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Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018

Coward v MIB [1963] 1 QB 259

Workman carried to work on colleague’s motorcycle; whether intention to create legal relations


Mr Coward was a pillion passenger on a motorcycle owned and driven by his work colleague Mr Cole. There was an accident resulting from Mr Cole’s negligence, and both were killed. Mrs Coward obtained judgement for damages which was not paid out because Mr Cole’s insurance policy did not provide cover for him to carry pillion passengers. She sought to recover damages from the MIB claiming a policy should have been in place under Road Traffic Act 1930 Part II.


Under the Road Traffic Act 1930 Part II a passenger who is carried for hire or reward in the insured’s vehicle must be covered on the driver’s insurance policy. Mrs Coward contended that her husband and Mr Cole had reached an agreement whereby he would regularly provide lifts to work on his motor cycle in return for certain cash payments. She argued this amounted to a contractual obligation and, therefore, the risk to her husband should have been covered by Mr Cole’s policy or, failing that, by the MIB under their agreement with the Ministry of Transport. The MIB argued there was no legally enforceable contract between Mr Cole and Mr Coward as there had been no intention to create legal relations. They also argued that a motor cycle was not a ‘vehicle’ for the purposes of the Road Traffic Act 1930.


Mrs Coward’s claim was unsuccessful. Neither party intended there was a legal obligation to carry and be carried to and from work, under a binding contractual agreement. Mr Coward was not a passenger who Mr Cole was under a duty to ensure and the MIB, therefore, were not under an obligation to satisfy the judgement.

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