There’s a rather scary story for us journalists coming from the pages of Autocar this morning. A British High Court has ruled that automotive journalist and racecar driver Mark Hales will have to pay £120,000 ($189,348) to repair a Porsche 917 replica that he broke during a test drive.
The 917 replica was more than a shoddy knockoff of the infamous Porsche racecar. It had been built from genuine Porsche parts, and after its repair was subsequently sold for £1.25-million, which is just shy of $2-million.
Hales had been told by the owner of the 917, David Piper, that the engine would need to be kept under 7000 RPM. The two men verbally agreed that, should the Porsche be damaged during the test drive, Hale would need to pay for the repairs.
This case raises a whole host of liability issues for journalists and publications that are often allowed to test-drive rare and exotic cars. Obtaining insurance for these kinds of vehicles is often either impossible or prohibitively expensive for publications or journalists working on a tiny budget.
In the wake of this case, vehicle owners are more likely to seek out damages from journalists, should damage occur.
Perhaps Hales’ mistake and misfortune – which will now cost him a fortune – should be a lesson for us all: If you can’t buy it, perhaps you ought not risk breaking it.
A fund for donations has been set up to help cover Hales’ court-ordered damages.