News

February 20, 2020

Ciara, Dennis and Ellen – an ABC (and CDE) of BI Claims

As storms Ciara, Dennis and now Ellen batter extended parts of the UK, with some areas suffering the worst floods in 200 years, insured losses have already been estimated at £200M and will continue to rise.  For individuals whose homes are damaged the effects can be devastating, but effectively addressed by adequate property insurance.  Businesses may face more complex insurance issues in order to recover losses arising not just from damage to property and machinery, but to the business itself, whose turnover and profits may be reduced or even eliminated in the immediate aftermath of a flood or other severe weather event.  Whilst revenue may take an immediate hit, wages and other overheads must continue to be paid, and in the absence of timely and sufficient financial support, the business’s ability to continue trading may be threatened.

Business interruption cover is therefore an essential component of any business’s property insurance programme. But claims for loss of profit, which must be calculated on a hypothetical basis with many variables, are inevitably complex and drawn out, making Business Interruption claims fertile ground for disputes.

What issues do businesses and their brokers need to consider in order to make sure they are adequately covered and their claims are paid in full?

Wide Area Damage

The notorious issue of wide area damage, following the decision in Orient Express Hotels Ltd v Assicurazioni Generali SPA is a recurrent headache for any insured bringing a BI claim following a catastrophic weather event, and particularly affects those operating in the hospitality industry or other sectors relying on customer footfall. We have previously discussed the merits of the Orient Express case as part of our series “The Good the Bad & the Ugly: 100 cases every policyholder needs to know”  but in summary, the claim was brought by a hotel in New Orleans, which suffered significant damage from Hurricane Katrina, leading to its closure for a period of two months. The surrounding area was also devastated by the storms, with the entire city shut down for several weeks.  The court found that the hotel was prevented from recovering its business interruption losses on the basis that they were not caused not just by the damage to property, but by the damage to the wider area.  Even if the hotel had not been damaged, it would have suffered the same loss of profits since New Orleans was effectively closed for several weeks due to widespread flooding.

In our view the approach taken in the Orient Express case is wrong in principle, and represents an unmerited windfall to insurers in catastrophic event circumstances:  the more severe the event, the less insurers pay.  However, until challenged in the higher courts, it remain a potential trap that must be addressed.  Insureds and their brokers should therefore ensure that they have a clear understanding of how any business interruption coverage will respond in the event of a catastrophic weather event that will affect not just the insured property, but the area at large. It is important to ensure that the insuring and trends clauses are drafted as broadly as possible, so as to respond to losses caused by an insured peril, not just those arising directly from damage to insured property. Where possible, Denial of Access, Suppliers and Customers, and Utilities extensions (also known as contingent business interruption cover) should be incorporated – without sublimit – to ensure that loss of profits remains insured even where the business itself suffers no damage to property.

Underinsurance

An apparently straightforward issue, but one that leads to significant reduction of BI recovery perhaps more than any other, is underinsurance.  Reaching the correct value for the sum insured is not a straightforward matter, and is often misunderstood.  For example, Business Interruption losses are often insured on a Gross Profit basis, but care needs to be taken to ensure that the Gross Profit declared to insurers is calculated according to the gross profit definition in the policy wording, which is likely to differ significantly from the method of calculation used by businesses in their internal or published accounts. In particular, wages are not normally included in an accountant’s gross profit figure, but should be included in the insurable Gross Grofit. However not all cover is written on a Gross Profit basis, and alternative specifications (methods of calculation) include Turnover, Gross Revenue, and Increased Costs of Working.  Each of these specification categories appears in many varieties with subtle differences.  A detailed understanding of the cover provided by the insuring clause and specification is therefore vital in order to calculate the correct sum insured, and the advice of insurance brokers in making sure that cover is tailor-made to the business is crucial.

Indemnity Period

Underinsurance in BI claims can arise not just from an inadequate sum insured, but from selecting an insufficient indemnity period.  Businesses must ensure that they insure for an indemnity period that is long enough for the business to recover in catastrophic circumstances.  This will depend on the nature of the business of the question, but will often extend beyond the standard 12-month indemnity period. Likewise, the insured should be aware that any specified waiting period i.e. the period immediately following the insured event, will act as a deductible and remain uninsured.

