ICA calls SCA Café Chameleon decision a precedent
DURBAN - Specialisyt public loss adjuster Insurance Claims Africa (ICA) has welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision in favour of insurance claimant, Café Chameleon, citing that legal certainty had been established.
ICA chief executive Ryan Woolley said the Café Chameleon ruling against Guardrisk was a significant win for an industry that had suffered tremendous losses.
“As South Africa faces a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, hope of survival is fast evaporating for many of these businesses who were counting on the summer holidays to carry them through to 2021. The latest statistics show that Cape Town hotel occupancy is sitting at a devastating 18 percent. The rest of the country is in a similar position.
“Without urgent payouts from insurers, many doors are going to close and many more thousands of jobs are going to be decimated. The time has come for insurers to stop hiding behind their legal teams, and to honour their customers’ claims. We call for immediate resolution of all valid claims,” said Woolley.
The Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal, ordering Guardrisk to settle Café Chameleon’s full claim and legal costs.
The judgement categorically stated that the government’s imposition of a lockdown in response to multiple outbreaks of Covid-19, throughout the country, and predominantly in Cape Town, where Café Chameleon’s operates its business, was covered by the infectious diseases clause.
The judgement further stated it was fortified by much of the reasoning in the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority test case and two recent judgements of the Western Cape High Court: Ma-Afrika Hotels and Another v Santam and Interfax and Another v Old Mutual.
The SCA judgement was seen as a precedent setting for all other business interruption insurance cases being heard in lower courts across the country, as well as in the Ma-Afrika vs Santam appeal.
The ICA said it again applauded South Africa’s Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) in their approach to these claims and asked that they again support them in the request for these claims to be settled without delay.
Commenting on the SCA decision, attorney for Café Chameleon, Ren Dunster, said that he and his client, Nico Schoeman, were thrilled with the judgement.
“We applaud the urgency and clarity with which the judges dealt with the matter. We are privileged to have such a strong judiciary in South Africa,” said Dunster.
Ma-Afrika Hotels chairperson and chief executive André Pieterse called on Santam Insurance to forgo their attempt to further delay payment of claims and to withdraw their application for a right to appeal the Full Bench decision of the Cape High Court, wherein Santam Insurance lost its case against Ma-Afrika Hotels.
The ICA said that the tourism and hospitality sector sustained more than 740 000 direct and 1.5 million indirect jobs, and contributes 8.6 percent to the South African economy.