“Byrom Street Chambers is strong for civil instructions and offers an ‘excellent service’ aided by ‘unparalleled clerks’ support' ”

More trial success for Darryl Allen KC

13th March 2023



Darryl Allen KC, instructed by Giles Kellner of DWF Liverpool, represented the Defendant in the case of Evans v A1 Motorcycle Training & Sales Limited.  In a judgment handed down on Friday 10th March, HHJ Sadiq found:


  • There was no breach of duty on the part of the individual instructor or the Defendant motorcycle training school.
  • The Claimant trainee motorcyclist's accident was caused by her loss of control of the motorbike.
  • Even if the Claimant had established breach of duty, any breach was not causative of her accident.
  • The duty of a motorcycle instructor is not to ensure a trainee's safety, nor to demonstrate best practice, but is to exercise reasonable skill and care in the performance of their duties.
  • A learner rider owes the same objective reasonable standard of care as an experienced rider.
  • Had primary liability been established, the judge would have found 60% contributory negligence.




The Claimant was a learner motorcyclist, having previously ridden a 250cc bike on private land.  In order to ride on public roads, she needed a licence, so she booked a series of lessons with the Defendant.

At trial, there was a dispute between the parties as to whether the Claimant wanted to obtain an “A licence”, which would allow her to ride any motorcycle, or an “A2 licence” which would have allowed her to ride her 250cc bike but not much larger bikes.


The Claimant passed her “CBT” [Compulsory Basic Training] on a 125cc motorbike on Day 1.  She spent the morning of Day 2 riding the 125cc bike.  On the afternoon of Day 2 she moved up to a 500cc bike, covering 90-100 miles.  On Day 3 she was provided with a 650cc and again rode around 100 miles. She claimed that the decision to place her on the 650cc was the instructor's alone and that she struggled with the larger bike.


The instructor was then unavailable for two months. The Claimant returned to the Defendant to continue her training with the same instructor.  Whereas previously she had enjoyed “1-2-1” lessons, on Day 4 she was in a small group lesson with one other rider, who had more general motorbike experience than her. She was allocated a 650cc bike. Her lay evidence described a series of incidents and alarming “near misses” in the early part of her lesson.  After a short break, as the Claimant was negotiating a bend, she lost control of the bike and continued straight on into collision with a refuse wagon which was travelling in the opposite direction.  The Claimant unfortunately sustained very serious injuries, including a forequarter amputation and a traumatic brain injury.


The Claimant brought proceedings against the Defendant alleging, in essence, (i) inadequate supervision and monitoring of her progress, (ii) pushing her to take the A licence rather than the A2 licence, (iii) progressing her too quickly to a large 650cc bike, (iv) pushing her to ride too fast on the day of the accident, and (v) failing to stop the lesson after a series of allege “near misses”.




In a long and detailed judgment, HHJ Sadiq dismissed the Claimant’s claim.  He found that there was no breach of duty on the part of the individual instructor or the riding school.  He found in favour of the Defendant on the facts and preferred the Defendant’s expert evidence. 


By the end of trial the Claimant’s case rested almost entirely on the decision to send her out on the 650cc motorbike after the 2 month break.  She alleged that she should have been given a 500cc bike instead.  HHJ Sadiq held that even if such a breach of duty had been established, it was not causative of the accident: there was no credible evidence that the accident would have been avoided or the Claimant’s injuries would have been less severe had she been riding a 500cc bike as opposed to the 650cc bike. 


Finally, had the Claimant established primary liability, the Judge would have reduced damages by 60% to reflect (i) the Claimant’s failure to communicate that she was struggling with the 650cc bike and to stop the lesson herself, and (ii) her failure to negotiate the bend which should have been easily within the competence of any motorcyclist exercising reasonable skill and care.  In this regard the Judge accepted that the standard of care owed by a learner rider/driver is the same as any other rider/motorist, as per Nettleship v Weston [1971] 2 QB 691 (CA).

Associated Members



©2024 Byrom Street Chambers. All Rights Reserved.