Delays in Payment

When a business suffers business interruption losses from a catastrophic weather event, time is of the essence in seeking insurers’ immediate engagement with the adjustment of the claim.  Whilst complex business interruption claims may take many months or even years to crystallise, it is critical that interim payments are sought from insurers at the earliest stage.  Without financial support at the time when they most need it, many businesses will struggle to recover.  Additional losses suffered as a result of late payment may now form the basis of a damages claim under the Enterprise Act 2015.  If the business is likely to suffer further loss if insurance proceeds are delayed (whether that be because the business is forced to borrow at high interest rates, or loss of growth or investment opportunity) brokers and insured should ensure that insurers are aware of this as soon as possible in the claims process.  It may affect the behaviour of insurers who wish to avoid potential liability for damages in excess of policy exposure.

Whilst businesses might feel confident that they are fully covered for any BI losses suffered as a result of increasingly frequent flooding and other extreme weather events, there is a complex matrix of issues affecting the recoverability and valuation of losses under the policy, and careful attention needs to be paid to these potential pitfalls by businesses and their brokers both at the time of seeking cover and in the preparation of any claim.

Aaron Le Marquer is a partner at Fenchurch Law, a leading insurance law firm acting exclusively for policyholders against insurers.  He practiced for eight years in Southeast Asia, where he acted on many contested BI claims arising out of the 2011 catastrophic Thai floods, with total value over $700m.

February 18, 2020

Fenchurch Law expands property coverage disputes team

Fenchurch Law, the leading UK firm working exclusively for policyholders and brokers on complex insurance disputes, has appointed Nicola Bowen as an associate in its Property Risks practice group.

Nicola has spent a number of years working in insurance litigation with a specific focus on property related matters. She has acted for leading insurers on first party and liability claims disputes and complex defendant matters. She has also acted jointly for insurers and their insureds in a number of large subrogated recovery actions.

Nicola joins Fenchurch Law from BLM, where she was a solicitor in their property damage team and was previously a property damage solicitor with DAC Beachcroft.

Joanna Grant, partner and head of the Property Risks group practice at Fenchurch Law, said: We are delighted to welcome Nicola whose  dedicated property damage litigation experience expands the coverage disputes capabilities the team can offer our clients.

Nicola Bowen is an associate at Fenchurch Law

February 5, 2020

Fenchurch Law celebrates a hat-trick!

Fenchurch Law, the leading UK firm working exclusively for policyholders and brokers on complex insurance disputes has received its third consecutive ‘gold’ award from customer experience experts, Investor in Customers (IIC).

There were many complimentary comments from their happy clients, some of which included:

• “Fenchurch provide myself, my team and my clients with an excellent service and give an honest and balanced response. I rate them as the best in the business.”

• “Service focused, excellent knowledge, great at communicating sometimes difficult points.”

• “I believe the firm offers a unique service in this market and hence is vital to a number of clients.”

• “The service we receive from Fenchurch Law is second to none so we would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending them to any client – in fact we actively do recommend them.”

• “They offer offer a service that is quick, personable and professional. I would add that they know my industry back to front.”

IIC is an independent assessment organisation that conducts rigorous benchmarking exercises. These exercises determine the quality of client service and relationships across several dimensions, including how well a company understands its clients, how it meets their needs and how it engenders loyalty. IIC also compares the internal views of staff to identify how embedded the client is within the company’s thinking.

Sandy Bryson, Director at Investor in Customers commented: “I am absolutely delighted for the whole Fenchurch Law team. They are rightly thrilled and proud to have achieved a third consecutive IIC Gold award, evidencing that they continue to provide their clients with an exceptional experience. The firm clearly cares deeply about its clients and its employees. The Fenchurch Law management team has embedded a culture of continuous improvement within the firm and they are passionate about making the marginal improvements identified within the IIC report to improve further still. They are a genuine pleasure to work with.”

