Hospitality Legal Challenge to Covid19 Business Interruption Claims

by Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality

Hospitality Legal Challenge to Covid19 Business Interruption Claims

by Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality
Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality
Case Owner
I'm a seasoned in-house lawyer, specialising in the hospitality industry, committed to seeing the insurance sector meet their obligations to hospitality businesses across the UK.
18
days to go
£30,500
pledged of £100,000 stretch target from 140 pledges
Pledge now
Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality
Case Owner
I'm a seasoned in-house lawyer, specialising in the hospitality industry, committed to seeing the insurance sector meet their obligations to hospitality businesses across the UK.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: June 6, 2020

CASE UPDATE

Firstly...thank you for everyone who has supported us so far and -  YES  - we are still accepting new supporters.


We have been asked about the FCA "deadline" of 5 June.  The F…

Read more

INTRODUCTION

The impact of coronavirus has hit far and wide. Not just in terms of the tragic loss of life but also the loss of livelihood. No sector has been impacted harder than hospitality. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in March, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities were forced to close. At a time when most owners would be looking to their insurance companies for support, most insurers have firmly shut their doors in the faces of their policy holders. Anyone who has taken out business interruption insurance would reasonably expect circumstances such as these – being told to close by the Government – to be fully covered. This crowdfund appeal, endorsed by UK Hospitality, will mount a legal challenge against the insurance sector’s refusal to pay out to hospitality businesses.

ABOUT ME

My name is Rob Atkinson. I qualified as a solicitor in 1999 and work exclusively in the hospitality industry. I act as in-house counsel for Black and White Hospitality which owns the franchise rights for Marco Pierre White restaurants and manages a number of hotels across the UK under brands by Hilton and IHG, as well as independents. I will manage this campaign, with support from specialist private practice solicitors and leading barristers, ensuring donations are spent wisely and with maximum impact.

BACKGROUND

As someone firmly entrenched in our amazing UK hospitality industry, I have seen first hand the devastation almost every business has suffered. Revenues reduced to zero overnight. We have been badly let down by our insurers. Legal action started some weeks ago to challenge this in the USA. Various groups have now formed in the UK with similar intentions. This crowdfund aims to lead the fight for our hospitality industry and add to the pressure currently being applied by Government, the FCA, UK Hospitality and various PR campaigns.

THE PLAN

We have held preliminary discussions with a leading city law firm specialising in policy disputes. They have already looked at numerous policies within the hospitality sector and consider that many policies potentially cover the losses currently being experienced and that the insurers' position should be challenged. It is, however, important to note that not every policy will be drafted the same and the strength of potential challenge will vary. Phase 1 is intended to gather together all different policy wording variations in our hospitality sector, group them together by category and then get a view from specialist insurance lawyers on which policies offer coverage in principle and which do not. This will be carefully managed so that costs do not spiral. A leading barrister will be engaged to analyse the excuses raised by insurers and suggest grounds for challenge in each category.

Phase 1 will therefore include;

- Initial review of policies, and insurers' reasons for declining.

- Advice on coverage under each “category” of policy.

- Allocate claims to track: (1) no coverage; (2) potential coverage; (3) stronger case on coverage.

The results will be communicated to all our backers, and the next phase commenced.

Phase 2 – Pre-action representation

Groups will be formed with a view to launching a group claim against insurers. Initial focus would be on the stronger claims. We would continue to work with specialist lawyers and a leading barrister to assist in preparing claims to be issued in Court.

Prior to the issue of any claim, we would seek to engage with insurers by setting out our case. The responses will be reviewed and reported. Settlement, in principle, with each insurance company would be considered. Stand alone policyholder settlements would not been encouraged - we are in this as an industry and must fight and attempt to find resolution as an industry.

Phase 3 – Litigation

If Phase 2 is not successful, then Court proceedings will be issued.

N.B. Claims by organisations with an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million and fewer than 50 employees (or a balance sheet total of less than £5 million), with a claim value of under £350,000 may be referred to the Financial Ombudsmen Service for determination.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

The insurance industry is, as a whole, understandably protective of its own position. The best way to engage them in meaningful discussions is as a group. The hospitality industry is tight knit as recent shows of strength and camaraderie in the face of adversity have shown. By working together, we can help to secure financial support that has been paid for and is deserved. This should not be just a problem for the Government to deal with while the insurance companies get away with refusing to honour claims. Please pledge whatever you can to help support the action on behalf of our industry to ensure the survival of many businesses which would not otherwise survive.

