20 May 2020
Mishcon Focuses HIGA Group Litigation On Two Insurers – QBE and Aviva – and invites all hospitality industry businesses with relevant policies to join intended group action by Friday 5 June 2020.
HIGA – the hospitality sector-wide action group today announces that its legal advisors, Mishcon de Reya, in conjunction with Leading Counsel, Philip Edey QC, of Twenty Essex Chambers, have completed their comprehensive review of over 500 business interruption insurance policies, submitted by applicants between 29 April and 6 May 2020.
The legal team has now determined that the specific coverage clauses within policies underwritten by Aviva Insurance Limited and QBE (UK) Limited, are those which HIGA is best advised to challenge through a group claim. The relevant policy wording for Aviva Insurance Limited is its Material Damage & Business Interruption Policy. The relevant QBE policy wordings are: PHOT010419 (Hotel Insurance Policy), PLSC010419 (Leisure Combined), PBCC170619 (Business Combined Insurance Policy) and PNML010119 (Nightclub and Late Night Venue Policy).
HIGA is now writing to all its applicants inviting only those policyholders with these insurers and specified types of policy wordings to confirm that they remain interested in participating in a funded group claim (its first category of HIGA registrants).
HIGA is also inviting any business in the hospitality industry not already registered with HIGA, but which has sought to claim under its business interruption policy with QBE and Aviva and has thus far been ignored or thwarted, now to join HIGA by registering here. Such businesses may include hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, nightclubs and leisure businesses.
All existing HIGA registrants will be directly contacted to explain whether it is thought that their policies potentially offer coverage or not, however only those with the specific policies detailed above will be eligible to participate in the intended HIGA-led group action.
Sonia Campbell, Partner and Head of the Insurance Disputes Practice at Mishcon de Reya LLP, comments:
“We were overwhelmed by the expressions of interest in bringing actions against insurers from within the hospitality industry – demonstrating how hard-hit this sector has been as a result of the government-enforced lock-down and how intransigent many in the insurance industry have been towards their policyholders.
“The decision to limit a potential HIGA legal challenge to just two insurers with specific wordings was always going to be difficult and we recognise many HIGA applicants will be disappointed we are unable to act for them. However we have sought to protect their rights by contacting the FCA on their behalf, potentially affording them the opportunity to engage with the test case the FCA is to bring against as yet unspecified insurers. We wish this cohort every success.
“Whilst we are unable to act for all HIGA applicants, we do consider that many of these policyholders may want to explore other avenues of redress, including through the FCA and the Financial Ombudsman Scheme.
“Meantime, we are contacting those HIGA applicants insured by Aviva and QBE and inviting them to confirm their continued interest in participating in a group claim.
“We also encourage any other business in this sector – with a specifically-worded business interruption policy underwritten by Aviva or QBE – to contact us by no later than Friday 5th June should they wish to consider participating in HIGA’s group action. We believe this is the best way to ensure some financial recompense for these policyholders following their sudden and enforced closure.”
Mishcon de Reya is in discussions with third party funders to secure funding for the costs of this litigation and expects to be able to move forward by Wednesday 10 June, with the aim of issuing a claim as soon as possible thereafter.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Process: Mishcon de Reya fulfilled its commitment to review the insurance policies of those registering interest in this group action by the end of May. These policies have since been categorised and Mishcon is in the process of informing all HIGA registrants into which category their policies belong. Mishcon hopes to have funding in place by 10 June 2020 to commence proceedings during July.
About Mishcon de Reya: the firm has acted on a number of group actions including but not limited to: Taxi drivers against Uber, shareholders against RBS, Royal Mail (tax litigation) and an action against Google. Mishcon is also currently advising the Hiscox Action Group.
About Bell Yard: Bell Yard Communications established and administers HIGA. We are a boutique London-based litigation and legal PR agency, founded by Melanie Riley in 2002. We have a long-established record of advising clients involved in disputes and litigation. In consecutive years since the guide’s formation, Bell Yard is top ranked Band 1 by Chambers’ Litigation Support Guide – achieving recognition from clients, the legal profession and peers alike.