High Court judges back Helphire’s position on provision of replacement vehicles to not-at-fault parties

Helphire has won a landmark court case in its continuing battle to chase down late payments from insurers.

The credit hire company, which is owed around £291m in fees and late payments, refused to name the insurer, but said the High Court victory ‘clarifies the legal landscape’.

The dispute happened in two similar cases, when the at-fault-insurer offered a hire car to the victim of a collision.

The offended party turned down offer, and instead used Helphire to purchase a replacement vehicle.

When the insurer refused to pick up the bill, Helphire took the company to court claiming it should at the very least pay the bare minimum costs of a replacement car.

A judge ruled in Helphire’s favour and refused the insurer permission to appeal, although the case can be taken straight to the House of Lords.

Group managing director Martin Ward said: “This clear judgment vindicates the position that Helphire takes in the provision of replacement vehicles to the innocent parties of non-fault accidents.

“In particular the judges were critical of the methods used by the third party insurers in approaching not-at-fault parties. In light of recent publicity, the judgment clarifies the legal landscape and raises strategic implications for the future of intervention activity within the credit hire industry.”

An ABI spokesman said: “Insurers will always look to pay reasonable hire car charges, and will want to avoid, wherever possible, disputes being settled in court. The industry credit hire agreement has been in place for a number of years and seeks to set reasonable charges which are acceptable insurers and credit hire providers alike.”

Helphire has made it a priority to make insurers pay for their hire car usage. The firm claims it had received 106% of billed invoices in Q1 of this year compared with just 72% in the same period last year.

The company announced plans in February to axe 150 staff. In April, it pushed forward with a £50m share placing. It has debts of £327m.