Insurance Case Watch: Singh v Yaqubi  EWCA Civ 23
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Before an insurance company pays out damages following an accident, one’s claim must be particularised fully. Such a claim will typically include all expenses incurred as a result of the accident, which may include damage to property and expenses for transportation.
Hardip Singh v Rashed Yaqubi is a 2012 case wherein Mr. Singh sued Mr. Yaqubi for damages arising out of an accident in central London which involved Mr. Singh’s Rolls Royce. Mr. Singh, through his counsel, argued that the hire of the Rolls Royce was reasonable considering the type of work that he was in and the image that he had to maintain, elements of which included the perception of success.
What is interesting about this case is that it raises the issue of need and whether such expenses that are claimed can be attributed to need or some other factor.
In the first instance hearing, the judge awarded damages to Mr. Singh in the amount of £8,709.50 (or $13,531.07) and dismissed the part of Singh’s claim, which related to his entitlement to incur hire charges for a further Rolls Royce while the accident vehicle was being replaced.
Mr. Singh appealed to the Court of Appeal on three grounds:
- The judge’s finding on need;
- The judge’s finding on the appropriate sum to be awarded if need was established; and
- Serious irregularity on the judge’s apparent bias.
The appeal was heard before Pill LJ, Black LJ and Sir Stanley Burnton (collectively the “Justices”). On 29 January 2013, Pill LJ delivered the judgment (which the other Justices agreed with).
While the judgment of Pill LJ speaks to some interesting points on the bias ground of appeal, the focus of this piece is on the hire charges and the relevant legal principles to be applied when such a claim is made.
When making a claim one’s starting point must be to show a reasonable need for a replacement car in order to recover special damages for it Giles v Thompson  3 All ER 321, 337h.
Pill LJ also reiterates the dicta from Pattni v First Leicester Buses Ltd  EWCA Civ 1384, that an injured party cannot claim reimbursement for expenditure that is unreasonable if the defendant can show that the cost that was incurred was more than was reasonable.
However in order to determine whether a cost is reasonable, one must determine the need. Although each case will be fact specific, in this specific case there was a fleet of other cars that Mr. Singh could have used, but chose not to.
In cases in Bermuda, where vehicles and access to vehicles is limited, need may be easier to establish. Where a case may turn however is on the reasonableness of the costs incurred.
In conclusion, the appeal judgment of Singh v Yarqubi reminds those that when making a claim for special damages in respect of vehicle costs, it is necessary for the plaintiff to show need and that the costs incurred were reasonable. There is a reverse burden on the Defendant to show that the costs incurred were not reasonable, which may in turn reduce the amount recoverable.
Ultimately, the appeal by Mr. Singh was unanimously dismissed on the basis that Mr. Singh did not establish need as he had other cars to choose from within his partnership’s fleet; such vehicles included a Mercedes and a Range Rover. Arguably, not as luxurious as the quarter million pound Rolls Royce, but luxuries nonetheless.