Sex attack victims take injury claims to High Court

26 Apr 2012

Sex attack victims of a London taxi driver have begun a High Court bid for damages against him and the insurers of his vehicle.

Eight women are asking a judge to rule in a unique action relating to the liability of motor insurers for the personal injuries they sustained.

John Worboys, 54, was convicted in 2009 of drugging and sexually assaulting women while working as a licensed London taxi driver. He was jailed indefinitely.

The case will consider the issue of whether motor insurers are liable to pay damages because Worboys' crimes were committed in his insured taxi.

Edwin Glasgow QC, for the women, told the judge: "The fundamental issue in these cases is whether personal injuries caused by a taxi driver's assaults on a passenger, during the course of a journey, were 'caused by or arose out of the use of a vehicle on a road' for the purposes of compulsory insurance as required by the Road Traffic Act 1988."

Mr Glasgow said the key to resolving that issue was "the role that the taxi and the taxi driver played in the events which occurred". He added: "It is our submission that the use of the taxi and the part that it played in the attacks that occurred during the course of the journeys was essential and material."

"The taxi did not just happen to be at the place where the assaults occurred. It was the symbol of security which seduced these young women to believe they were safe. The taxi became the place where the women were "falsely imprisoned", where Worboys made up his mind he was going to attack them, where they were poisoned – and it "provided the means" by which the attacks could take place”.

Worboys used his taxi as a "lure" to unsuspecting young women who were tricked into believing their safety was ensured by two things – the black cab and the licensed driver.

Mr Glasgow said the "representative" claimants were "only eight of the many passengers of this man who became notoriously known as the black-cab rapist".

The case is being contested by Worboys' insurers, who have been granted anonymity. The hearing continues.

Rhiannon Daniel, solicitor in Trethowans’ personal injury team commented: “Compensation  for injuries arising from a serious assault are usually claimed from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.  This case is interesting as it potentially allows another route for a victim to claim. It will be interesting to see whether motor insurers are held liable for assaults that occur in taxis on the road”.