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03 Aug 2022

Stephenson Harwood advises QBE in English High Court success

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Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has successfully advised longstanding client QBE in relation to an anti-suit injunction (ASI) against a direct action claim brought by a third party, Generali España de Seguros y Reaseguros (Generali), in an EU member state.

On 1 August 2022, the English Commercial Court granted an ASI to restrain Generali from pursuing a direct action claim it commenced earlier in the year against QBE, the liability insurer of the alleged wrongdoer, before the Spanish Courts, in favour of the arbitration clause contained in the underlying liability policy.

In 2016, the motor yacht, Angara, allegedly caused damage to an underwater power cable linking the islands of Mallorca and Menorca. On payment of the cable owner's claim under its civil liability and property damage policy, Generali become subrogated to the rights which its insured could potentially have against the yacht's owners. On 23 February 2022, Generali – which seemingly was unable to make a recovery against the yacht's owners – brought a direct action claim before the Spanish Courts against QBE UK – and QBE Europe, as the transferee of the P&I policy – in their role as Angara's P&I insurer, seeking indemnity for the loss and damage arising from the power cable incident.

"This is a significant judgment, as it offers clarity from an English Court on the availability of ASI relief in the post-Brexit landscape for liability insurers faced with direct action claims in EU jurisdictions pursuant to local direct action legislation," said Joe O'Keeffe, partner, Stephenson Harwood. "We were pleased to advise our longstanding client in relation to this, and to provide our market leading expertise on this complex issue concerning ASIs."

The Stephenson Harwood team comprised partner Joe O'Keeffe, managing associate Mateusz Bek and associate Szonja Kolbenheyer.

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