DONATIONS

If you want your own policy to be looked at, we would ask for a minimum donation of £200. This will ensure that your specific wording is reviewed and included in the general advice. If, on the other hand, you want to support the campaign generally and access the results of the initial advice then you are asked to make whatever donation you can afford. Once the advice is provided you can consider it alongside your own policy to judge the chances of a successful challenge. The more pressure we can apply, alongside pressure being applied elsewhere, the stronger the chances of success.

We welcome support from groups, organisations and leading industry figures who are passionate about seeing hospitality receive the support it deserves. Even if you are not directly involved in hospitality, but want to see the industry recover, please donate to the cause. Nobody wants to see their local bar, restaurant, hotel or club fail because the insurance industry won't play their part.

All surplus funds remaining at the end of the campaign will be released to charity.

We are already fortunate to have the support of industry leading heavyweights such as UK Hospitality and Best Western Hotels. Our followers increase daily, all unwilling to accept the unacceptable. Please join our group.

Let's help the hospitality industry get back on its feet as soon as we can...thank you.


Recent contributions

Be a promoter

Your share on Facebook could raise £26 for the case

I'll share on Facebook
Update 4

Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality

June 6, 2020

CASE UPDATE

Firstly...thank you for everyone who has supported us so far and -  YES  - we are still accepting new supporters.


We have been asked about the FCA "deadline" of 5 June.  The FCA are putting together a test case(s) to test much of the ambiguous wording in BI policies before the courts.  Though we say "ambiguous" - many policy holders feel it is very clear - but insurers have created ambiguity in the interpretation and this is what a court must decide.  The FCA wanted to check that they understood the full spread of policy wordings and therefore invited people to send in their policies.  This was only to ensure such wording formed part of a test case, not for a specific individual review.  The hospitality industry was well represented here and we are confident that the test cases will cover most, if not all, of our members' wordings.


Of course, once the test cases are resolved (July/Aug), that will not mean an automatic payout if it is resolved in our favour and there will be work to do in pushing the insurers to FULL settlement.


In the meantime, it makes sense for us to await the results of this test case.  We fully understand that for many of you finances are tight and every week is crucial.  Rest assured we are trying to move things along as quickly as possible but many matters are out of our control.  The more momentum grows in our page, the more PR and the greater pressure will be on the insurance sector to resolve matters before court action.


OUR REVIEW: Our lawyers are currently well into the review of all policies submitted.  This is taking time - there are 100s of policies across 40+ insurers.  The review will result in all policies being graded GREEN (excellent cover - should be paying now), AMBER (ambiguity over cover, needs resolving in test cases) and RED (weak cover, unlikely to assist.  Everyone will be told which category their policy falls into.  Ambers will be told which wording needs looking at by the courts so you understand what the issues are.  Green will be advised of next steps.  We are hoping that the review will be complete in about a week's time.


All new supporters will be sent the upload link.  We would have liked to include it on the standard "thanks for your donation" email but it wasn't possible to customise this.  We are trying to release the link in a controlled fashion so we don't get people uploading who haven't donated!  A small tip when you do upload, wait about ten seconds and then it confirms...patience is key here!  If anyone struggles getting the link please email Rob but we do try to send it out regularly to catch new supporters.


Thank you once again for your support.  At the start of this campaign we were told that we had no chance and you couldn't challenge the whole insurance industry - well that was wrong - we are challenging them and, with the help of the FCA, we will not accept the unacceptable.


Update 3

Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality

May 22, 2020

UPLOAD OF DOCUMENTS

We have received over 100 uploaded policies to date from 39 separate insurance companies.  Our law firm, Fenchurch, are in the process of sorting the policies and the applicable BI wording.


If you have recently joined us, firstly thank you for your support.  In order to upload documents you will need a link to a private website page, only available to campaign members.  This is periodically sent out in member updates but if anyone needs it more urgently then please email me directly rob@blackandwhitehospitality.com 

Update 2

Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality

May 1, 2020

**IMPORTANT ADVICE**

Please make sure you "notify" your insurance company of a claim.  This is different to asking them if you are covered to which the first answer will almost certainly be "no".  Even if they advise that you are not covered insist that you NOTIFY a claim.  This is still the case even if you have been provisionally told you have no cover.

Update 1

Rob Atkinson - Challenging Business Interruption cover in Hospitality

April 27, 2020

Upload of documents - details

Thanks for the donations to date and supporting the hospitality industry.  If you have donated £200 or more you will be sent a password to allow upload of your documents onto the website.  This is being finalised now and details will be emailed out.  Keep your eye on our twitter feed @businesscovid19 for regular updates.  A lot of PR is expected this week.  

    There are no public comments on this case page.