Category Archives: Fires

Goodlife Foods Ltd v Hall Fire Protection Ltd [2017] EWHC 767 (TCC)

This is a useful decision of the Court upholding the application of a broadly drafted clause excluding property damage liability in negligence on the part of a supplier of a fire prevention mechanism which failed.  Continue reading

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Filed under Breach of contract, Contractual interpretation, Exclusion clauses, Fires

Expert reliance: Wheeldon Brothers Waste Ltd v Millennium Insurance Co Ltd

Wheeldon Brothers Waste Ltd v Millennium Insurance Co Ltd [2017] EWHC 218 TCC

This case involved a fire at the Claimant’s waste processing plant. The Claimant sought to recover approximately £1.5 million in damages from the Defendant insurers. During the first CMC, the Claimant sought to prohibit the Defendant insurer from relying on their chosen fire expert, Mr Steven Braund, a forensic expert employed by Hawkins.

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Filed under Causation, Expert Evidence, Fires

2TG Damage Day 2016

Thanks to all those who attended 2TG’s Damage Day 2016. The day was a great success, with a record number of attendees.

A special thanks to the Hon. Mr Justice Coulson who delivered the keynote speech.

 Many thanks to our speakers:

  • Howard Palmer QC who spoke on the problems of causation in contract and negligence based property damages cases
  • Jessica van der Meer who spoke on knowledge of malfunction and attribution of knowledge in property damage cases
  • Sonia Nolten who spoke on the meaning of “reasonable opportunity to abate” in subsidence claims.
  • George Hilton who spoke on procedure & awards under the Party Wall Act 1996
  • Ben Hobby FCA, Dip CII, of RGL Forensics who provided the expert perspective on proving a loss of profits calculation
  • Daniel Crowley & Isabel Barter who spoke on expert evidence & the Ocensa Pipeline Group Litigation Action
  • Andrew Miller QC who spoke on the changing face of mediation in property damage claims.

You can catch some of the highlights of Damage Day 2016 on 2TG’s twitter account: @2TempleGardens

We look forward to seeing you at Damage Day 2017

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Filed under ADR, Breach of contract, Causation, Contribution, Duty of Care, Expert Evidence, Fires, Floods, Insurance, Limitation, Natural Disaster, Nuisance, Party Walls, Procedure

Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) SE v Western Trading Limited [2016] EWCA 1003

2TG’s Bob Moxon Browne QC and Lucas Fear-Segal appeared for Great Lakes in the Court of Appeal.

Background

A Midlands property company, Western Trading Ltd, held an informal tenancy of a Grade II listed former leather factory in Walsall, known as the Boak. These premises were owned by the company’s director and shareholder, Mr Singh. Although derelict, with an agreed value of only £75,000 as a rough storage facility, the building was insured for £2.1m, which was roughly what it would have cost to reinstate it in the event of damage or destruction. At this point, the building had very doubtful development potential, because of the planning constraints imposed by its heritage status, and limitations imposed by the shape of the building and features of its very distinctive elevations.

In 2012, the Boak was destroyed by fire, whereupon the listed status of the premises was rescinded. In consequence the Boak site acquired significant development potential, and an accompanying substantial increase in value.

By the insuring clause in the policy, the insurer agreed to indemnify Western Trading against ‘loss of or damage to the property’. By an additional Memorandum, the insurers agreed to provide an indemnity on a reinstatement basis, subject to the provision that nothing would be paid ‘until the cost of reinstatement shall have actually been incurred’.

Following the fire, no reinstatement was carried out. The insurers declined to make any payment to Western Trading, on the grounds that the policy was for various reasons invalid, and that in any event Western Trading had suffered no loss, and could not claim a reinstatement indemnity because no works of reinstatement had been done.

Western Trading issued proceedings in London’s Mercantile Court claiming £2.1m from the insurers, alternatively a declaration ‘that it was entitled to be indemnified by the policy in respect of the losses it has suffered’. Continue reading

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Filed under Fires, Insurance

London Riots property damage case appealed to the UK Supreme Court

On 21 January 2016 the UK Supreme Court will hear the appeal in Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co (Europe) Ltd and other companies v Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.  Continue reading

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Filed under Fires, Insurance

Sound the Alarm: when Condition Precedents bite in fire claims

Milton Furniture v Brit Insurance [2015] EWCA Civ 671 provides a timely reminder of the power and importance of ‘conditions precedent’ within property insurance policies – and that the Courts will not read down such conditions simply on account of their being onerous and/or overlapping.

The Facts

Milton, an events hire company, occupied a set of buildings comprising of a large office/warehouse (“the warehouse”) attached to a dwelling house (“the house”) by way of a link building (“the link building”).

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Filed under Contractual interpretation, Fires, Insurance

Causation goes up in smoke: Lydia Graves v Marinus Gerardus Brouwer [2015] EWCA Civ 595

As the Court of Appeal said, “This is by any standards a bizarre case” (judgment here).

It provides a salutary reminder of the need for courts to avoid falling into The Popi M trap, and the necessity for claimants to prove their cases on causation.

The facts

The Claimant brought a case in negligence against her neighbour for damages resulting from a fire at the Claimant’s property.

Thirty minutes or so before the outbreak of the fire, the Defendant had set fire to four pieces of paper/card in a narrow alleyway which separated their properties. The Defendant’s evidence was that the fire was small and controlled, that he had watched it carefully and that afterwards had used his garden hose to spray water over the ashes and check everything was extinguished.

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Filed under Causation, Fires

TOWIE in the TCC: Sugar Hut Group v AJ Insurance [2014] EWHC 3775 (Comm)

The Sugar Hut nightclub, made famous by the TV programme The Only Way Is Essex (aka “TOWIE”), is back in the law reports.

Those whose interests encompass both trash TV and insurance law will recall that in 2010 Sugar Hut unsuccessfully sued its buildings insurer for an indemnity for a fire which had occurred there in 2009. Burton J held in Sugar Hut Group Ltd v Great Lakes (Re)Insurance UK Limited [2010] EWHC 2636 (Comm) that it had failed to disclose material facts concerning the insolvency of various of its subsidiaries, and had breached various warranties as to the state of combustible ducting in its kitchen.  Continue reading

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Filed under Fires

Badly designed, badly maintained: causation in fire claims

In Howmet Limited v Economy Devices Limited [2014] EWHC 3933 (TCC), Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart dealt with issues of causation in the (unfortunately) common situation where the Defendant’s deficiently manufactured component was inadequately monitored by the Claimant.

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Filed under Causation, Fires

Damage Day 2014 Round-up

On Friday 28 November 2014, 2tg hosted its inaugural ‘Damage Day’ event, which saw over 130 practitioners in the field of property damage descend on the beautiful surroundings of Parliament Hall at Inner Temple for an afternoon of seminars on topical property damage issues.  The event was formally opened by an address from Sir Vivian Ramsey on the impact of the Jackson Reforms. The day’s presentations ranged from fracking to costs management in a post-Jackson era.

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Filed under Costs & Cost Budgets, Expert Evidence, Fires