In a judgement of 22 May 2020, the Commercial Court of Paris ordered “en référé” the insurance company AXA IARD to compensate a Parisian restaurant owner for operating losses incurred as a result of the closure of his establishment due to the current covid 19 pandemic.
In this particular case, the restaurant owner had an insurance policy which covers operating losses without material damages which have occurred as a result of an imposed closure. The court ruled that the decree of the Minister of Health, Olivier VERAN, to close the restaurant from 14 March 2020 at midnight, constituted an administrative closure decision and qualified for insurance cover as a business interruption loss.
It must be noted that under the terms of the restaurant owner’s insurance policy, the insurer AXA IARD did not exclude the risk of a pandemic. As a result, AXA IARD insurance company was ordered to compensate the restaurant owner for the operating losses he has incurred by the restaurant closure.
It is important to note that the court was ruling in “référé” (emergency judge) and it was not a judgement on the merits of the claim. The restaurant incurred significant losses because of its imposed closure. The matter became urgent as the restaurant owner was losing money day-by-day. The judge took urgent steps here by applying the terms of the insurance policy, which allowed the business owner to cover his losses, such as gross margin or salaries, in the event of an imposed closure.
The insurance company AXA IARD has appealed against the court judgement.
As this decision could well set a precedent, it would be particularly interesting for other restaurateurs or hoteliers to review their professional insurance policy and check if it includes a similar cover, which would allow them to make a claim for compensation for operating losses.
If you feel you are in this situation and need legal assistance in respect of a French insurance policy claim, please do not hesitate to contact Loic Raboteau, who is heading our French desk, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org