Friday Law Report: Accident Car Hire Agreement Was Regulated by Consumer Credit Act ; 19 January 2001 Ketley V Gilbert Court of Appeal (Lord Phillips, Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Brooke and Lord Justice Robert Walker) 21 December 2000
Kate O'Hanlon, The Independent (London, England)
AN ACCIDENT hire agreement which provided that the hirer should make a single payment on the expiry of 12 months beginning with the date of the agreement was a regulated agreement within the meaning of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of the claimant, Michael Ketley, against the decision of a county court judge to allow the appeal of the defendant, Claire Gilbert, against an assessment of damages by a district judge in an action arising out of a car accident.
The accident rendered the claimant's car temporarily unroadworthy, and he entered into a written car hire agreement with an accident hire company. Clause 5(1) of the agreement provided that the charges should be paid by a single payment either when the claim arising out of the accident was satisfied, or "on the expiry of 12 months starting with the date of this agreement", whichever was earlier.
In the county court, the defendant's challenge was limited to that part of the award of damages which related to the charges under the car hire agreement. The judge ruled that the agreement was a regulated agreement within the meaning of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and that, since its formalities did not comply with the requirements of the Act, following the decision of the House of Lords in Dimond v Lovell  2 All ER 897 the accident hire company would be unable to recover its charges from the claimant, and consequently would not be entitled to recover them from the defendant or her insurers.
Article 3(1) of the Consumer Credit (Exempt Agreements) Order 1989 provided: "The [Act] shall not regulate a consumer credit agreement which is... a debtor-creditor-supplier agreement being... an agreement for fixed-sum credit under which the total number of payments to be made by the debtor does not exceed four, and those payments are required to be made within a period not exceeding 12 months beginning with the date of the agreement. …