Setanta Insurance update - Court of Appeal judgment

03/03/2016

The Court of Appeal ruled on 2 March 2016 that the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) is potentially liable to pay out in respect of claimants who were insured with Setanta Insurance Company Limited at the time of its liquidation in April 2014.

This news has been welcomed by the Law Society of Ireland. “A route to justice has been provided for people who have suffered injury and loss through the fault of drivers insured with an insurance company that has gone into liquidation,” said Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society.

Court of Appeal judgment

The Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld the High Court judgment of Mr Justice Hedigan, finding that the MIBI is potentially liable to pay court awards and settlements to people who would otherwise be paid by Setanta Insurance.

The judgment “confirmed both what the insurance industry’s agreement with the State requires and what simple justice demands,” said Ken Murphy. “Over the last two years we have heard many first-hand accounts of claimants, in Setanta cases, who have suffered life-changing injury and loss. It is good news for these accident victims, and for justice itself, that a route to securing their rights has now been opened.”

Read the judgments of President Ryan, Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice Hogan via the links below.

For more information, see the Law Society of Ireland's press release of 2 March.

The Law Society recommends that anyone affected by cases involving Setanta Insurance Limited speak to their solicitor to discuss the implications of this judgment for them.

Background

Setanta Insurance Company Limited entered liquidation in April 2014, leaving a number of drivers without insurance, and many victims of accidents involving these drivers not knowing whether their legitimate claims would be paid.

The Law Society has long argued that, under the terms of its agreement with the State, the MIBI was potentially liable to pay court awards and settlements where the insolvent insurer would otherwise be liable. The MIBI claimed that it was only liable to compensate victims of uninsured and untraced drivers.

In 2015 the former President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, directed that the Law Society of Ireland should act as the claimant while the MIBI should be the respondent in the case. In September 2015, Mr Justice Hedigan of the High Court confirmed that the MIBI has a liability in respect of claims against the policyholders of the insolvent insurance company, Setanta. This judgement was appealed by the MIBI, and legal arguments in the case were heard in January 2016 by President Ryan, Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice Hogan of the Court of Appeal. Their ruling of 2 March 2016 upholds Mr Justice Hedigan's judgment.