Boris’s Promise and the Bicycle Blame Game

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Boris Johnson has responded to a letter from British Cycling and London Cycling Campaign reminding him of his pre-election promise to improve cycling conditions around the capital.

A joint letter from two leading cycling bodies has called for the Mayor of London to accommodate a cycling representative on the London Roads Task Force and to support a comprehensive review of the justice system surrounding cyclists to balance out the accident claims process. In response, Mr Johnson has assured the cycling community that he will take these measures, as well as write a letter to the Lord Chancellor calling for a sentencing review.

According to British Cycling ‘a sentencing review is a key part of the justice process, one that needs a complete review for bad driving offences to ensure that sentences properly reflect the value of life and the consequences on the victim and their family.’*

Stuart Kightley, a Partner at Osbornes Solicitors LLP says ‘I cycle to work in North London every day and witness first-hand the sense of invisibility and the constant danger of car doors being flung open, lorries turning left and drivers on mobile phones looking the other way. The purpose of the civil claim I bring on behalf of injured cyclists is to arrange rehabilitation and to secure compensation to put them back in the position they would have been in if the accident had not happened, so far as money can do that, but I don’t know any clients who would rather have the money than their old life back. They want prevention not compensation.’

However, it is not guaranteed the injured party will even receive compensation in the case of an accident claim. It is currently necessary in a civil claim to prove negligence against the other party and, in the cases where there are no witnesses, this can be difficult. Ultimately, the onus of proof is on the Claimant.

Some groups argue that there should be a change in the law to impose ‘strict liability’ on the vehicle driver involved in an accident where a cyclist or pedestrian is injured. Strict liability means the driver is automatically liable for damages in negligence and the question of who caused the accident is irrelevant.

Kightley goes on to say: ‘the answer is not the change the law but to change the onus of proof, especially in cases where the Claimant is so injured that he is unable to describe the accident (and in fatal accident cases) so that there is a presumption of negligence on the part of the driver. In that way, we may all drive with more consideration for cyclists.’

Osbornes Solicitors LLP is a limited liability partnership, registered in England and Wales (registered number OC357803) which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. They specialise in Family Law (including international adoption and child abduction), Property Law, Property Litigation, Social Welfare, Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates and Personal Injury.

Osbornes Solicitors LLP
Livery House
9 Pratt Street
London NW1 0AE

Tel: 020 7485 8811

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