Supreme Court reserves judgment on Setanta insurance fallout

MIBI argues State Insurance Compensation Fund should meet estimated €90m bill

The Supreme Court will give judgment at a later date on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland’s appeal against decisions it is potentially liable for claims brought against collapsed insurer Setanta.

The Supreme Court will give judgment at a later date on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland’s appeal against decisions it is potentially liable for claims brought against collapsed insurer Setanta.

 

The Supreme Court will give judgment at a later date on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland’s (MIBI) appeal against decisions it is potentially liable for claims brought against collapsed insurer Setanta.

The appeal concluded on Tuesday before a seven-judge court presided over by the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, who said the court was reserving judgment.

The court did not specify a date for judgment but it is expected to take some weeks.

A priority hearing of the appeal was granted by the Supreme Court due to the implications of the Court of Appeal’s decision earlier this year rejecting the MIBI’s arguments it should not be held liable. That ruling affected all insurance companies underwriting motor insurance here.

The liquidator of Maltese-registered Setanta, which sold insurance policies exclusively in Ireland before it collapsed in 2014, has determined the cost of claims could run to about €90 million with the number of claimants estimated at 1,750.

The MIBI has argued that, as a result of the appeal court decision, it has been “left captive” with its members obliged to give guarantees even concerning insurers whom they believe will not last.

It argues the State-backed Insurance Compensation Fund should pick up the Setanta bill, as was done in the cases of PMPA and Quinn Insurance.

In opposing the appeal, the Law Society argued that agreements between the MIBI and Government concerning claims related to uninsured drivers envisaged the MIBI would pay out if a member became insolvent. The MIBI is operated under the terms of a 2009 agreement between the Government and companies underwriting motor insurance in Ireland to deal with claims related to uninsured drivers.

The core issue in the appeal is the interpretation of that agreement.

If the court finds the MIBI is liable, it will consider how that impacts on the power of the High Court to approve payments out of the Insurance Compensation Fund if the High Court believes that is the only way of meeting such claims.