High Court approves €8.35m in claims against collapsed Setanta

Seventh Setanta-related payment out of the State’s Insurance Compensation Fund since 2016

The payment concerns personal injury claims against collapsed Maltese-registered motor insurer Setanta. Photograph: Getty

The payment concerns personal injury claims against collapsed Maltese-registered motor insurer Setanta. Photograph: Getty

 

The president of the High Court has approved a €8.35 million payment, including €3.14 million legal costs, out of the State’s Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF) concerning personal injury claims against collapsed Maltese-registered motor insurer Setanta.

The €8.35 million payment, the seventh Setanta-related one out of the fund since 2016, includes some €5 million for awards or settlements of 77 third-party claims and €3.14 million for legal costs concerning 161 personal injury claims since the last payment out from the fund in November 2019, Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted.

The legal costs are a combination of costs relating to claims paid pre-liquidation and costs taxed or agreed pre-liquidation for agreed claims. The judge also approved a €1.38 million payment out of the fund to meet awards or settlements of 88 claims against collapsed Gibraltar-registered motor insurer, Enterprise Insurance Company plc. Some €496,659 of that is for legal costs, including medical and expert witness fees.

The applications for payment out were made by the State Claims Agency (SCA), represented by Gráinne Fahey BL. Solicitor Robin McDonnell, of Maples Calder, represented the liquidator of Enterprise. Setanta, incorporated in Malta, carried on business here from 2007 and had 75,000 policyholders here when it collapsed in 2014. Paul Mercicea was appointed liquidator.

Setanta made a total of €7.2 million contributions to the ICF from 2007. As a result of a Supreme Court decision in 2017 that the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland was not liable for certain Setanta claims, those are to be dealt with by way of access to the ICF, which has a current balance of €80.2 million. The fund will meet 65 per cent of each first party claim when settled or ruled but no such cap applies to third-party claims. Setanta will also make certain payments once the final position of the assets in the liquidation is known.

Insufficient funds

In an affidavit, Mr Mercicea said the equivalent compensation scheme in Malta (to the fund) was not available to address claims against Setanta policies. There are insufficient funds in the liquidation to pay all creditors in full and he believed, on current information, Setanta would be able to meet less than 22 per cent of the claims. There are now 241 claims against Setanta policies and the payment out application included for the awards and settlements of 77 personal injury claims. Of those, 69 court decrees and/or settlements were negotiated, awarded or agreed since November 2019 when the SCA made its last application for a payment out from the fund.

The total value of the 69 claims is €4.89 million while rulings in eight other personal injury claims issued on behalf of minors amounted to €198,229.

Mr Mercicea said he was advised legal costs had been taxed or agreed at some €3.14 million in respect of 161 third-party claims since the last payment out of the fund in November 2019.

Congratulations

Mr Justice Kelly said he had read the court documents in both applications and congratulated the lawyers on the papers being “in excellent order as usual”. He was satisfied to make the orders sought as the necessary statutory criteria were met.

Ms Fahey, noting the judge retires this week, said she believed she might be speaking not just for herself but the Bar in thanking him for his “remarkable service to the State”. Mr McDonnell said, as a solicitor, he echoed those comments on behalf of solicitors generally. Registrar Angela Brennan also wished the judge a long and happy retirement.