From Jeremy Clarkson's giant Lamborghini tractor to nimble and speedy quad bikes – vehicles, plant and equipment of all shapes and sizes are used, and many are essential to rural businesses. But it's important to know the licensing and insurance requirements for farm vehicles, and the recent change in UK law which is relevant to vehicles being used on private land.
For all vehicles (including farm vehicles), no licence is required to drive on private land – provided that the public are not allowed access to where the vehicle is driven. However, the position on insurance for vehicles on private land has been unclear for some time.
Historically, there was no requirement to have motor insurance for vehicles on private land; but, this changed with a decision of the European Court of Justice in 2014. In Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav, the court ruled that compulsory motor insurance was required for vehicles, including those which were being driven on private land. There was then a period of uncertainty because the UK legislation did not reflect this decision.
That uncertainty has now been resolved by the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Act 2022, which has received Royal Assent and will come into force on 28 June 2022. This short Act confirms that when it comes into force, compulsory insurance will no longer be required other than for motor vehicles on a road or "other public place".
This Act provides helpful clarity for vehicle owners in the UK. However, even though motor insurance is not required for vehicles in use on private land, it is important to consider whether other types of insurance should be obtained – for example, Employers' Liability insurance (which is a legal requirement for employers in the UK) for any accidents involving employees, including when using vehicles on private land; or, Public Liability insurance, to provide cover for accidents or property damage affecting third parties. For many businesses, even where insurance is not legally required, it may not be worth taking the risk of having to meet the costs directly, if an accident does occur.