Echoes of Lloyd's: HIH collapse sparks global case management

TALKS are underway between insurers, bankers and lawyers to cope with the massive volume of film finance litigation by a Lloyd's-style global case management.

`The mass of film finance cases will follow the lead of two test cases at preliminary stages in the English High Court. Both of these involve Australian insurer HIH, which went into provisional liquidation in March.`There has been an automatic stay on proceedings against HIH in order to protect the creditors' interest. However, cases can continue against co-insurers, and the rules in these cases could apply to other cases. “This will enable HIH and the co-insurers to decide whether to fight the cases out, or for them just to pay out,” said Lovells' Peter Taylor, who is acting for provisional liquidators.`It is possible that the cases at various stages of development in the UK and the US will be consolidated. Rather than having a huge number of separate cases, case management and lead action will be maximised.`The parties involved in the discussions include all the parties to the litigation concerning insurance policies brokered by London broker CE Heath. This includes a large number of insurance houses, banks which have provided film finance – including Chase Manhattan, Société Générale and Royal Bank of Scotland – and lawyers.`Proposals for a global case management will be heard in December. Those present will discuss ways to handle in “an orderly and efficient manner” the case management of several film finance cases in which CE Heath arranged policies.`They will include the test case HIH & ors v Chase Manhattan. The plaintiffs, which include eight insurance firms, including HIH, claim they relied on a principle of utmost good faith but had been misled by misrepresentation and non-disclosure.`A case management session took place last Friday of a case in which HIH, as a co-claimant, was not present but other co-insurers were. There has been at least one other to date.`Taylor said: “Global case management has not found favour with many of the litigants, largely because the underlying facts of the case management of film finance tend to be varied, and factual allegations are very different.”`Other cases relating to Heath-brokered policies include the insuring of the films Jacob Two Two, Fever, Complicity and Event Horizon. These actions are less advanced than Chase v HIH, although some proceedings are close to disclosure of documents.