David Pryce, Managing Partner of Fenchurch Law added: “Providing an exceptional level of client service is something that the whole team at Fenchurch Law cares deeply about. But we know we can always do better, and Investor in Customers give us the insights and the tools to help us keep improving our clients’ experience”.

January 8, 2020

Fenchurch Law expands coverage dispute team with Le Marquer appointment

Fenchurch Law, the leading UK firm working exclusively for policyholders and brokers on complex insurance disputes, has appointed Aaron Le Marquer as partner expanding its capabilities and international expertise.

Aaron specialises in insurance disputes for policyholders with a focus on product liability and recall and complex international losses. His experience extends to all commercial lines of business and he has handled many significant London market losses and represented manufacturers and insurers in high-profile cases in the tobacco, automotive, consumer electronics, pharmaceutical, and medical device sectors.

He joins Fenchurch Law from Tilleke & Gibbins, a leading Southeast Asian regional law firm, where he established a leading insurance practice and subsequently became a partner based in Thailand. Previously, he was assistant general counsel for Asia Pacific with AIG in Singapore. He originally trained and practised as an insurance and product liability lawyer with City and US firms based in London.

Managing Partner of Fenchurch Law, David Pryce said: “The start of 2020 marks a period of growth in our capabilities. Aaron is recognised for his insurance disputes work in Asia and now brings this substantial experience acting for policyholders and brokers on large scale and complex claims disputes together with strong insurance industry expertise and multi-jurisdictional experience. There is no doubt both Fenchurch Law and our clients will benefit significantly from his appointment. We will be making further announcements about the expansion of our team in the coming weeks.”

January 7, 2020

Unoccupied Buildings conditions – a trap for the unwary

Properties become unoccupied in a number of different scenarios. In a residential context, this might be because the home is not the policyholder’s main residence, or because the policyholder is going on an extended holiday. Similarly, for buy-to-let landlords, a property may become unoccupied for lengthy periods between tenancies.

This short article will explore the requirements that insurers impose where a property is left unoccupied, and how those requirements have been interpreted by the courts.

Home insurance

Standard home insurance policies exclude claims where properties are left unoccupied for extended periods. The rationale is simple: an unoccupied home represents a greater risk as it is more likely to attract thieves, vandals or squatters. Equally, there is a greater chance of structural damage in an unoccupied home because no one is available to deal with, say, a burst pipe or a fire. For those reasons, home insurance policies usually require policyholders to tell their insurers if the property is/becomes unoccupied.

“Unoccupied” is typically defined as: “not being lived in.” The case law suggests that this means actual use as a dwelling. So, in Simmonds v Cockell [1920] 1K.B. 843, a warranty requiring a property to always be occupied did not mean that there would always be someone present, but rather that it would be used as a dwelling house.

Most policies say that the cover will cease if the property is not being lived in “for more than [30] consecutive days” (although the precise number of days will vary from policy to policy). As long as the property is regularly being occupied, temporary unoccupancy will not invalidate the cover. Therefore, in the case of Winicofsky v Army & Navy General Assurance [1919], a condition requiring premises to remain “occupied” was not breached where the policyholder sought temporary refuge in a shelter during an air raid.

Once an insurer is told that a property is unoccupied, it will, if the change is accepted, be entitled to vary the premium and terms, and may raise a small administration charge for the variation. If the change is not accepted, the policyholder will need to arrange specialist unoccupied property insurance.

Commercial insurance

In commercial insurance, unoccupied buildings conditions take on a different character. Commercial policies usually impose a number of obligations, some of which may be quite onerous, which must be complied with if cover is to remain in force despite the property becoming unoccupied.

For example, landlords may be required to ensure that an unoccupied property, or a part of it, is inspected once a week (often with a requirement that a record of the inspection is kept), secured against illegal entry, kept free of combustible material, and disconnected from any mains services. The consequence of a failure to comply with the condition depends on whether it is expressed as a condition precedent to the insurer’s liability. If it is, the condition must be complied with absolutely, and any breach will entitle the insurer to deny liability for the claim. If it is not, the position will turn on whether the insurer has suffered prejudice.

