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Nettleship v Weston [1971] 3 WLR 370 Court of Appeal

The defendant was a learner driver. She was taking lessons from a friend. The friend checked that the defendant's insurance covered her for passengers before agreeing to go out with her. On one of the lessons Mrs Weston turned a bend, Mr Nettleship told her to straighten the wheel but Mrs Weston panicked and failed to straighten the wheel. She approached the pavement and Mr Nettleship grabbed the handbrake and tried to straighten the wheel but it was too late. She mounted the pavement and hit a lamp post. Mr Nettleship fractured his knee. The defendant argued that the standard of care should be lowered for learner drivers and she also raised the defence of volenti non fit injuria in that in agreeing to get in the car knowing she was a learner, he had voluntarily accepted the risk.  

 

Held:

A learner driver is expected to meet the same standard as a reasonable qualified competent driver. Volenti did not apply as he had checked the insurance cover which demonstrated he did not waive any rights to compensation. His damages were reduced by 50% under the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 to reflect the degree to which he was also at fault.
 
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