Federal Court concludes hearing appeals in COVID-19 BI test case

Federal Court concludes hearing appeals in COVID-19 BI test case | Insurance Business Australia

Federal Court concludes hearing appeals in COVID-19 BI test case

The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court) has concluded hearing appeals in the second COVID-19 business interruption (BI) test case.

The second BI test case, which ran until September 15, comprised nine small business claims from different business sectors and locations lodged with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) as part of its dispute resolution process.

On November 12, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) confirmed that the Federal Court stopped receiving appeals in the test case and has reserved its judgement, which is expected to be announced by the end of 2021 or shortly thereafter.

ICA CEO Andrew Hall said in a statement that the representative body was grateful to the Federal Court for taking another step towards finalising the case.

“Insurers, including those not directly involved in the court proceedings, are committed to applying the principles of the courts’ final ruling consistently and efficiently to all business interruption claims,” he added.

Read more: ICA update on Federal Court COVID-19 BI test case appeals

In October 2021, the ICA shared that policyholders and insurers brought appeals following Justice Jagot’s decision to uphold the arguments advanced by insurers in eight of the nine matters in the test case.

The court found that the cover had been triggered, but noted substantial issues around whether the policyholder could prove any relevant BI. In a separate case, it ruled that insurers could not rely on a section of Victorian property legislation to exclude liability.

Delivering her judgement via live stream, Jagot said last month that “the insurers cannot rely on s61A to operate to replace references to the Quarantine Act 1908 with references to the Biosecurity Act 2015. Exclusions in the policies based on the Quarantine Act 1908, therefore, do not apply as COVID-19 was not a quarantinable disease under the Quarantine Act 1908.”

Following Jagot’s decision, the Federal Court set aside time in the second week of November to hear appeals from insurers or policyholders.