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British Justice?

The sport of rallying in Britain owes a great deal to Bill Sturrock and to Scotmaps, the contracted provider of Route Notes to all rounds of the Scottish Rally Championship. If a recent court decision had gone the wrong way, motor rallying and indeed motor racing and all other forms of competitive motorised sport could have been badly affected. And given the increasingly litigious nature of society these days, may even have killed the sport off completely throughout the UK as no insurer would have touched it.

Scotmaps has been supplying Rally Notes to events in Scotland and internationally for 16 years, but in 2004 an incident befell a competitor on a Scottish Championship forest rally. He crashed his car on a bend.

The competitor claimed that the Route Notes were at fault and in 2007 set about pursuing Scotmaps through the courts on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis. He was seeking personal compensation of £2.5m plus costs for personal injuries sustained and damage to his car.

Unlike some other companies offering Route Notes for sale, fortunately Scotmaps had liability insurance but ‘only’ to the value of £1m per claim. Scotmaps was faced with a stark choice – defend the action or go bust. Bankruptcy was never an option as this would have resulted in the pursuer winning by default, and motor sport would lose out.

With the support of the insurance company Scotmaps set about defending the action.
After three years the court process finally found in favour of the defendant, but this wasn’t the end of the matter or the end of the road. The pursuer appealed. The Appeal was finally heard in late 2011 and in May 2102 declared that the original court decision was upheld. Scotmaps had no case to answer.

One would think that this should have been the end of the matter. Not at all. The Court had then to determine what costs should be awarded to Scotmaps. As a matter of rule, the Court will not re-imburse the defendant for the whole sum spent, even when declared innocent, but only a percentage of that sum total. That leaves an expensive financial hole for Scotmaps to fill.

This is not the time or the place to discuss the British legal system and the definition of ‘justice’ because there is a more pressing matter to resolve. Helping Scotmaps in their time of need.

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