Cyclists: How to avoid paying £100K court costs

court costs

A pedestrian who was looking at her mobile phone while crossing a road has won a little over £4,000 in damages from the cyclist who knocked her over. The judge accepted that the traffic light was green for Robert Hazeldean as he cycled through a busy junction near London Bridge and that Gemma Brushett was looking at her phone, but ruled that Hazeldean was liable to pay damages and court costs of the two-day trial –  currently standing at £100,000.

Judge Shanti Mauger said the two were equally to blame for the incident, but only Brushett was entitled to compensation because she had put in a claim and Hazeldean had not.

Hazeldean has said that he now realises he should have put in a counter-claim at the start of case, but was reluctant to do so because he objected to the ‘claim culture’.

How did this cyclist find himself liable to pay £100,000 court costs?

When Hazeldean was sued by Brushett, he did not seek legal representation. Had he done so, his counsel would most likely have counter-sued – after all, when the case went to court, the judge ruled that the two parties were equally to blame. In other words, had Hazeldean followed legal advice, it’s highly unlikely the case would have ended up in court or that he would have been liable for damages. This case highlights the risks to a defendant that is not insured and when both parties are partly responsible, but only one has claimed damages.

How would cycle insurance have helped in this case?

Yes, cycle insurance not only protects against theft and accidental damage – most policies include third party cover too. For example, cycle insurance from the ETA includes £5m cover against damage caused to property or person. Had Hazeldean had cycle insurance, the whole affair would have been dealt with on his behalf. It’s extremely unlikely that the case would have ended in court, but had it done so, his liabilities would have been covered by the insurance.

Cycle insurance animation

Ethical cycle insurance

On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. Check your small print for so-called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use the term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. Little wonder The Good Shopping Guide has voted us ethical.







  1. Philip


    This case has generated national news.

    Of course statistically cyclists very rarely kill or injure other people.
    When they do it is national news. The anti-cyclist fraternity are usually
    foaming at the mouth in the comment columns.

    The converse is not true. Motor vehicles kill and maim every day.
    Nobody bats an eyelid.

    What is shocking about this case is how Robert has been hammered for
    being “Mr.NIce Guy”. The mobile phone zombie stepping off the pavement
    without looking where she was going was very quick to sue, and will do very
    nicely out of the incident.

    The moral is?

    I would think many more adult cyclists will now take out insurance just in case.
    Oh, and do not make the mistake of assuming everyone has the same moral
    compass as you.

    For the record I am both a cyclist and a motorist, and yes even a pedestrian.
    So I have no axe to grind.

    Odd how when cyclists are involved in incidents

  2. Richard Barber


    Who said the law is an ass, and the judge and woman too I think.

  3. David Futter


    Join CyclingUK. (was Cycling Tourists Club). £50 a year and benefits include 3rd party insurance. They also provide lots of local cycling groups, a good magazine, lots of technical stuff and lobby on behalf of cyclists.

  4. Chris


    I am both utterly flabbergasted and outraged. It seems from the reporting that I have seen that the phone-zombie was the victim of her own asinine stupidity (engrossed in her phone and stepping into the road without looking or paying attention), and the only crime the cyclist apparently committed was being a cyclist and his failure in employing legal representation.
    The Judge seems not to have understood that the laws of physics mean a cyclist cannot stop instantly.
    I cannot but be left wondering whether there is some element of them and us in this case, since almost everyone has a phone and very few people cycle – i.e. treating cyclists as an outgroup, just as seems to be often the case with cyclists versus motorists (again a ratio of few versus almost everyone), and the immense disparity in reportage compared when a pedestrian is killed by a cyclist (weeks of media feeding frenzy), versus killed by a motorist (a mere brief mention followed by almost total silence and mutterings of ‘what does one expect?’).
    It just goes to show once again that the legal system dispenses the Law and not justice. If one expects justice from the legal system, one is likely to be sorely disappointed. This reality is one that lawyers, such as Mr Loophole have amply and frequently demonstrated.

  5. Austen Wilks


    From what I have read the cyclist in this case had time to sound his air horn and also to shout before the collision. I understood that these actions caused the pedestrian to move rapidly away from the line of impact, but unfortunately the cyclist swerved the same way, and they collided. I speculated that the judge in this case reasoned that the cyclist had not significantly reduced speed when he saw the road ahead was not clear, but had relied only on his horn and the shout to clear his path. If this were true then it seemed reasonable to me that the judge had taken the view that the cyclist had not acted with sufficient care, and thus was partly to blame for the accident. Therefore I don’t agree that the outcome of 50% blame each shows any anti-bike bias. Of course the pedestrian also seemed to be at fault, but that did not allow the cyclist to press on regardless, if that is what he did. I would also add that it may not be safe to draw conclusions merely from reports of the court case, having not heard the evidence in full. Anyway, as a result of reading about this case I have joined British Cycling, which provides free 3rd party insurance.

    • The ETA


      British Cycling charges at least £37 per year for third party cover – can be better value to buy full insurance which also covers against theft and accidental damage etc Get an instant quote

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