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English Courts Construe Condition Precedent Claims Notification Clause Narrowly

February 1, 2017, Covington Alert

In response to the Insurance Act 2015, insurers may increasingly include conditions precedent in their policies in place of warranties, whose effect the Act has weakened. In the recent case of Zurich Insurance Plc v Maccaferri Limited [2016] EWHC Civ 1302, the Court of Appeal in London made clear that an ambiguous condition precedent must be interpreted strictly against the insurer. The court there construed narrowly the words “as soon as possible” in a clause that required notification of an event likely to give rise to a claim, rejecting the insurer’s argument that the policyholder had a duty to perform a rolling assessment of the likelihood that a past event might give rise to a claim.

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