A common scenario is that a property becomes unoccupied without the policyholder’s knowledge. This might occur in a landlord’s policy, where, say, a tenant vacates the property without giving notice. Commercial policies usually cater to that scenario by including “non-invalidation clauses”. These are terms which provide that cover will not be invalidated in the event of any act, omission or alteration which is either unknown to the policyholder or beyond its control. To gain the benefit of those clauses, the policyholder will be required to notify its insurer immediately of the act, omission or alteration.

Application of Section 11 of the Insurance Act

Section 11 of the Insurance Act is intended to prevent an insurer from disputing a claim for non-compliance with a term which is unconnected to the actual loss. The Law Commission has said that a causation test is not required; rather, the test is simply whether there is a possibility that the non-compliance could have increased the risk of loss.

Since Section 11 is capable of applying to Unoccupied Buildings conditions, how might it apply in this context?

Let us suppose that a landlord owns a property which has two floors, and the upper floor is unoccupied. A fire then starts on the ground floor, which spreads to the upper floor. Insurers then discover that the landlord breached the Unoccupied Buildings condition by failing to keep the building free of combustible materials, and refuse to pay the claim. There are not yet any authorities on the meaning and application of Section 11.

On an orthodox interpretation of section 11, it would not be open to the policyholder to argue the upper floor would have caught fire in any event, even if the condition had been complied with. However, on a non-orthodox interpretation, section 11 should arguably come to the policyholder’s rescue: the fire started on the ground floor, which was occupied, and compliance with the condition would not have made a difference to the loss.

Conclusion

Almost all property owners, whether acting as private homeowners or in a commercial context, will need to consider the implications of unoccupied buildings conditions at some point.

We would recommend that policyholders check the fine print of their policies in order to understand (a) when they need to notify their insurers if a property becomes unoccupied; and (b) the steps which need to be taken in order to comply with Unoccupied Buildings conditions. A failure to do so may be the difference between an insurer paying, or refusing to pay, a claim.

Alex Rosenfield is a Senior Associate at Fenchurch Law

December 19, 2019

Appeal Courts Triumph for Structural Defects Policyholders: Manchikalapati v Zurich

Leaseholders of flats in a development in Manchester have secured a major victory against Zurich Insurance under a standard form defects policy, in a case with significant implications for new build home owners affected by inadequate construction works. Following a long running Court battle over claims first notified in 2013, policyholders have been awarded approximately £11 million to rectify failures by the insolvent developer to comply with technical requirements and building regulations.

Residents moved into New Lawrence House from 2009 but were forced to leave following a prohibition notice issued shortly after the Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017, in view of structural deficiencies including missing lifts and balconies, a collapsing roof deck and complete lack of fire stopping measures. The Court of Appeal judgment handed down last week essentially upheld the decision of HHJ Davies, requiring Zurich – through run-off insurers East West – to pay out under the Standard 10 New Home Structural Defects Insurance Policy (the Policy), aside from overturning the maximum liability cap of around £3.6 million applied below.

The development contains 104 flats and the Claimants between them own only 30, with many others left empty. The Policy limited Zurich’s liability for new homes forming part of a continuous structure by reference to “the purchase price declared to Us”, which had been construed as restricting the Claimants’ recovery to the combined sums paid for their own flats. The Court of Appeal disagreed and recalculated the cap based on the total purchase price of all flats in the block, since the Policy enabled a single leaseholder to recover the entire cost of rectifying a danger to the health and safety of occupants and the previous approach would prevent them from doing so. The Policy wording was ambiguous and should be construed “in a manner which is consistent with, not repugnant to, the purpose of the insurance contract”.

Zurich advanced a number of grounds of appeal relating to interpretation of the Policy, all of which were rejected. Lord Justice Coulson found that:

“what [Zurich] suggest as the proper interpretation of the words used in their own policy is, on analysis, nothing of the kind, and is instead a strained and artificial construction (often requiring the interpolation of words not present) with the result that it becomes impossible to see any circumstances in which [Zurich] would ever pay out under the terms of the policy.”

