A French court has ruled that an insurer must cover a restaurant’s business interruption costs due to coronavirus, in a ruling that is being called hugely significant.
After losing a case that could set a global precedent, the French multinational insurance giant AXA, said it intends to meet the bulk of business interruption claims from some restaurant owners in France.
The action was taken against the insurer by Stéphane Manigold, owner of four Paris restaurants, and a ruling was made last week that the restaurateur’s loss of two months’ revenue should be covered by the firm.
The Paris court’s decision reverberated around the world, with Manigold telling Reuters that his restaurant group had been taking calls from around the world inquiring about the details of the contract and the case. Calls came in from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Spain and the United States, he said.
"This decision in Paris has a global resonance." - Stephane Manigold
A UK trade body, the Night Time Industries Association, which is also considering action against insurers, told Reuters the Paris case bodes well for their cause.
"It absolutely strengthens the case for legitimate claims to be considered in the UK, and I am sure that there are some legal parallels being drawn from the case against AXA in France," the association's chief executive, Michael Kill said.
AXA will appeal the ruling, however. The company’s CEO Thomas Buberl claimed they are looking for an amicable solution, and that they intend to meet the bulk of claims from restaurant owners whose contracts contained some ambiguity.
"These contracts represent less than 10% out of total contracts with restaurant owners and I am confident that we will find a solution," Buberl said.
Some other French insurers have confirmed that they will pay out to restaurants for loss of earnings, depending on the contract. Generali France has committed to paying 600 hospitality businesses.
AXA also said it would provide a further 500 million euros ($546m) in aid for small companies, on top of plans already announced by French insurers to invest 1.7 billion euros in domestic companies.
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