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Government extends support to stop business evictions in 2020

17 September 2020

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, announced yesterday, 16 September, that all commercial tenants will be protected from the risk of eviction until the end of this year. Read More...

Evictions post 20 September 2020

17 September 2020

The UK Government has published an updated form relating to property possession claims brought before 3 August 2020 that must be reactivated. These relate to claims already received by the court. Read More...

Mayor of London calls for a two-year freeze on private rents

16 September 2020

Today, 16 September, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, calling the Government to give him the powers to freeze private rents as the economic fallout from COVID-19 continues. Read More...

High Court rules in favour of agents over Business Interruption Insurance

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Thousands of companies disputing their insurers' interpretations of liability under Business Interruption Insurance welcome the court ruling today, 15 September, where it found in favour of the arguments advanced for policyholders on the majority of issues brought by the Financial Complaints Authority (FCA) test case.

The FCA argued that the pandemic and its consequences, including lockdown, should be treated as a single cause of the lost income. The case opposed eight insurance companies, with a likely effect on claims by some 350,000 small and medium-sized firms, including estate and lettings agencies.

The judgment and beyond

Whilst complex and running over 150 pages, the judgment deals with many issues, a summary of which can be found here. In order to establish liability under the sample of policy wordings, the FCA argued for policyholders that the ‘disease’ and/or ‘denial of access’ clauses provide cover in the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the trigger for cover caused policyholders’ losses.

The judgment said that most, but not all, of the disease clauses in the sample provide cover. Additionally, certain denial of access clauses in the sample provide cover, but this depends on the detailed wording of the clause and how the business was affected by the Government’s response to the pandemic, for example, whether the business was subject to a mandatory closure order and whether the business was ordered to close completely.

Most insurers claim such policies do not cover closures forced by pandemics and could lodge an appeal, asserting the pandemic and its fallout had to be separated into components, with some not triggering payouts.

FCA announcement

Quote mark

Coronavirus is causing substantial loss and distress to businesses and many are under immense financial strain to stay afloat. Our aim throughout this court action has been to get clarity for as wide a range of parties as possible, as quickly as possible and today’s judgment removes a large number of those roadblocks to successful claims, as well as clarifying those that may not be successful.

Insurers should reflect on the clarity provided here and, irrespective of any possible appeals, consider the steps they can take now to progress claims of the type that the judgment says should be paid. They should also communicate directly and quickly with policyholders who have made claims affected by the judgment to explain the next steps.

Christopher Woolard, FCA Interim Chief Executive