There’s an often quoted piece of advice about never asking a question in court to which you don’t know the answer. The rationale given for this is to avoid the answer being not only a very unwelcome surprise but also something which fundamentally damages your arguments. That being the case, how to ask the question whether commercial insurance policies cover business interruption (BI) losses caused by restrictions due to COVID-19?
At the beginning of the month the Court of Justice (CJEU) gave a decision about jurisdiction in Reliantco, an investment trading case which could, despite the very different fields, have ramifications for other cross border disputes, such as personal injury cases, in which the claimant is acting as a consumer.
It was only the end of February when the Lord Chancellor made a statement pushing implementation back to this August. I commented at the time that it was “very difficult to see further delay after the Lord Chancellor’s intervention today.”
In ordinary times that would surely have been the case. But the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the two months since and the changes it has brought to the government’s priorities have prompted the Lord Chancellor to step in again and confirm a further postponement to April 2021. Although his latest statement refers to the “unprecedented impact on the medical, legal and insurance sectors” of the pandemic it should be noted that it begins with a clearly restated commitment to these reforms.
If there is no further delay then the measures are set to go live some five and a half years after first being outlined in the Autumn Statement of 2015.