On the 6th April 2020 amendments to Practice Direction 16 (PD16) of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) came into force. These amendments require Claimants that bring credit hire claims to provide additional information regarding the hire of a vehicle and their financial stability at the time of hire.
Claimants need to comply with the following within their statement of case: –
CPR Practice Direction 16, Paragraphs 6.3 and 6.4.
Hire of replacement motor vehicle following a road traffic accident
6.3 Where the claim includes the cost of hire of a replacement motor vehicle following a road traffic accident, the claimant must state in the particulars of claim—
(1) the need for the replacement vehicle at the relevant time;
(2) the period of hire claimed (providing the start and end of the period);
(3) the rate of hire claimed;
(4) the reasonableness of the period and rate of hire; and
(5) impecuniosity (if the claim relates to credit hire).
6.4 In paragraph 6.3—
(1) “relevant time” means at the start of the hire and throughout the period of hire;
(2) the obligation to state the matters there set out includes an obligation to state relevant facts.
The impact is not as significant as claimed by some Defendants. However, it does require the Claimant to plead additional information addressing the above. There is no requirement to provide any evidence in support of any assertion of impecuniosity. If the requirements are not adhered to, there is a lack of any specified sanction. This is a problem for Defendants that may want to challenge Claimants on this issue.
In reality these changes have not made a significant difference to matters. The Claimants are required to provide a little more information in the Particulars of Claim, which is provided in most cases in any event. However, it has become necessary to address certain aspects in the Particulars of Claim, and again in the Claimants’ Witness Evidence. Despite the potential duplication and additional burden upon Claimants, in what is mostly fixed fee matters, this is a step forward to a more uniformed approach to credit hire claims, albeit a small step.
It appears that Defendant Practitioners would have preferred the whole claim to be condensed into the Particulars of Claim. They would have welcomed amendments that compelled Claimants to provide substantial evidence and information in support of their claim despite the fact that a Defence would not have been filed at that stage. In reality, what they are asking The Civil Procedure Rules Committee to do is to compress the majority of the litigation process (such as disclosure, witness evidence etc) into the Claimants’ Particulars of Claim. Some insurers are in fact pushing for this level of detail in the Particulars of Claim. The Rules Committee appear to not have the appetite for such drastic changes based on the above. However, do not be surprised if their appetite changes as credit hire has, and always will be, a fluid area of law.
We consider the level of detail sought by some insurers is draconian and unreasonable. This is especially true when there is an absence of any evidence that the Claimants have acted unreasonably in entering into and/or remaining in a credit hire vehicle.
In any event, it would be prudent to appropriately plead the claim so as to ensure compliance with the updated Civil Procedure Rules. It should be noted that failure to do so may result in some Defendants making applications to Debar the Claimants from relying on the fact of Impecuniosity. The consequences of such are a debarment will impact not only the rate of hire being recoverable but also the period of hire (Opoku.v.Tintas  EWCA Civ 1299).
In conclusion, the ‘screw’ on credit hire claims has been slightly ‘nudged’ rather than ‘tightened’ with this round of amendments.