English Appellate Court Dismisses Appeal Of Judgment Declaring No Liability Under A Cargo Liability Reinsurance Policy

by Carlton Fields
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A judgment found that certain Lloyd’s reinsurers were not liable to cover the destruction of cargo on board a vessel that capsized in the Philippines during a Typhoon. The trial court relied on a typhoon warranty clause contained in both the reinsurance policy and the underlying insurance policy, which deemed the policy void if a vessel sailed out of port (1) “when there is a typhoon or storm warning at that port”; or (2) when the destination or intended route “may be within the possible path of the typhoon or storm announced at the port of sailing, port of destination or any intervening point.” The trial court had found that there was a typhoon or storm warning at the port of sailing, and that the vessel’s route was within the possible path of the typhoon or storm announced at the port.

On appeal, the cedent argued that the first condition of the typhoon warranty clause was not breached under a four-step analysis: (1) the reinsurance policy contained a follow the settlements clause, (2) which required the reinsurance coverage to be interpreted like the underlying insurance policy, (3) the insurance policy should be construed in accordance with what an experienced insured would have understood the storm notice to mean, and (4) in this case, the storm notice would not be understood by an experienced insured as a sufficient warning against embarking. The court rejected this argument, holding that the clause must be understood according to only its plain meaning, both with respect to the clause in the insurance policy and the parallel clause in the reinsurance policy, and here it was undisputed that a storm warning had been issued. The court also rejected the cedent’s contention that the intended path of the vessel would not have crossed the possible path of the typhoon, finding that it was proper for the trial court to determine that the intended route was within the typhoon’s path. Amlin Corporate Member Ltd. v. Oriental Assurance Corp., [2014] EWCA Civ 1135 (Royal Courts of Justice, July 8, 2014).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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