Victims of Taxi Cab Rapist lose claims

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The first defendant was convicted of a number of offences including administering a substance with intent, and committing various sexual assaults whilst acting as a taxi driver. His victims, the claimants, sued him for assault by poisoning, sexual assault and false imprisonment. However, they also sued the first defendant's insurers, the second defendant pursuant to their liability under Section 151 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The trial was around the preliminary issue of whether the insurers were liable. 
 
One of the questions in this case was whether the assaults had been "caused by" or had arisen out of the use of the car. If they had, then these claims might be covered by Worboys' insurance policy. 
 
Mr Justice Silber referred to the case of Dunthorne v Bentley and Others [1999] Lloyds Rep IR 560 where the words "caused by, or arising out of" had been considered by the Court of Appeal. The principles that emerged from that case were first, that the concept of "arising out of" was a wider concept than "caused by". Secondly, the focus of the inquiry should be to consider whether the injuries of the claimants were matters "arising out of the use of the car" and thirdly, that it was necessary to analyse the activities of the driver whose insurers were being sued to see what he was doing at the time when the injuries were suffered in order to ascertain if they were "arising out of the use of the car."

However, the chain between the first defendant’s use of the taxi and the claimant’s injuries were broken by the first defendant’s acts of poisoning and committing sexual assaults. There was no link between the injuries suffered by the claimants and the use of the taxi on a road, when the claimant were poisoned and assaulted. In Dunthorne, the injuries were caused because the defendant wished to continue her journey by car, but could not do so without crossing the road to get more petrol. In this case, the claimants came by their injuries not because they wished to continue the journey, but because the first defendant wished to poison them and then assault them.  
 
For this reason (and others) the claimants' claims failed.

Malcolm Johnson

Associate- Personal Injury team

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