is public liability a legally requiredWhilst public liability insurance is seen as an essential protection for most people whether in a business or private capacity it is not a legal requirement in the United Kingdom other than in certain circumstances.

When is public liability insurance legally required?

Whilst, for many this question relates to whether public liability is a legal requirement for business, by far the most common form or legally required public liability insurance is of course in motor vehicles.

Under the Road Traffic Act Section 143, and it’s previous incarnations, it is an offence to operate a motor vehicle without third party liability insurance.

This is the only mandatory public liability insurance that most private individuals and companies will need but there are other circumstances where an individual may require cover at law.

  • The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 requires anyone keeping an animal covered by the terms of the act to maintain third party liability insurance.
  • The Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations 2005 require air carriers or aircraft operators in order to be licensed to hold third party and passenger liability insurance.
  • The Riding Establishments Act 1970 requires anyone “carrying on of a business of keeping horses to let them for hire, for riding, or for use in providing in riding for payment” to hold public liability insurance.
  • The Nuclear Installations Act 1965 requires operators of nuclear facilities to hold public liability insurance.
  • The Transport and Works Act 1992 provides for the requirement of public liability insurance for anyone operating or engaged in the construction of railways and tramways.
  • The British Waterways Act 1995 provided the British Waterways Board with the power to require anyone applying for a licence for a houseboat, pleasure craft or hired craft to hold appropriate liability insurance in respect of the use of the vessel.
  • The Outer Space Act 1986 requires anyone launching or operating space objects to be licensed and third party liability insurance is a pre-requisite of gaining such a licence.
  • The Merchant Shipping Act 1995  and the Oil Pollution (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1997 and  require any ship operator of ships in UK waters to hold third party liability insurance in respect of pollution and other incidents.

Whilst the majority of businesses will not be affected by these statutory requirements many will be subject to contractual requirements placed on them by employers and main contractors.

All prudent businesses and organisations should in any event hold a policy of public liability insurance in order to protect themselves against claims made against them in respect of property damage, personal injury or death arising during the course of their business or activities.

If you are in any doubt as to whether you need public liability insurance, either as a legal requirement, contractually or as best practice you should contact your insurance broker or alternatively call us direct to discuss your needs with one of our liability specialists.

0161 300 2930 Blackfriars Group