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Vehicles must be insured unless they are declared off the road

A recent case in the Court of Justice of the European Union, Fundo de Garantia Automovel v Juliana and another (Case C-80/17) has highlighted the position relating to insurance and motor vehicles which have been taken off the road. The Court ruled that vehicles which are not formally withdrawn from use and are capable of being driven require insurance. This would be applicable even if the owner no longer intends to drive the vehicle and has chosen to park it on private land.

The Law in the UK

The above finding from the Court of Justice of the European Union already forms part of English law. S.144A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that it is an offence to keep a motor vehicle which does not meet insurance requirements. This means that the registered keeper will commit an offence if their vehicle is not insured and has not been declared as off the road.

The DVLA provide advice in relation to what a person should do with their vehicle if they wish to take it off the road. An individual needs to make a Statutory Off Road Notification, more commonly known as SORN. This should be done when a vehicle is off the road and is not kept or used on a public road.

A SORN must be made in the following circumstances:-

  • The vehicle is not taxed
  • The vehicle is not insured
  • The vehicle is to be broken down for parts before scrapping
  • A vehicle is bought or received and it will be kept off the road. A SORN cannot be transferred from a previous keeper

Consequences

Where an individual fails to obtain the correct insurance or declare a vehicle as off the road a criminal offence will be committed under s.144A Road Traffic Act 1988. The DVLA will bring a private prosecution against an individual in contravention of this section. An initial fixed penalty may be payable of £100.00. However, a different amount can be substituted by the court so a fine of up to £1,000.00 could be payable on top of a criminal conviction.

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