E-Scooters – Do you know the law?

Kelly Richardson

Chartered Legal Executive

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July 26, 2021

Categories Personal Injury Claims

Most privately owned Electric Scooters or ‘E-Scooters’ are illegal to ride in the UK except on private land, despite their popularity.  It is therefore surprising that it is an everyday sight to see E-Scooters on the roads and pavements.

Accidents both minor and serious involving E-Scooters are unfortunately all too common and are on the rise. Tragically, we are aware of at least 4 deaths, and it was reported recently that a toddler suffered ‘life changing’ injuries after being hit by an E-Scooter whilst in a park in London.


As far as enforcement goes, a person illegally riding an E-Scooter could face a Fixed Penalty Notice for no insurance, with £300 fine and 6 penalty points. Or, in the case where the rider doesn’t have a driving licence a Fixed Penalty Notice for no driving licence, up to £100 fine and 3 to 6 penalty points could be given.

Police will also take action against rider behaviour, whether the E-Scooter is a private one or one rented through a scheme. Offences could include a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice for riding on the footway and £100 fine and 6 penalty points for using a mobile phone.

So what can you do to claim compensation if an E-Scooter rider causes you injury?

The first thing you must do is get the riders full name and contact details, as these vehicles don’t carry number plates, making the at fault rider very difficult to trace after the event.

Two wheeled E-Scooters fit the definition of a motorcycle meaning that a helmet, licence and compulsory basic motorcycle training (CBT) are required. These barriers make it almost impossible for E-scooters to be driven legally on the road and there are no circumstances of which we are aware under which they are legal to ride on a public pavement.

Government backed trial schemes

However there are currently government back trial schemes in several cities across the UK (including Canterbury) allowing E-Scooters on designated public roads when they have been rented through a licenced hire scheme. These rental E-Scooters are speed restricted to 15.5mph and can be used on roads that allow cyclists. You must be aged 16 or over and hold a category Q driving licence. The rental company must ensure there is an insurance policy in place that covers the users of the vehicles. So in any of these trial areas you may be able to get compensation from the insurer.

Outside trial schemes

Outside of these trial schemes, and assuming that the E-Scooter rider hasn’t voluntarily arranged insurance cover, if a rider of a privately owned E-Scooter causes an accident then liability to pay the victim damages falls to the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) who provide compensation for victims of road traffic accidents from uninsured drivers.

If you suffer injuries whilst riding a privately owned E-Scooter, even if the accident wasn’t your fault you will be vulnerable to an ‘ex turpi causa‘ defence to any damages claim you try to bring.

The general rule is that a Claimant will be unable to benefit through the Courts should it arise from their own illegal act. So an insurer could refuse compensation as the rider would have been committing a criminal act by riding the scooter. But an ex turpi causa defence is difficult to establish and a Court might instead find that by acting illegally the Claimant was ‘contributorily negligent’ for the accident and therefore award some, but reduced compensation.

If you have been in an accident involving an E-Scooter, contact Kelly Richardson or a member of our Personal injury team for a free consultation on 01227 763939 to see if we can help you get the compensation you deserve.


Notes to editors

Image of e-scooter: Care of KM Online and Bird, illustrating electric scooters that are available for hire in Canterbury as part of a government-backed trial

Further stories about Bird’s e-scooter trial in Canterbury, Kent:



Government website information about e-scooters: