Andrew Bartlett QC and Isabel Hitching obtain landmark decision on scope of compulsory motor insurance regime

AXN v Worboys [2012] EWHC 1730 (QB)

Andrew Bartlett QC and Isabel Hitching successfully represented motor insurers who contested liability to pay out the victims of the 'black cab rapist' under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Victims of John Worboys, the taxi driver who assaulted female passengers in his cab, argued that their injuries arose out of his use of the taxi, so as to make his motor insurers liable under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to meet any judgments against him.  After extensive consideration of both English and Commonwealth authorities, the High Court ruled on 25 June 2012 that despite every sympathy with the claimants their claim failed because their injuries arose out of Worboys' deliberate assaults and not out of his use of the cab.

Silber J held that there was not a sufficient causative link between the use of the taxi and the infliction of the injuries.  The injuries were inflicted as part of a deliberate criminal enterprise separate from his use of the taxi for its ordinary purposes.  Injuries caused by such an enterprise did not fall to be compensated under the compulsory insurance regime.  Nor did such acts constitute an accident for the purposes of the policy.  Further, given the essential purpose of the journey from Worboys’ point of view, the journey fell outside the permitted use. 

Andrew Bartlett QC and Isabel Hitching were instructed on behalf of insurers by Andrew Parker and Paula Jefferson of DAC Beachcroft LLP.

Click here for the judgment.

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