Fuller's becomes latest high profile Business Interruption Insurance claimant


It is being reported that the pub firm, Fuller, Smith & Turner Plc, has issued proceedings against Aviva and Liberty Mutual in the Commercial Court. 

City AM yesterday published an article in which it quoted Fuller's as confirming that the claim related to business interruption insurance ("BII"). This follows Fuller's reporting heavy losses for the period during which COVID-19 had its most severe impact on the hospitality industry in particular. 

The proceedings are likely to join a number of BII claims being actively managed by the Commercial Court. This is designed to enable the court to manage and hear cases involving similar issues and policy wordings together. 

As this particular claim was issued only last week, and the insurers are yet to respond, we don't yet know the particular details of the claim or the extent to which the claim will be defended. It remains to be seen what issues will fall for determination by the court. 

The courts have already been asked to decide a range of issues in a series of BII claims following the Supreme Court's decision in the FCA test case in January 2021. The court has considered the extent of cover available under differing policies in the context of specific disease clauses, denial of access clauses and geographical limits, as well as causation and aggregation issues. In the October 2022 decisions in Stonegate, Various Eateries and Greggs the court also grappled with the question of whether Government support received should limit the indemnity under the policies. 

The court has therefore answered many questions about the availability of cover under certain policy wordings and these decisions have enabled insurance claims to be resolved. However, differences between the particular wording of BI policies teamed with the unique factual matrix behind each claim, means that disputes continue to come before the court to be resolved. Given the significant losses experienced by businesses hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions, this should come as no surprise. 

These fresh proceedings from Fuller's reinforce that there are likely to be yet more businesses with potential claims. 

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The London firm was forced to close all of its UK pubs after the British government introduced lockdown measures in 2020 in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Fuller’s posted a £59.2m loss in the financial year ending on 27 March 2021due to the impact of the UK’s Covid restrictions on pub firm’s revenues.
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