Hospitality groups, including the owner of London’s Wolseley restaurant and Slug and Lettuce chain, are set to bring lawsuits to Axa insurance over Covid-related losses, in a trial that could have wider ramifications for other UK businesses with similar policies, according to reports.
The case will be heard in High Court in January, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the news.
Corbin & King will go head to head with the UK arm of Axa after the French insurer blocked the hospitality groups’ business interruption insurance claim.
The case will explore the extent of ‘denial of access’ cover, which provides compensation for businesses whose venues have been closed by a statutory body because of local danger, and if it should have been paid out to companies who were forced to shut because of the pandemic and lockdowns.
The outcome of the court case is important because similar policies are held by companies across the country, Roger Franklin, the head of insurance litigation at law firm Edwin Coe, which is representing Corbin & King, told the Financial Times.
In August the amount insurers paid out in claims to businesses that were forced shut during nationwide lockdowns hit £1bn according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The payouts followed a Supreme Court ruling in favour of policyholders in a test case on cover for business interruption which found that insurers were liable in most cases, especially when a policy offered cover for closure as a result of an outbreak of infectious disease – but it did not cover every type of insurance policy wording leading to a host of legal claims being made since.
The news comes just a week after research showed nearly six in ten small business across the UK rely on credit to pay for their insurance, borrowing on average around £1,832.