This insurance dispute went all the way to the Court of Justice of the European Union which found that the phrase ‘use of vehicles’ in EU law covered any use of a vehicle as a means of transport.

The fact that a vehicle is stationary when the accident occurs does not itself preclude the use at the time being insured use.

But where the vehicle is intended, apart from normal use as a means of transport, to be used as a machine for carrying out work it is necessary to determine whether at the time of the accident the vehicle was being used principally as a means of transport or as a means of carrying out work.

The concept did not cover the situation in this case in which the tractor had been involved in an accident when its principal function at the time of the accident was to use its motive power to drive the pump of a herbicide sprayer.

Whilst the tractor was being used to spray herbicide, heavy rainfall caused a landslip. The tractor fell down the terraces and overturned, crushing to death a part-time agricultural worker.

The claim failed.

This is a rational decision and one would expect no different answer in a South African court on these facts.

The case is Rodrigues de Andrade v Salvador.