Summary of Recent Cases – Substantive Law


MOTOR INSURER NOT LIABLE FOR SEXUAL ASSAULTS COMMITTED BY THEIR INSURED TAXI DRIVER

In the case of Axn and others v Warboys and another [2012] EWHC 1730 (QB) the Claimants (C) were victims of sexual offences committed by the First Defendant (D1), who was a taxi driver. The Second Defendant (D2) was his insurer. C claimed that D2 was liable for injuries they sustained at the hands of D1 while D1 was driving the taxi insured by D2. C relied upon the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988). This judgment deals with preliminary matters, which boil down to the central question of whether an insurer can be liable for criminal acts of this type committed by their insured.

The Court held that since the injuries resulted not from D1’s use of the cab but rather as part of a deliberate criminal enterprise, they did not ‘arise out of the use of the vehicle on a road or public place’ (see paragraphs [58] and [65] and RTA 1988 s.145(3)(a)). There was not a sufficient causal link between the cause of C’s injuries and D1’s use of the vehicle.

The court was shown instances where insurers have been liable for the use by their insureds of the insured vehicle as a weapon (Hardy v Motor Insurers’ Bureau [1964] 2 QB 745, Gardner v Moore and anor. [1984] 1 AC 548 and Bristol Alliance Limited Partnership v Williams [2011] EWHC 1656 (QB)). However, the court distinguished these cases on the basis that they involved the use of the insured car with the clear intention of causing damage (see paragraphs [80] to [82]). Further, D1’s criminal acts did not constitute ‘accidents’ within the meaning of the policy of insurance (see paragraph [83]).

The court also held that the use of the vehicle by D1 at the material time was outside the use permitted by his policy of insurance (see paragraphs [106] to [108]).

July 16, 2012 В· Editorial Team В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases