Court finds MIBI not liable, unlikely that untraceable driver caused collision

Court Finds Mibi Not Liable, Unlikely That Untraceable Driver Caused Collision
Mr Justice Mark Heslin said he had no doubt that all of those involved in the action gave evidence they “sincerely believed to be true”. Photo: PA Images
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A High Court judge has ruled no liability can be visited upon the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) after finding there was likely no untraceable driver responsible for a 2016 collision in Co Wexford.

In a judgment, Mr Justice Mark Heslin said he had no doubt that all of those involved in the action gave evidence they “sincerely believed to be true”. However, on the balance of probabilities, he was satisfied “there was no ‘third car’” as plaintiff Brenda Byrne had described in her evidence, and thus he was obliged to dismiss the claim against the MIBI. 


He also granted a direction dismissing the action against the other driver impacted in the collision, a farmer, who had been named as a defendant, but who, Ms Byrne had stressed, had been driving on the correct side of the road and was “not in any way to blame for the accident”.

Ms Byrne (47), a nurse living in Ballinakill, Ballycarney, Enniscorthy, had sued the MIBI and the farmer over the collision on the evening of July 18th, 2016 in which she sustained significant injuries. The judge noted she has made a remarkable recovery and now considers herself to be “fully better”.


At the heart of Ms Byrne’s case was the assertion that responsibility for the accident lay with an unidentified and untraced driver, Mr Justice Heslin said. 

Ms Byrne had been travelling along a stretch of road between Castlebridge and Croossabeg at about 80km/hr, with three of her nieces, then aged nine, 15 and 16, in tow.


There was no dispute that her car had impacted virtually head-on with the farmer’s vehicle which had been driving in the opposite direction on the correct side of the road. 

Her evidence was that she had encountered a different unidentified car driving straight towards her “fully” on her side of the road, said the judge.

She claimed she definitely saw two sets of headlights driving in parallel, which led her to veer off the road and then back onto it hitting the farmer’s vehicle. She referenced being “blinded” by “really strong halogen lights”. 

The court heard from the farmer and another driver, who had been ahead of the farmer on the road and had gone to the scene following the collision.


There was never any suggestion this other driver had been in any way responsible for the accident, the judge noted.

Both men were clear in their evidence that there had been no third car driving on the wrong side of the road, the judge said.

The court was satisfied that the farmer’s assertion that “there was no other car” was true. He described the incident as having been caused by an “error” on the part of Ms Byrne, but was keen not to ascribe blame. 

Mr Justice Heslin did not consider the plaintiff to have been “anything other than entirely genuine in terms of the testimony she gave”. However, he said: “One can be genuine but genuinely mistaken.”

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