Bartoline Limited v Royal Sun Alliance plc: 2007

The claimant sought an indemnity under the Public Liability Section of a Combined Policy for: (i) expense incurred by the Environment Agency under section 161 of the Water Resources Act 1991 cleaning up water courses of pollutants after a fire on the claimant’s premises; and (ii) the cost of works specified in statutory Works Notices served on the claimant by the Agency under section 161A of the 1991 Act. The Public Liability policy provided: ‘The Company will provide indemnity (1) up to the Limit of Indemnity against legal liability for damages in respect of (A) accidental injury of any person (B) accidental loss of or damage to Property (C) nuisance trespass to land or trespass to goods or interference with any easement right of air light water or way other than legal liability for damages which result from a deliberate act or omission of the Insured or which is a natural consequence of the ordinary conduct of the Business and which could reasonably have been expected by the Insured having regard to the nature and circumstances of such act or omission happening during any Period of Insurance in connection with the Business. (2) Against legal liability for claimant’s costs and expenses in connection with 1 above.’ The claim made by the Agency against the claimant was not a claim made in tort.
Held: The Agency’s claim was not covered by the policy.
HHJ Hegarty QC said: ”Damages’ are the pecuniary recompense given by process of law to a person for the actionable wrong that another has done him.
Furthermore, at least in the field of marine insurance, it seems to me to be quite clear that this is the meaning which will normally be attributed to the word. Indeed, in that particular context, an even narrower construction has been adopted, even in the absence of an express term to that effect, since it will normally exclude any damages payable by the insured pursuant to contract.
I can see no obvious reason why a different approach should be adopted in relation to other forms of public liability insurance. The essential purpose of such policies is to provide an indemnity in respect of certain types of tortious liability. That is reflected in the choice of the word ‘damages’ in the insuring clause of the Policy in this case. As it seems to me, that is made even clearer by the particular context in which the word is used, since the indemnity is granted only in respect of ‘legal liability for damages in respect of . . accidental loss of or damage to property . . nuisance trespass to land or trespass to goods or interference with any easement right of air light water or way’.
HHJ Hegarty QC
[2007] Lloyd’s Rep IR 423
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedTesco Stores Ltd. v Constable and others Comc 14-Sep-2007
The defendants provided insurance for the claimant to construct a train tunnel over which the claimant would build a supermarket. The tunnel collapsed, and the railway operator claimed for loss of revenues. The insurers denied responsibility saying . .
CitedBedfordshire Police Authority v Constable and others ComC 20-Jun-2008
The authority insured its primary liability for compensation under the 1886 Act through the claimants and the excess of liability through re-insurers. The parties sought clarification from the court of the respective liabilities of the insurance . .
CitedBedfordshire Police Authority v Constable CA 12-Feb-2009
The police had responded to a riot at Yarlswood detention centre. They had insurance to cover their liability under the 1886 Act, but the re-insurers said that the insurance did not cover the event, saying that the liability was for statutory . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 20 May 2021; Ref: scu.259383