Lesley Anderson QC and Ben Harding have succeeded at trial in a test case in the Manchester Circuit Commercial Court regarding the construction of a standard-form ATE policy designed to cover own disbursements and opponent’s costs in personal injury actions.
They were instructed by David Astbury of AB Corporate LLP to represent a Danish underwriter in defending a claim brought by a personal injury law firm based in Blackburn (through one of its insured clients). The firm contended that a term in the policy requiring the underwriter’s written consent to be obtained before discontinuing the PI claim did not apply to own disbursement claims; and that the underwriter was estopped from relying on a term requiring notice of the end of the legal claim to be given within 90 days.
The underwriter contended that the firm was wrong on both counts and counterclaimed declarations to that effect.
The matter proceeded as a test case as the outcome potentially affected £200k in claims value as between the parties, and the underwriter’s policies more widely.
The firm capitulated after the end of the claimant’s evidence, discontinuing the claim and consenting to judgment on the counterclaim.