In particular, the Court of Appeal decided:

1. It is not necessary for the costs of rectification work to have been incurred before a claim can be made under the Policy – otherwise insurers could take advantage of leaseholders’ impecuniosity to avoid liability altogether;

2. The fact that funds recovered would in part be used to pay the Claimants’ lawyers and funders was irrelevant. An insured can apply the insurance proceeds as they wish and it would be unjust to hold otherwise, penalising the Claimants merely because they do not have pockets as deep as Zurich’s. The legal and funding costs would never have been incurred had Zurich acknowledged their proper liabilities at the outset;

3. The Policy does not require the insured to sue any third parties against whom the insured might have a possible claim before pursuing Zurich under the Policy;

4. The underground car park and balconies at the development fall within the scope of cover;

5. The condensation exclusion in the Policy does not apply where the condensation which causes damage is caused by a defect. The proximate cause of damage is the defect, not condensation.

6. The trial judge’s application of Policy excess provisions could not be challenged on appeal.

New build developments are usually constructed by single-purpose corporate entities with limited assets, and purchasers of defective properties have restricted rights of recourse against those responsible for the construction or building control approval process in the absence of contractual claims under collateral warranties (Murphy v Brentwood DC [1991] 1 A.C. 398, Herons Court v Heronslea Ltd [2019] EWCA Civ 1423). The decision in this case is an important step forward in protecting the interests of new build home owners, in light of wider concerns about regulatory oversight and industry standards under contractor-led procurement methods.

The Zurich Policy was a standard wording indirectly descended from the original NHBC scheme and widely used across the country at the relevant time, with the intention of providing peace of mind for the purchasers and mortgagees of new build properties. The policyholder-friendly interpretation upheld by the Court of Appeal serves as a welcome reminder of this commercial context, limiting the extent to which insurers can seek to rely upon unrealistic arguments to avoid liability or delay payment for outstanding claims. Home owners with the benefit of structural defects policies should notify potential claims as soon as possible, to maximise the prospects of effective recoveries.

Manchikalapati & others v Zurich Insurance plc & others [2019] EWCA Civ 2163

https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/2163.html&query=(MANCHIKALAPATI)

https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-12-05/legal-victory-for-residents-of-unsafe-tower-block-in-manchester/

Amy Lacey is a partner at Fenchurch Law

November 27, 2019

Consumer Insurance – A reminder of your rights and why you should not “avoid” fighting back

Consumer insurance accounts for a large percentage of insurance purchased in the United Kingdom. It is therefore unsurprising that many insurance disputes involve consumers, and the implications for an individual who has a claim declined can be catastrophic.

A recurring issue is an insurer avoiding a policy for an alleged non-disclosure or misrepresentation. Our experience is that, in a worryingly large number of cases, insurers appear to rely on a consumer’s lack of knowledge and resources to properly challenge the avoidance. In other words, Insurers raise with a consumer what appears to be an unanswerable case and present a declinature/avoidance as a fait acompli. However, in reality, the matter is very rarely as clear cut as the Insurer seeks to present.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (which is available to all consumers) has recently increased the size of the awards it can make from £150,000 to £350,000. It is, therefore, now even more important for consumers to be familiar with their obligations and rights in relation to their insurance policies given the wider scope of cost-free redress.

The Law

The Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representation) Act 2012 (CIDRA) came into force on 6 April 2013, and applies to all insurance policies which began or were renewed after that date. CIDRA applies to all types of insurance where the policyholder is acting in a personal (as opposed to commercial) capacity.

CIDRA governs the duties of consumers prior to inception of an insurance policy. It was introduced to address the vulnerability of consumers based on outdated law which imposed an unfair disclosure burden on them.

While CIDRA has been in force for a number of years, the more recent Insurance Act 2015 (“the Insurance Act”) has increased awareness both within and outside of the insurance market of the obligations of policyholders before entering into an insurance policy. As a result, CIDRA and the Insurance Act are often confused (by both policyholders and insurers). While there are similarities between them, particularly in relation to the remedies available to an insurer for non-disclosure disclosure, it is important for consumers to have an understanding of CIDRA because it is even more favourable to them than the Insurance Act.

