Extraordinarily, a case involving a passenger opening a car door and scratching a neighbouring vehicle in a supermarket carpark led to a decision before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Europe’s highest court found that this is ‘use of vehicles’ for the purposes of motor vehicle insurance.

The event happened in Latvia where the claim was rejected on the basis that the liability was not one that had to be covered by a compulsory motor policy. The court disagreed and held that the event fell within the concept of ‘use of vehicles’. The act of opening the door of a vehicle amounted to use of the vehicle consistent with its function as a means of transport. A vehicle allows persons to get in and out of the vehicle or to load and unload goods transported in the vehicle.

That conclusion is not affected by the fact that the vehicle is, at the time of the accident, stationary and in a carpark.

The case is BTA Baltic Insurance Co AS v Baltijas Apdrošinašanas NAMS AS.