Mills & Reeve successfully defended Lloyd’s itself, and underwriters, from a suspicious specie claim brought in the High Court of Ljubljana, Slovenia, working with our “best friend” firm, Ketler & Partners, member of Karanovic, in the case of 5R Metals v The Society of Lloyd’s. This is believed to be the first time that the workings of Lloyd’s market have been examined in the Slovenian courts.
We worked with Karanovic & Partners to defend the claim by providing expert evidence and legal materials explaining in detail how Lloyd’s works, emphasising that it is a market place and not an insurer, and that Lloyd’s itself therefore did not and could not have subscribed to the policy in question, or indeed to any policy.
In 2017 two of the plaintiff’s (5R Metals) directors travelled by car from Slovenia into Northern Italy. The plaintiff regularly delivered or collected gold in that manner, using a vehicle containing a safe. According to the plaintiff, during the journey the directors experienced an armed robbery. Two strangers stopped the vehicle, forced them to hand over their phones and the keys to the safe in the vehicle before tying them up and driving off with the vehicle and contents to an unknown location. Law enforcement were unable to find the vehicle or the gold, nor identify the perpetrators. The plaintiff claimed that it was entitled to the policy limit of €600,000 under its policy with various Lloyd’s syndicates. The policy was subject to Slovenian law and jurisdiction.
Following investigation, underwriters denied the claim for breach of a clause requiring the insured to produce books and records for inspection, evidencing ownership of the gold in question. In August 2020 the plaintiff issued proceedings in Ljubljana not against the syndicates subscribing to the policy but against “Lloyd’s of London” itself. Those proceedings were served via the Hague Convention by hand on Lloyd’s in January 2021, during lockdown, whereupon we were instructed to defend Lloyd’s itself, by agreement with the syndicates that had subscribed to the policy. In the meantime, the limitation period in which the plaintiff could have issued proceedings against the actual syndicates lapsed.
In a very clear judgment the Ljubljana High Court accepted Lloyd’s defence and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, noting that Lloyd’s itself was not a party to the insurance policy, but is an “insurance market in which insured person, through brokers and agents, seek and conclude insurance contracts with syndicates as the underwriters.
Andrew Tobin and Alannah Williams of Mills & Reeve were instructed by various syndicates led by Riverstone, and by Lloyd’s itself, working with Minu A. Gvardjancic and Ursa Jerman of Ketler & Partners, member of Karanovic in Slovenia.
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