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Insurers win key aspects of UK pub group's COVID lockdown case

Posted On: Oct. 17, 2022 8:25 AM CST


(Reuters) — Insurers have won key parts of a complex legal battle with British pubs group Stonegate, MS Amlin said after Monday’s judgment on the £1 billion ($1.13 billion) lawsuit against three top insurers over coronavirus-related lockdown losses.

Stonegate sued MS Amlin, Zurich and Liberty Mutual, alleging that government-ordered closures and restrictions relating to the pandemic triggered business interruption cover multiple times and that the interruption and interference would continue until April 2023.

MS Amlin led the Stonegate policy with 55% of exposure. The other insurers had 22.5% each.

“We welcome the judgment of the High Court, and believe this brings some genuine clarity to a very complex business interruption case,” said Johan Slabbert, CEO of MS Amlin Underwriting Ltd.

“This is a positive outcome for us and is of significance to the entire insurance industry ... as issues around furlough payments and aggregation in particular have the potential to have an enormous financial impact for insurers throughout the UK.”

Stonegate will appeal some aspects of the case, a Stonegate spokesperson said in an emailed statement, adding the judgment was “far from conclusive.”

Stonegate lawyers argued at the trial in June that the company's 760 insured pubs, bars and nightclubs at the center of the case had each faced separate challenges, opening and shutting at differing times according to regional rules and seeing business drop by up to 90% below projections.

Insurers accepted Stonegate's businesses were covered by their policies but said cover was limited to one business interruption payment of £2.5 million, which had been paid.