U.K. Court: U.S. sanctions do not relieve insurers of their obligation to pay

Thoroughly enjoyed collaborating last year with colleagues at Reed Smith LLP and 7KBW Barristers as an expert witness in an economic sanctions case before the U.K. Commercial Royal Courts of Justice. 7KBW Barristers acted for the successful insured in expedited proceedings brought against various Lloyd’s syndicates for an indemnity under a marine cargo insurance policy arising out of the loss of cargoes shipped to Iran in 2012.

From 7KBW Barristers:

The defendant insurers resisted liability on the basis that payment “would expose” them to sanction, prohibition or restriction under the sanctions, laws or regulations of the US and/or the EU, within the meaning of a standard London market sanctions clause. 

The trial was determined on an expedited basis because (as regards the insurers owned or controlled by a US parent) there was a narrow window in which (on the insured’s case) payment could lawfully be made.  This was the result of President Trump’s recent decision to end the US’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) and to re-impose multi-lateral sanctions targeting Iran.  

That decision was subject to a wind down provision pursuant to which relevant sanctions upon inter alia the payment of insurance claims will not be re-imposed until 11:59 pm eastern standard time on 4 November 2018. 

The judgment is embedded: