Road Traffic Act 1961

Obligation to be insured or guaranteed.

56

56. (1) A person (in this subsection referred to as the user) shall not use in a public place a mechanically propelled vehicle unless either a vehicle insurer, a vehicle guarantor or an exempted person would be liable for injury caused by the negligent use of the vehicle by him at that time or there is in force at that time either—

( a) an approved policy of insurance whereby the user or some other person who would be liable for injury caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time by the user, is insured against all sums without limit (save as is hereinafter otherwise provided) which the user or his personal representative or such other person or his personal representative shall become liable to pay to any person F127 [ ] by way of damages or costs on account of injury to person or property caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time by the user, or

( b) an approved guarantee whereby there is guaranteed the payment by the user, or some other person who would be liable for injury caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time by the user, of all sums without limit (save as is hereinafter otherwise provided) which the user or his personal representative or such other person or his personal representative shall become liable to pay to any person (exclusive of the excepted persons) by way of damages or costs on account of injury to person or property caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time by the user.

F128 [ (2) The insurance required by this section may be subject to the following limitation and the following exception or either of them

F129 [ (a) it may, in so far as it relates to injury to property, be limited to the sum of 1,220,000 per claim, whatever the number of victims, ]

( b ) there may be excepted from the liability covered thereby any liability (in excess of the common law or the statutory liability applicable to the case) undertaken by the insured or the principal debtor by special contract. ]

F130 [ (2A) An approved policy of insurance referred to in paragraph ( a ) of subsection (1) of this section shall extend to damages or costs on account of injury to persons or property incurred by the negligent use of a mechanically propelled vehicle by the user in any of the designated territories to the extent required by the law relating to compulsory insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of mechanically propelled vehicles of the territory where the damages or costs may be incurred, or to the extent required by this Part of this Act, whichever is the greater. ]

(3) Where a person contravenes subsection (1) of this section, he and, if he is not the owner of the vehicle, such owner shall each be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to F131 [ a fine not exceeding 5,000 ] or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

(4) Where, in a prosecution for an offence under this section, it is shown that, a demand having been made under section 69 of this Act,—

( a) the person on whom the demand was made refused or failed to produce a certificate of insurance, certificate of guarantee or certificate of exemption then and there, or

( b) such person, having duly produced such certificate consequent upon the demand, refused or failed to permit the member of the Garda Síochána to whom such certificate was produced to read and examine it,

it shall be presumed, until the contrary is shown by the defendant, that the vehicle was being used in contravention of this section.

(5) Where a person charged with an offence under this section is the owner of the vehicle, it shall be a good defence to the charge for the person to show that the vehicle was being used without his consent and either that he had taken all reasonable precautions to prevent its being used or that it was being used by his servant acting in contravention of his orders.

(6) Where a person charged with an offence under this section was the servant of the owner of the vehicle, it shall be a good defence to the charge for the person to show that he was using the vehicle in obedience to the express orders of the owner.

F132 [ (7) F133 [ ]

F134 [ (8) In this Part a reference to the territory in which a vehicle is normally based is a reference to

( a ) the territory of the state of which the vehicle bears a registration plate, irrespective of whether the plate is permanent or temporary,

( b ) in a case where no registration plate is required for a type of vehicle, but the vehicle bears an insurance plate or a distinguishing sign analogous to the registration plate, the territory of the state in which the plate or sign is issued, or

( c ) in a case where a registration or insurance plate or distinguishing sign is not required for a vehicle, the territory of the state in which the person who has custody of the vehicle is resident.

(9) In this Part

designated territories means the territories of the Member States (other than the State) and Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland;

mechanically propelled vehicle includes a semi-trailer or trailer when used in a public place. ] ]

F135 [ (10) F133 [ ] ]

Annotations

Amendments:

F127

Deleted (4.07.2008) by European Communities (Motor Insurance) Regulatinos 2008 (S.I. No. 248 of 2008), reg. 2(a).

F128

Substituted (1.01.1996) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1995 (S.I. No. 353 of 1995), reg. 3(1), in effect as per reg. 3(3).

F129

Substituted (22.12.2016) by European Union (Motor Insurance) (Limitation of Insurance in relation to Injury to Property) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 655 of 2016).

F130

Substituted (31.12.1995) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1992 (S.I. No. 347 of 1992), reg. 4(1).

F131

Substituted (5.03.2007) by Road Traffic Act 2006 (23/2006), s. 18(1)(a) and table, pt. 1, ref. no. 17, S.I. No. 86 of 2007.

F132

Inserted (5.08.1975) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1975 (S.I. No. 178 of 1975), reg. 3(b).

F133

Deleted (4.07.2008) by European Communities (Motor Insurance) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 248 of 2008), reg. 2(c).

F134

Substituted (4.07.2008) by European Communities (Motor Insurance) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 248 of 2008), reg. 2(c).

F135

Inserted (1.01.1993) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1992 (S.I. No. 347 of 1992), reg. 5(2), in effect as per reg. 3(2).

F136

Substituted by Road Traffic Act 2004 (44/2004), s. 34, not commenced as of date of revision.

Modifications (not altering text):

C53

Prospective affecting provision: section substituted by Road Traffic Act 2004 (44/2004), s. 34, not commenced as of date of revision.

F136 [ 56. (1) A person (in this subsection referred to as the user) shall not use in a public place a mechanically propelled vehicle unless

( a ) either a vehicle insurer or an exempted person would be liable for injury caused by the negligent use of the vehicle, by him or her at that time, or

( b ) there is in force at that time an approved policy of insurance whereby the user or some other person who would be liable for injury caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time by the user, is insured against all sums, subject to subsection (2) of this section, without limit, which the user or his or her personal representative or such other person or his or her personal representative becomes liable to pay to any person (exclusive of the excepted persons) by way of damages or costs on account of injury to person or property caused by the negligent use of the vehicle at that time by the user.

(2) The insurance required by this section may be subject to the following limitations and the following exception or any of them

(a) it may in so far as it relates to

(i) injury to a person, be limited to such sum as the Minister specifies in regulations,

(ii) injury to property, be limited to the sum of 200,000,

in respect of injury caused by any one act of negligence or any one series of acts of negligence collectively constituting one event,

( b ) there may be excepted from the liability covered thereby any liability (in excess of the common law or the statutory liability applicable to the case) undertaken by the insured or the principal debtor by special contract.

(3) An approved policy of insurance referred to in subsection (1)( b ) of this section extends to damages or costs on account of injury to persons or property incurred by the negligent use of a mechanically propelled vehicle by the user in any of the designated territories to the extent required by the law relating to compulsory insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of mechanically propelled vehicles of the territory where the damages or costs may be incurred, or to the extent required by this Part, whichever is the greater.

(4) Where a person contravenes subsection (1) of this section, he or she and, if he or she is not the owner of the vehicle, such owner are each guilty of an offence and are liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 3,000 or, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both.

(5) Where, in a prosecution for an offence under this section, it is shown that, a demand having been made under section 69 of this Act

( a ) the person on whom the demand was made refused or failed to produce a certificate of insurance or certificate of exemption then and there, or

( b ) such person, having duly produced such certificate consequent upon the demand, refused or failed to permit the member of the Garda S í och á na to whom such certificate was produced to read and examine it,

it shall be presumed, until the contrary is shown by the defendant, that the vehicle was being used in contravention of this section.

(6) Where a person charged with an offence under this section is the owner of the vehicle, it is a defence to the charge for the person to show that the vehicle was being used without his or her consent and either that he or she had taken all reasonable precautions to prevent its being used or that it was being used by his or her employee acting in contravention of his or her instructions.

(7) Where a person charged with an offence under this section was an employee of the owner of the vehicle, it is a defence to the charge for the person to show that he or she was using the vehicle in compliance with the express instructions of the owner.

