Motor & General Insurance Co. Ltd v P.C. 431 Arkurst and Another (Civil Appeal No. 2/75)  SLSC 3 (01 January 1976);
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF SIERRA LEONE
CORAM: Hon. Mr. Justice C.O.E Cole
- Chief Justice Hon Mr. Justice S.C.H. Betts
- Justice of the Supreme C+ Hon. Mr. Justice E, L. Luke
- Justice of the Supreme Ct. Hon. Mrs. Justice A.V.A, Awunor-Renner
- Justice of Appeal Hon. Mr. Justice S.,C .D, Warne
- Justice of Appeal
Civil Appeal No. 2/75 BETWEEN:-
Motor & General Insurance Co. Ltd, - Appellants
P.C. 431 Arkurst and - Respondents
P.C, 173 Santigie
O. Garber Esq. ( with him M.J. Clinton Esq. for the Appellants).
K. Basma Esq. (with him U.W. Coler Esq|-
Christine Harding and G. Betts Esq.) for the Respondents. E . J,A.
My Lords, I have had the opportunity and pleasure of reading erudite Judgment of my Honourable and Learned brother Luke, J.S.C. is be express my gratitude and great appreciation for the industry he his exerted and the lueid reasoning he has advanced in Saving at his fin 1 conclusion. However, with the greatest respect lisa, I do not agree with his reasoning nor the final conclusion, frequently, My Lords, I shall treat the cause before us in this way.
The facts of the case have been clearly stated by ray learned whether Luke , J.S.C. and the course the cause his travelled to this I entirely agree with on what is to be proved by the respondent as required by 5. 11(1) of Motor Vehicles (Third Party insurance Act Cap. 133 of the Law of Sierra Leone (hereinafter called Act"). I shall not. tire you with repetition of what my
Learned brother has already started .
It is my considered Judgement that the claim of respondents under Section 11(1) of the Act is absolute. The resondents are not parties to the contract between the Insurer and the Insured, nonetheless this section give the Respondents the right to make the claim.
See sub-section 11(1) beginning at "not withstanding ............. ............. to the end.
I agree with the witters which, my Learned brother said are beyond dispute with regard to Police Sergeant Coker's evidence. Under (iv), I feel the requirements stated therein, in accordance with S. 6 of "The Act" and Rule 10 of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Rules deal with the issue of road Licence for the vehicle . This has nothing to do with the third party under "The Not" except in so far as the expiry date of the policy of Insurance in concerned vis a vis his claim under S.11 (l) of "The Act".
My Lords, I do not think it is in necessary for this Court, in the instant case, to construe the provision of S. 6 of ''The Act," since the issue of a valid road licence for car "WU. 6303 does not arise, order to such in their claim, the respondents dirt not have to prove whether the vehicle had a valid road licence or not.
What is the evidential value of Exh. "B"? I will concede that the Principal Licensing Authority entered more particulars Ex: "B" than was required by law. Did this render the entry valid or of no evidential value ? I do nob think so.
I will examine the provision of law which made Exh. "B" receivable in evidence. S. 61 (J ) Road Traffic Act, No. 62 of 54 had cured the infraction of what would otherwise bo hearsay evidence .
S. 61(1) reads:
"In any cause or matter relating to a motor vehicle or to my licence, permit certificate or other document , issue under their Act or any regulation made thereunder , the production of a document purporting to be, a copy of any
entry in a register or a copy of a licence, perrit, certificate or other document as aforesaid by or from the records of the Principal Licensing Authority or a Licensing Authority,or any officer deputed by such Authority for that purpose, shall be prima facie evidence of any matter, fact or thing stated or appearing thereon"
It is .therefore evident that the entries on Exh. "B" are prima facie evidence of what is stated thereon, provided the entries are ones required to be made according to law.
See Lyell V. Kennedy 14 App . Cas_.437 at 449 however a clear distinction must be drawn between the oases referred to by my Learned brother and myself supra, from the instant case. This Hon. Court has never boon called upon to interpret the entries on the Register of Motor Vehicles And Trailers, nor has it ever given an opinion on their evidential value. In a long line of cares it has been held ,that what is not required to bo entered according to law cannot be admitssible in evidence as proof of such entry. It should be noted,. however , that these cases have dealt primarily with registration of births, deaths, bantisms, marriages, and pedigree. In a cause of this nature , it is my considered view, the principle is not applicable.
As my Learned brother has clearly pointed 3 out the relevant entry on Exh. "B" is:
RENEWAL OF LICENCE
PERIOD INSURANCE POLICY
year Licence No From To No Closing date
971 529 27/8 31/12 z 3.8.71
The entries about Insurance on Exh. "B" appear not to be hose that should have been on it. but thin was document which right to be produce under S. 6 of the Art to the Licensing Authority to obtain road licence. I think the Principal
sensing Authority had an implied duty to record the Certificate Insurance so produced on Exh. ''B", My Lords, the provision S. 6 would be dofected. if this were not done. Indeed the object the Act would be nullified and the interest of justice would not promoted. In my opinion, this entry of the certificate of surance constitutes prima facie evidence, that Policy of Insurance centified "Z" expired on 3rd August, 1971. One cannot go beyond what is on Exh. "B" ' S.. 61 (1) refers: is evidence is rebuttable but this has not been done.
This is the evidence the respondents relied on to prove their aim against Appellants, that on the 1st August , 1971 when the Accident took place, the vehicle WU.6303 was insured with the Appellant company.
In any case, Ken During J. in making his findings did not rely only on this evidence, and rightly so. He considered the entire evidence before him. He relied also on the evidence of Muctarr named Kamara the witness for the Appellants.
The Learned Judge had this to say:
"In fact there is no evidence before this Court that the defendants were Insurers against Third Party risks of Mr. Thompson at the material time the accident took place."
the Court of Appeal, the Court found that there was some evidence More the High Court and they proceeded to evaluate and draw the necessary inference ; the Court went further and dealt with the due of estoppel in view of the evidence. The evidence of Police Cokser his been stated an the Judgement of my learned brother, evidence of Muctarr Kamara is pregnant with facts which the respondent could not have known or given in evidence.
My Lords, I an of the opinion that the Court of Appeal, after powerful consideration of the evidence before the Lower Court , drew correct inference that VAT.6303 was insured with the Appellant
Company on the 1st August, 1971-The Court had this to say:
"I think from this evidence it would have been proper to draw the inference that the vehicle was insured on the 1st August 1971."
My opinion is fortified not only by the entry of the expiry date of Certificate of Insurance on Exh. "B", but also by the evidence of Kamara that W.B.A Thompson has a fleet policy with us Payment Exh. D.F. would taken into account when it comes to payment of premium in respect of fleet policy :WU. 6303 is part of fleet policy held by her . I cannot say whether the fleet taken in more then the two vehicles I have mentioned. She has more than 2 vehicles insured with us under fleet policy . Provided I am instructed I actually renew policy even shingle premium not paid. I have previously renewed on instruction H,E,A, Thompson policy in respect of vehicle insured with us ."
I will only add this point to what my learned brother has said about the issue of estoppel of . That is to say , estoppel must be plended at the first opportunity . This, the Respondents failed to do. They therefore cannot avail themself of the issue of estoppel .
M Lords, in view of what I have said supra , I would dismiss the appeal .
S. C. E, Warne
Justice of Appeal.