The Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK was published earlier today.
On financial services (including insurance), the final declaration essentially contains the same three points as in last week’s outline political declaration (as discussed in our blog post of 15th November), although there is some limited further clarification.
Yesterday’s announcements on the terms agreed for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU say relatively little about the future framework for cross-border trade in goods or services. More detail is expected on this next week.
The final deal remains subject to approval by the European Council, the EU Parliament and, crucially, the UK Parliament. Nonetheless, yesterday’s agreement must have increased the chances of a transitional (or implementation) period for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. During that period, both (re)insurers and (re)insurance intermediaries would continue to benefit from the passporting rights that they currently hold, but ultimately stand to lose.
Press reports over the past couple of days suggest that a deal struck by the UK government would “give UK financial services companies continued access to European markets after Brexit” and that “UK financial companies will be able to operate as they now do in Europe“.
There has not been any confirmation that a deal on services has in fact been reached. Rather, there have been denials. Any deal on services is also dependent on all other aspects of a withdrawal agreement and the new UK-EU relationship being agreed.
The press reports suggest that the EU may have agreed to accept that the UK regulatory regime is “equivalent” to EU standards (which will undoubtedly be true at the time of exit), and that the UK will be given greater certainty than other third countries that this acceptance will not be arbitrarily withdrawn. Michel Barnier has since suggested (in a tweet on 1 November) that this greater certainty for the UK as to withdrawal of equivalence may not be forthcoming.
Whether or not a deal has in fact been reached on services, it is important to recognise that securing “equivalence” does not mean that UK insurers and intermediaries can continue to carry on cross-border business as if they held passporting rights.
In the recent judgment in Wm Morrisons Supermarkets Plc v Various Claimants  EWCA Civ 233 the Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal against the High Court’s decision that Morrisons was vicariously liable for its employee’s misuse of data, despite: (i) Morrisons having done as much as it reasonably could to prevent the misuse; and (ii) the employee’s intention being to cause reputational or financial damage to Morrisons itself. It is understood that Morrisons intends to appeal to the Supreme Court. Our full analysis of the Court of Appeal’s decision can be found here.
Companies now find themselves exposed to potential UK data breach class action claims, including for distress-based damages, based on vicarious liability, even if they have appropriate safeguards in place and even if they are the intended victim of the breach. Day by day businesses find themselves responsible for higher volumes of personal data; and the risk of data breach claims is exacerbated by the legislative changes made by the GDPR, increasing public awareness of data protection issues and the publicity that this case has attracted. In addition, the facts of Morrisons were such that the company had been found not to be in breach of data protection laws. Future class action claims may be even easier to launch in circumstances where a company has been found to breach the GDPR, for example, by not having appropriate security measures in place. It is understood that Morrisons intends to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In Dalamd Limited v Butterworth Spengler Commercial Limited  EWHC 2558 (Comm), Mr Justice Butcher considered a negligence claim against the Defendant insurance broker arising out of a fire at a waste recycling facility. The insured’s claim succeeded in part.
In his decision, the Judge provided a useful recap on brokers’ duties, in particular their duty to advise clients on their pre-inception duties of disclosure. Of particular note, he also considered how causation should be analysed in brokers’ negligence cases where the insured has not pursued the claim against its insurer to settlement, judgment or award. His conclusion – which will be well received by brokers – was that whether a good defence to the policy claim was available to an insurer will be assessed on the balance of probabilities (i.e. a yes/no basis), and not a loss of a chance basis. Whether there was another defence available to the insurer, for which the broker was not responsible, will likewise be assessed on the balance of probabilities, although the issue of whether the insurer would have pursued that point is to be assessed based on loss of chance.
In Mamancochet Mining Limited v Aegis Managing Agency Limited and Others  EWHC 2643, the High Court held that, in order to avoid payment of a claim, insurers were required to show that payment would expose them to sanctions under US or EU law. A mere exposure to the risk of a sanction was not sufficient.
Credit risk insurance and export credit agency (ECA) guarantees play an important role in facilitating trade, whether that is in commercial supply chains, large projects or complex financial transactions. The product has, arguably, never been more important. The collapse of a number of well-known names in the UK high street in recent months has brought a renewed focus on the benefits of credit insurance. Indeed the ability to secure credit risk insurance is sometimes seen indicator of the financial health of a company. In recent years, financial institutions have also increasingly looked to credit risk insurance as a way of maximising capital relief.
We have assisted Airmic to produce a guide for policyholders on Continuity Clauses, which some in the insurance market are using to prepare for the impact of Brexit.
The clauses aim to provide a level of contract continuity in the event that the UK leaves the EU without suitable transitional arrangements being put in place or without an agreement allowing UK insurers to perform cross-border business into the EEA.
The guide explains those Brexit issues of particular relevance to policyholders and explains what Continuity Clauses aim to do. Policyholders are encouraged to discuss the implications of Brexit for their insurance programme with their broker and this guide should assist policyholders in those discussions. Click here to access the guide.
Herbert Smith Freehills is Airmic’s Preferred Service Provider on insurance law issues and has assisted Airmic in producing a number of its technical guides over the past few years.
Geoffrey MaddockPartner, LondonEmail
+44 20 7466 2067
Sarah IronsProfessional Support Lawyer, LondonEmail
+44 20 7466 2060
Alison MatthewsConsultant, LondonEmail
+44 20 7466 2765
The Court of Appeal has handed down its eagerly awaited decision in the ENRC appeal: The Director of the Serious Fraud Office v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Ltd  EWCA Civ 2006. At first instance, the High Court took a restrictive approach to both litigation privilege and legal advice privilege (see our summary of the decision here). The Court of Appeal has allowed the appeal on the question of litigation privilege but has, with apparent reluctance, dismissed the appeal on legal advice privilege, concluding it is a matter for the Supreme Court.
Last week the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill received Royal Assent. The new Automated and Electric Vehicles Act represents the first legislative step towards the UK Government’s aim of establishing the UK as a world leader in the development of driverless car technology and creating “the most advanced and regulatory framework for driverless cars in the world.” The establishment of an insurance framework for automated vehicles is an important step towards the creation of a regulatory framework for this dynamic and rapidly evolving sector.
Anthony Dempster, Phil Pfeffer and James Allsop have written a briefing considering the key provisions of the new Act relating to automated vehicles. Click here to read the briefing.