Friday 6 April 2012

Rally - Munro v Scotmaps

There has been much in the national press over the past couple of days regarding the Raymond Munro v Scotmaps court case, but celebrations would be premature. Although Mr Munro has lost this Appeal he now has the right to Appeal to the House of Lords. So it ain’t over yet. He has 28 days to lodge this Appeal so it’s going to be a month before we know the final outcome.

The whole thing arose following an accident on the 2004 Speyside Stages Rally when Mr Munro crashed his Subaru Impreza and blamed a wrong Route Note for causing the accident. He therefore raised an action in 2007 against Bill Sturrock of Scotmaps, who prepared and provided the Route Notes,

In the subsequent court case, Mr Munro’s claim was rejected so he appealed. That Appeal has now been heard and the original court decision upheld. However, there remains one avenue open to Mr Munro, an Appeal to the highest court in the land.

The trouble is, defending this long running action over the past five years has cost Bill Sturrock dear. His business and his house are being used as collateral to pay his legal costs which currently amount to well into six figures. Indeed some people held the uncharitable view that the prosecutors were seeking to prolong proceedings in the belief that Scotmaps might be forced into bankruptcy and they would win the case by default. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Even if there is no further Appeal (which could take up to two more years!), Scotmaps will have to raise an action to try and recoup their legal costs and there is no guarantee that this will succeed. Scotmaps is not yet out of the ordure.

This whole issue was of serious concern, not just to rallying, but to motor sport in general, as it called into question the validity of the ‘Disclaimer’ which every competitor signs prior to the start of any and all motor sports events. Had Mr Munro won his case, the whole sport would have been open to claims from competitors (and their relatives) on other competitors, officials, marshals - and even their friends who were helping by tightening wheel nuts! The sport would have become a litigation free-for-all. This is not an over-statement, but this could have killed off motor sport in the UK.

So despite being cleared of the charge, Bill Sturrock is facing a legal bill that would panic a city banker.

Plans are afoot to instigate a fund to help Bill, so look out for more news of this soon. For the moment, the sport awaits news of any final Appeal being lodged.

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