AstraZeneca Insurance Company Ltd v XL Insurance (Bermuda) Ltd and Ace Bermuda Insurance Ltd
14-17 January, Commercial Court
For the claimant AstraZeneca Insurance Company Ltd:
Essex Court Chambers’ Paul Stanley QC leading Henderson Chambers’ Geraint Webb instructed by DAC Beachcroft partners Simon Pearl, Kenneth McKenzie, Alison McAdams
For the defendants XL Insurance (Bermuda) Ltd and Ace Bermuda Insurance Ltd:
Fountain Court’s Michael Crane QC to lead Essex Court Chambers’ David Scorey, instructed by Clyde & Co partners Michael Payton and Jon Turnbull
Next week (14 January) DAC Beachcroft will take on Clyde & Co in the High Court in a case that will have implications for reinsurers around the globe.
In dispute is whether Bermuda-based reinsurers XL Insurance (Bermuda) and Ace Bermuda Insurance can be held liable for settlements and costs incurred by US pharma company AstraZeneca, which settled 28,000 claims in the US relating to prescription drug Seroquel.
The company’s captive insurance company reimbursed the costs and then turned to its reinsurers to indemnify the claim. XL Insurance and Ace Bermuda have both refused the claim on the grounds that the cases were settled, arguing that a court did not enter a liability ruling.
The reinsurers are understood to have a potential coverage exposure of $200m (£124m).
It is more common for disputes over the Bermuda Form to be settled through arbitration, but this case will be battled out in the Commercial Court, with some of the biggest names in insurance law drafted in.
Clyde & Co partner Michael Payton, who will celebrate 29 years as senior partner later this year is instructed for the reinsurers alongside heavyweight Jon Turnbull. They will face three DAC Beachcroft partners.
Lawyers said that the case would introduce new questions of reinsurance law, including whether there is a presumption that under a liability policy coverage is only for actual and not alleged liabilities.