CIDRA: Duty of Disclosure

Prior to CIDRA, if a consumer had either given incorrect information or failed to disclose something important to an insurer when applying for insurance, the insurer could “avoid” the policy (effectively cancelling the policy and treating it as if it had never existed). A heavy burden rested on the consumer (who had a duty of “utmost good faith” towards the Insurer) to disclose to an insurer all material facts. This duty was particularly onerous for unadvised individuals who purchased insurance directly from an insurer or through, for example, price comparison websites without the assistance of a broker.

CIDRA replaced this onerous burden with a new “duty to take reasonable care not to make a misrepresentation”. The effect was that a consumer was no longer obliged to volunteer information to an insurer, but rather to take care not to answer any of the insurer’s questions incorrectly.
The bottom line for individuals who have had a claim declined is that it is not enough for an insurer to establish that an incorrect answer was given to it when the policy was simplywritten – under CIDRA, that is only the first hurdle the insurer needs to overcome.

The insurer must also prove that the consumer failed to take “reasonable care” when making the misrepresentation and that, if the correct information had been given, the insurer would either not have written the policy on any terms at all, or would have written it on different terms or with a different premium. A misrepresentation which would have caused the insurer to act differently is referred to in CIDRA as a “qualifying misrepresentation”.
Alternatively, In order to avoid the policy and retain the premium, the insurer will need to show that the consumer acted deliberately or dishonestly in making a misrepresentation.

If the insurer cannot show that, but can show that there was a qualifying misrepresentation, the insurer will be entitled to a proportionate remedy. If it can show that it would not have written the policy at all, it can avoid the policy but must return the premium. If it would have written the policy on different terms, the policy may be amended to reflect those terms. If it would have charged a higher premium, the insurer is entitled to proportionately reduce the amount it pays on a claim by reference to any such hypothetical premium.

The bottom line for consumers

The overarching point for consumers to remember is that the burden is on the insurer to prove:

1. The consumer failed to take “reasonable care” not to make a misrepresentation;

2. If he/she did, that the misrepresentation is a “qualifying misrepresentation”; and

3. That the Insurer is entitled to the appropriate remedy.

Given the heavy burden on the insurer under CIDRA, consumers faced with the avoidance of their policies should not avoid fighting back, particularly now that the Financial Ombudsman Service has a much wider remit to consider larger disputes. In fighting back, and availing themselves of the Ombudsman’s enlarged jurisdiction, consumers may find that an insurer’s confidence in its position is, when properly scrutinised, rather misplaced.

Daniel Robin is an associate at Fenchurch Law

November 11, 2019

Government to fund replacement of Grenfell-style cladding

Almost 2 years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government has stepped in to speed up the removal and replacement of unsafe aluminium composite material cladding (“ACM cladding”) on privately owned, high-rise buildings. What are the implications for building owners?

On 9 May, the government announced its intention to make around £200m available to remove and replace ACM cladding from approximately 170 privately owned, high-rise buildings. The decision was driven by the slow pace by building owners to replace ACM cladding on their buildings, and the government’s view that ACM cladding represents an unparalleled fire risk.

Guidance on the Fund was published on 18 July. There are three eligibility criteria:

1. The Fund is available for the benefit of leaseholders in residential buildings over 18m in height;
2. Applicants will need to confirm that they are replacing cladding with materials of limited combustibility.
3. The government expects owners to actively pursue “all reasonable claims” against those involved in the original cladding installations, and to pursue warranty claims “where possible”.

Applications to the Fund can only be made by the “responsible entity”. This will usually be the building owner, head leaseholder, or Management Company with responsibility for the repair of the property. If a responsible entity does not apply or refuses to apply to the Fund, the Guidance states that local authorities and fire and rescue services are likely to take enforcement action under the Housing Act 2004.

What is a warranty claim?

Warranty claims refer to claims made under latent defect insurance policies. Those policies provide cover for newly built properties in the event of an inherent defect which was not capable of being discovered through inspection before completion.

