Credit hire agreements were exempt from the Consumer Credit Act 1974 where the hire charges were required "to be paid within a period not exceeding twelve months beginning with the date of the agreement".Appeals by the claimants from county court decisions that agreements between the claimants and two credit hire companies, Alpha Accident Management Ltd (X) and Western Accident Management Ltd (W), who provided hire cars on credit to the victims of motor accidents were exempt from the Consumer Credit Act 1974 because the hire charges were required "to be paid within a period not exceeding twelve months beginning with the date of the agreement" as provided by para.3 Consumer Credit (Exempt Agreements) Order 1989. In King v Daltray, Mr King's (K) Volvo was damaged whilst it was parked outside his house by Mr Daltray's admitted negligence. K needed a replacement vehicle whilst his own was being repaired to transport his disabled wife. He entered into a rental agreement with X for the hire of a vehicle similar to his own. The agreement purported to be exempt from regulation under the 1974 Act. K's claim was for the total amount due to X under the rental agreement. In Thew v Cole, Mrs Thew's (T) car was damaged beyond economic repair in a collision in a car park for which Mrs Cole was admittedly liable. T needed to hire a replacement car and entered into two agreements with W, a hire agreement and a credit agreement. The credit agreement purported to be exempt from regulation under the 1974 Act. T's claim was for the full amount due under the hire agreement. In each case the hire charges were required to be paid within a period not exceeding twelve months from the date of the agreement. The appellants submitted: (1) that the county courts were wrong to hold that the agreements were exempt under the 1974 Act; (2) that the judge had been wrong not to permit any investigation into whether the hire charges claimed by K were all recoverable because if they included an element that reflected the fact that X provided additional benefits to its customers that element was not recoverable.HELD: (1) The requirement to make payment within a period not exceeding 12 months should be construed to mean that such payments could be required to be made at any time up to and including the last moment of that period. In both cases the judges were right therefore to conclude that the agreements were exempt. (2) It was perfectily justifiable for the judge to find that it would not be fair to subject the individual claims of the claimants in the test cases to scrutiny. In any event X had accepted that the judge's decision on this point did not mean that in all cases the full amount of its hire charges were recoverable and so no more needed to be decided on this point.Appeals dismissed.
 EWCA Civ 1828