(8) In this Part designated territories means the European territories of the Member States of the European Communities (other than the State) and Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

(9) In this Part a reference to the territory in which a vehicle is normally based is a reference to

( a ) the territory of the state of which the vehicle bears a registration plate,

( b ) in a case where registration is not required for a type of mechanically propelled vehicle, but the vehicle bears an insurance plate or a distinguishing sign analogous to the registration plate, the territory of the state in which the plate or sign is issued, or

( c ) in a case where a registration plate, an insurance plate or a distinguishing sign is not required for a mechanically propelled vehicle, the territory of the state in which the person who has custody of the vehicle is permanently resident.

(10) In this Part

mechanically propelled vehicle includes a semi-trailer or trailer (whether coupled or uncoupled to a mechanically propelled vehicle) used in a public place;

semi-trailer means the drawn component of an articulated vehicle or a vehicle constructed or adapted for use as such drawn component;

trailer means a vehicle attached to a mechanically propelled vehicle (or to another vehicle attached to a mechanically propelled vehicle) or a vehicle constructed or adapted for the purpose of being drawn by a mechanically propelled vehicle.

(11) Nothing in this Part shall be read as extending compulsory motor insurance cover to any person in or on a semi-trailer or trailer when used in a public place. ]

Editorial Notes:

E598

Note: there was an error in subs. (1) in earlier versions of this section, see DPP v Sherlock [2020] IEHC 362. This is now corrected and the Commission regrets the inaccuracy.

E599

Procedure prescribed for purposes of subs. (1) by Road Traffic Act 1994 (7/1994), s. 41(1)(b) as substituted (21.07.2006) by Road Traffic Act 2006 (23/2006), s. 19(a), S.I. No. 384 of 2006.

E600

Previous affecting provision: subs. (2)(a) substituted (21.12.2011) by European Union (Motor Insurance) (Limitation of Insurance in relation to Injury to Property) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 702 of 2011), reg. 2; substituted as per F-note above.

E601

Previous affecting provision: subs. (2)(a) substituted (4.07.2008) by European Communities (Motor Insurance) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 248 of 2008), reg. 2(b); substituted as per F-note above.

E602

Penalty points in respect of using vehicle without insurance or guarantee, on conviction, imposed (1.06.2003) by Road Traffic Act 2002 (2/2012), s. 2 and sch. 1 part 1 ref. no. 12, S.I. No. 214 of 2003.

E603

Previous affecting provision: subs. (2) substituted by Road Traffic Act 2002 (12/2002), s. 17, not commenced.

E604

Previous affecting provision: fine in subs. (3) increased (31.10.2002) by Road Traffic Act 2002 (12/2002), s. 23(1)(a) and table part 1 ref. no. 18, S.I. No. 491 of 2002; increased again as per F-note above.

E605

Previous affecting provision: subs. (7) substituted (12.10.2001) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 463 of 2001), reg. 3; subs. (7) deleted as per E-note above.

E606

Previous affecting provision: subs. (7) substituted (1.01.1996) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1995 (S.I. No. 353 of 1995), reg. 3(2), in effect as per reg. 3(3); subs. (7) deleted as per F-note above.

E607

Previous affecting provision: subs. (9) substituted (1.01.1993) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1992 (S.I. No. 347 of 1992), reg. 5(1); subs. (9) substituted as per F-note above.

E608

Previous affecting provision: subs. (10) inserted (1.01.1993) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1992 (S.I. No. 347 of 1992), reg. 5(2); subs. (10) deleted as per F-note above.

E609

Previous affecting provision: subs. (2) substituted (31.12.1987) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1987 (S.I. No. 322 of 1987), reg. 4(1); substituted as per E-note above.

E610

Previous affective provision: fine in subs. (3) increased (18.07.1984) by Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 1984 (16/1984), s. 3(1) and table, ref. no. 5, commenced on enactment; increased again as per E-note above.

E611

Previous affecting provision: subs. (2A) inserted (5.08.1975) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1975 (S.I. No. 178 of 1975), reg. 3(a); substituted as per F-note above.

E612

Previous affecting provision: subss. (7)-(9) inserted (5.08.1975) by European Communities (Road Traffic) (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1975 (S.I. No. 178 of 1975), reg. 3(b); subs. (7) deleted and subss. (8), (9) substituted as per F-notes above.