Leeds Beckett University v Travelers Insurance Company Ltd

Citation: [2017] EWHC 558 (TCC)

Following the emergence of cracks in an accommodation block, the University decided to demolish the building and sought to recover its losses under a property damage all risk insurance policy. Travelers Insurance denied that it was liable to pay out under the policy. The building had been built over an historic watercourse, and the sulphates flowing in the water had disintegrated the supporting concrete blocks to ‘mush’. Coulson J stated that insurance policies covering ‘accidental damage’ would not cover events which were inevitable. On the facts, the ‘event’ which caused the damage could not be classified as a flood (as the University had contended), and given the way the building was constructed it was inevitable that the supporting concrete blocks would fail. The damage to the building was, therefore, not accidental damage, and was not covered by the policy. In the alternative, and assuming that the damage was accidental, Coulson J considered whether the cause of the damage was excluded by the policy. It was held that the blocks had ‘gradually deteriorated’, and that the design was ‘faulty and defective’, and both of these causes meant that the damage (if accidental) was excluded under the policy.

Marcus Taverner QC acted for the successful Defendant.

Leeds Beckett v Travelers Insurance Judgment

Counsel

Marcus Taverner QC

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