Filtering Accident, recent judgement

Until now, Davis v Scroggins (2006) has been the authority that has helped filtering riders claim 100% liability in filtering crashes. This case was particularly relevant as the filtering rider was travelling at speed despite the fact that he was travelling in excess of 50MPH whilst filtering.

However, yesterday a new case was reported on appeal where because of the high speed, the rider was held 80% liable with the car driver held only 20% liable.

Whilst filtering cases have to be judged on merit, and if speed is kept to a reasonable level it should make no difference, just be aware that there is now a new weapon in the defendants armoury.


CA (Civ Div) (Sir Anthony May (President QBD), Black LJ, Kitchin LJ) 18/10/2011



A driver was found to be 20 per cent liable for a road traffic accident caused when he turned whilst being unable to see an approaching motorcycle being driven quickly and overtaking other vehicles. Where a driver was unable to see what was behind him it was necessary for him to inch out to gain a better view.

The appellant (E) appealed against a decision that he had been negligent and was one-third responsible for a road traffic accident involving E and the respondent (B). E was driving his car at the front of a queue of traffic. He slowed down, looked in his mirror and saw nothing except a larger vehicle behind him. E, when almost at a standstill, then started to turn right into a car park. The driver of the vehicle behind E then saw a motorcycle, driven by B, at the corner of his vehicle, overtaking. B drove forwards, collided with E’s car and sustained severe injuries. At trial the judge found that B was driving at an unsafe speed and in such a way that he could not deal with an emergency and so was negligent. However, it was also found that it was E’s duty to move his car closer to, and perhaps over, the centre of the line in the road so that, using his wing mirror, he could have seen B approaching and that E’s failure to do so meant that he was causatively responsible for the accident. It was found that B was two-thirds responsible and E one-third responsible for the accident. E submitted that although any driver should have been aware of any other driver overtaking on the outside, he had slowed down and checked just before he turned and, to require more, was a counsel of perfection.

HELD: (1) It was common ground that in driving along such a road, there was a need to be particularly aware of the presence of motorcycles and that they might overtake lines of cars. E initially acted with considerable care but, when crawling, he could not see what might be coming up on the offside. As the size of the vehicle behind E’s car meant that E could not see clearly, he should have inched out. Where a driver could not see what was behind him, he had to take that step. E’s appeal in respect of negligence was therefore unsuccessful. (2) B’s negligence was of a very high order and contributed to what happened. The issue of blameworthiness of E and B required greater analysis than it received. Proper apportionment had to take into account the different negligence issues in respect of E and B. It was appropriate to set aside the trial judge’s apportionment and replace it with apportionment that B was 80 per cent and E 20 per cent liable.

Appeal allowed in part

So word of warning guys, be carefull with your speed when filtering

Being pedantic, the description of what the biker was doing does not sound like filtering to me, merely overtaking a line of traffic.

But I think it sounds quite fair that someone overtaking at such a relative speed should be held at least partly accountable.

I always thought filtering is what you do when there is standing traffic, and it’s overtaking when everything is moving.

What is the difference?

Filtering is just another term used for overtaking.

However we tend to use the term filtering for slow speed overtakes, whilst higher speeds or on the open road we use the term Overtake.

But the reason this is quite significant is that in the case of Davis v Scroggin, traffic was stationary and the rider passed at high speed (estimated to be around the 50mph mark), and so now the speed isue becomes more significant, even though the statutory duty of care remains with the driver to ensure that it is safe before they change position, if the rider is perceived to be travelling too quickly for the circumstances, then there will be a large degree of contributory negligence attributed against the rider.

Filtering is surely passing between lanes, overtaking is around the outside of them? At least I read para 88 of the Highway Code that way, as it refers to “filtering IN” (my emphasis)

88Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.

Found what I was looking for. Para 211 of the Highway Code, addressed to drivers, makes the distinction:

211It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic.

nice find

As I read it ‘filtering’ is applicable only to motorcycles as cars can’t do it, hence the word ‘or’ quoted.

The word ‘in’ in ‘filtering in traffic’ surely just means ‘in the midst of traffic’ or ‘between traffic’- the traffic could be going in the same direction as you or coming towards you- you are still ‘in’ traffic.

Filtering/overtaking is all semantics. What matters is that when passing another vehicle, on either side, you are responsible for making sure it is safe to do so. When turning out of a line of traffic and potentially crossing the path of other vehicles, you have a duty to make sure it is safe to do so.

A huge difference between Scroggins and this case is that in Scroggins there was no reason for the driver not to see the motorcyclist, regardless of speed. In this case the motorcyclist can’t have seen the car if the car couldn’t see him, and therefore shouldn’t have been approaching the entrance of a car park at speed when he couldn’t see if anyone was there about to turn. This is exactl ythe opposite of Scoggins where both vehicles could see one another and there was no side turning (IIRC)

If you’re filtering at 50mph then I think you have to accept some responsibility, especially if you’re passing large vehicles opposite junctions.

It is Schrogin, not scroggins.

And in Schrogin the guy was overtaking, not filtering, as in this case.

I don’t think this case will impact on Schrogin, as the facts are very different.

In one a person was turning into a carpark and had checked their mirrors and done most everything that could be expected, but had a blindspot.

In the other a person did a U-Turn because they did not want to sit in traffic and did so because they were annoyed or irritated by being in traffic and therefore did not bother to look first.

You are of course right. A legal authority minefield! Even the RAC list it as Scroggins on their website and several lawyer’s websites touting for business refer to it as Scrogin!