On 11th March, the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators hosted a Webinar titled “Arbitration in the Face of a Global Pandemic”.
The speakers were Mr Ben Lynch QC, a highly regarded commercial silk; Mr Brett Davey, the Founder and Managing Director of Insurance, Consultants & Experts Pte Ltd, an insurance veteran with over 35 years of underwriting experience within London and Asia-Pacific; and Mr Simon Goh, a partner and Head of the Insurance and Reinsurance Practice Group at Rajah and Tann Singapore LLP. The Moderator was Ms Tan Weiyi a partner in the Litigation and Dispute Management Practice Group at Harry Elias Partnership LLP.
Mr Ben Lynch QC discussed the English case of Financial Conduct Authority v Arch Insurance (UK) Limited and Ors  UKSC 1 in which he acted as counsel. The topic was highly pertinent given an upheaval of the insurance industry worldwide due to the prevalence of Non-Damage Business Interruption claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. The talk was enlightening as it canvassed interpretation of various common insurance clauses; considered how Trend clauses could be interpreted in the context of a disruptive force on a global scale; Disease clauses; Hybrid clauses; Prevention of Access clauses; and the application of the doctrine of causation in such circumstances. Mr Simon Goh discussed, amongst others, the application of the case to the Singaporean context and the latest COVID-19 regulations in Singapore and how it could affect insurance contracts, and section 55(1) of the Marine Insurance Act (Cap 387, 1994 Rev Ed). Mr Brett Davey discussed the practical implications of insurers faced with a deluge of Non-Damage Business Interruption claims, to which governmental assistance acts as a safety net. In relation to this, he suggested the containment of such novel risks through the creation of new risk markets, as in the case of Cybersecurity insurance.
The talks were then followed by a lively Q&A session where the speakers dealt with a wide range of both practical and legal questions from the participants, including whether the doctrine of frustration can be invoked by insurance companies, and whether Business Interruption coverage in the context of pandemics would be applicable in Singapore.
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Carolyn Tan - Tan & Au LLP