Organisers of a hospitality-specific crowdfund campaign that is challenging insurers over the non-payment of business interruption policies, have now issued guidance on the next steps members can take in their battle for justice.
It coincides with the beginning of a test case in the High Court by the FCA on behalf of thousands of businesses that claim they should have been paid by insurers to cover closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The crowdfund campaign was launched by Rob Atkinson, a leading in-house hospitality lawyer from Black and White Hospitality which operates the Marco Pierre White portfolio of restaurants. Those who signed up and provided their policies for review, have now been told whether they stand a chance of making a successful recovery in Court under the relevant policy.
Rob Atkinson said: “We have received hundreds of policies and is indicative of how badly those in the hospitality sector have been let down by their insurers.
“Members’ claims have now been “triaged” by reference to a traffic light system with red standing no realistic prospect of success through the court system, amber providing minimal prospect of success and green standing a reasonable prospect of success.
“Those with “green” claims are those whose claims are affected by issues being considered by the High Court in the case brought by the FCA. Those members are, we understand, adopting a “wait and see” approach to their claims, pending the High Court’s decision.
“Members with “red” and “amber” claims are unaffected, or unlikely to be materially helped, by the FCA Test Case. That being so, we’re advising that those members should refer their claims to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for determination.
“The rationale for a referral to FOS (and as discussed later in this guidance note) is that the FOS approaches claims differently to a Court. Whereas the Court is bound to apply its interpretation of the law, an Ombudsman’s role is to reach a determination that he or she considers, on the facts of an individual case, is “fair and reasonable in all the circumstances”.
“We have issued guidance to all of our members and will be also be holding two webinars on 27 and 28 July to give more guidance on the next course of action so we want to see as many businesses attend these sessions. Anyone who contributes to the crowdfund campaign will be sent a link to the webinar, it’s not too late to join.”