties that the lorry was too wide for its side of the road and when cornering at the time of the collision was over the white centre line, but simply because motorcyclist Robert Whiteford had agreed with the defence that he should have been riding nearer the centre of his own lane (something experienced motorcyclists know is not necessarily the case), he was held to blame.
Jonathan Watt-Pringle, QC for the lorry firm, therefore argued that the judge ‘was wrong to impose so high a standard of driving on the lorry driver’ adding that: “The collision occurred for one reason and one reason only, and that is because the claimant was driving right close to the centre when he accepted that the course should have been a very different one.”
Allowing the appeal, Lord Justice Richards said of the lorry driver: “A finding of negligence in this case would, to my mind, be to impose an unacceptably high standard on the driver.”
In the letter to Mr Clarke, the BMF complains that the appeal judges in the case had decided bizarrely that the lower court was in error because it was “an unacceptably high standard” for the driver to stay on his own side of the road!
In the light of the judgement, the BMF have asked Mr Clark 'how it can possibly be right that a driver licensed to drive the largest and most dangerous vehicles on the road is not expected to stay on his own side of the road?'
BMF spokesman Jeff Stone said: “There are far too many of these instances where justice for the motorcyclist is hard to come by. It’s a sort of bikeism where it seems merely riding a motorcycle is taken as a contributory factor! This case especially really does beggar belief.”
The report of the appeal case can be read on the Cambridge-News website: