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HFW hosts FI insurance seminar

23 April 2013

On 23 April 2013, leading international law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) hosted the first in a series of seminars in London to discuss the (re)insurance claims environment and current pitfalls for financial institution insurers in the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Israel and the UAE.

Whilst there are peculiarities to each country in terms of the legal environment, the challenges which insurers face are remarkably similar. Several of the speakers when talking of Sweden and Switzerland noted that policies are likely to be interpreted as to their intent rather than the “black letter”; leading to policies being redrawn in defiance of the expectations of at least one party. However, whilst underwriters cannot completely legislate for these interpretational responses, there are a number of simple steps they can take to ensure that the policies are given their full terms and effect. For example, in the UAE, the failure to have an insured sign the policy document means that insurers cannot rely on the terms, conditions and exclusions.

As for the United Kingdom, the main theme arising was increasing regulatory liabilities. Such liabilities are being imposed on banks through blanket findings by the regulator (for example, interest rate swaps) where there has been no forensic examination of the claims made by the customers and no hard and fast reference to the law, but to Codes of Conduct and industry practice. Liabilities are therefore being ascribed to banks (which involve a multitude of variables, only one of which might be a legal liability) and, absent any challenge, the banks are seeking to transfer these losses to insurers.

John Barlow, HFW Partner and an expert in FI insurance, commented: “Given the still weakened state of the banks and the multitude of claims which are arising, it is no wonder that policy wordings are undergoing significant scrutiny. The situation in the UK increasingly raises the question as to what risks should be (and can be) transferred to insurers and what risks should remain with the bank.”

Seminar speakers

  • UK – John Barlow, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan LLP
  • Sweden – Johan Strömberg, Partner, Nordia Law
  • Switzerland – Christoph Graber and Christian Lang, Partners, Prager Dreifuss
  • Israel – Rachel Levitan and Dror Zamir, Partners, Levitan, Sharon & Co
  • UAE – Sam Wakerley, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan Middle East LLP

For further information, please contact Tania Phayre, Head of Marketing Communications, on +44 (0)20 7264 8546 or

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