Bent should have shopped around for a reasonable rate, court rules

Cambridge County Court has ruled that England international footballer Darren Bent paid at least £20,000 too much in credit hire fees and should have shopped around for a better deal.

Bent had claimed £63,000 in credit hire fees through Accident Exchange following a car crash. Allianz challenged the claim,as reported by Insurance Times in December 2009.

Bent v Highways and Utilities Construction & Another, was first heard in March 2010, when Lord Justice Jacob questioned whether credit hire should only be available to claimants who cannot afford spot hire rates.

The Court of Appeal sent the case back to Cambridge County Court and it was reheard earlier this month to look closely at the spot rate, the rates charged by credit hire firms.

The court held that that a reasonable person, if spending their own money, should have hired for a rate significantly lower than that charged.

It said that the amount claimed by Bent, who now plays for Premier League side Aston Villa, was almost £20,000 more than what it would have cost him had he made any steps to act reasonably.

The rate sought was more than 30% above the amount which he could have secured a car for had he made appropriate enquiries.

Bent's Mercedes, which was damaged during the accident, is valued at £72,000. Following the collision, Bent hired an Aston Martin DB9 at £573.28 + VAT per day 94 days.

Martin Saunders, motor and casualty claims manager at Allianz, said: “This case was always about establishing some clear principles that will assist the industry going forward. This has been achieved.”

The case is to return to court to determine the issue of costs.