Typically, latent defect policies are triggered in the event of (a) a non-compliance with the relevant Building Regulations which applied at the time of construction/conversion; and (b) which causes a present or imminent danger.

Unsafe ACM cladding which has been installed in high-rise residential blocks will meet those requirements.

What other claims might be available against those involved with the original cladding installations?

Those involved with the original cladding installations are likely to include Main Contractors, Architects, and specialist cladding subcontractors. The type of claims that can be brought against them will differ in each case, and will depend upon the nature of the relationships between the parties, and the specific work which was undertaken.

One route to making a recovery against those involved with the original cladding installation is under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

The Defective Premises Act imposes a duty on builders and any other professionals who take on work in connection with the provision of a dwelling. It requires the work to be done in a professional or workmanlike manner, with proper materials, and that the dwelling is for habitation when completed. The duty is owed to every person who acquires a legal or equitable interest in the dwelling.

Summary

The message from the government is clear. Responsible entities that are eligible to apply to the Fund must do so at the earliest possible juncture, and must pursue claims available under latent defect insurance policies as a pre-requisite to any funding.

The Guidance does not explain what a “reasonable claim” against those involved with a building’s original construction/conversion would look like, and this is likely to be assessed on a case by case basis.

Our recommendation is that building owners investigate the roles played by those parties, and the availability of any claims against them. Even where a party is no longer in business, there may be insurance cover that would still respond.

Alex Rosenfield is an associate at Fenchurch law

October 11, 2019

Fenchurch Law launches “The Associate Series”

Fenchurch Law’s new initiative, The Associate Series, is being launched with a view to sharing our knowledge and experience of coverage disputes with junior-mid level brokers. In doing so, we hope to enhance brokers’ ability to add value to their portfolios.

Fenchurch Law are specialists in coverage disputes. We act exclusively for policyholders and work shoulder-to-shoulder with (and never against) brokers.

The associates, whose specialisms span across a number of classes of insurance, are now sharing their expertise to assist junior-mid level brokers and claims handlers in their own careers. The associates are well-placed to do so as coverage specialists with prior experience as either brokers or insurer-side lawyers.

The Associate Series will enable us to share our knowledge and encourage you to cultivate relationships. Talks are being delivered to brokers across the UK between now and Christmas, with more seminars being planned for 2020.

The (free!) talks will be no more than 30 minutes each and focus on practical issues affecting the junior-mid tier. The fact that the talks are being delivered by your peers will, it is hoped, allow for relaxed interactive sessions.

The menu of talks will be regularly updated to reflect market developments but retain some core topics. The current menu is:

  • Notification
  • Coverage Disputes 101
  • Damages for late payment
  • A claims handler, broker and lawyer’s perspective
  • Property Risks
  • Third Party Rights against Insurers
  • D&O
  • Combustible cladding
  • Contractors and traps for their brokers

Some of these talks will also be the subject of webinars, and there will be regular blogs looking at issues and trends in the market. Keep an eye out for our events and material!

If you have any queries about The Associate Series please contact James Breese on 020 3058 3075 or via james.breese@fenchurchlaw.co.uk.

September 19, 2019

Fenchurch Law adds Goodship to Construction Risks team

Fenchurch Law, the leading UK firm working exclusively for policyholders and brokers on complex insurance disputes, has appointed Rob Goodship as an associate further expanding its coverage dispute team capabilities.

Rob specialises in insurance disputes and has considerable experience in property damage, construction and professional indemnity coverage issues. He joins Fenchurch Law from Kennedys where he was an associate in their property, energy and construction team.

He has acted for several leading insurers in relation to coverage disputes across a broad range of first party and liability claims, as well as defending claims against professionals. He has also acted jointly for insurers and their insureds in a number of large subrogated recovery actions.

Managing Partner of Fenchurch Law, David Pryce said: “Rob is an experienced insurance litigator and his background in advising both insurers and insureds in coverage disputes in some of our core business areas, makes him an important addition to what is the UK’s largest team of policyholder–focused insurance disputes solicitors”.

Rob Goodship is an associate at Fenchurch Law