High Court approves €8m payment from State fund over Setanta liquidation

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The president of the High Court has approved a payment of more than €8.3m out of the State’s Insurance Compensation Fund arising from the liquidation of Maltese-registered insurer Setanta.

The payment is to meet the cost of awards or settlements relating to 263 claims made against various Setanta policies and is the fifth such payment out of the fund since Setanta went into liquidation in 2014.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly also this week approved a payment of €3.4m out of the ICF arising from the liquidation in October 2016 of another insurer, Enterprise Insurance plc, registered in Gibraltar.

When it went into liquidation, Enterprise had 760,000 policy holders, most in the UK but including 49,925 policies issued in Ireland. This week's payment out of the ICF is the first concerning Enterprise and relates to 196 claims.

Both applications for approval were made by Andrew Walker BL, for the State Claims Agency (SCA).

Mr Justice Kelly said he wanted to compliment the comprehensive nature of the paperwork provided by the SCA and by the liquidators of both insurers in seeking the approval.

The paperwork clearly set out the basis for the payments due and how those are calculated, he told Mr Walker.

The judge also granted counsel’s application to approve some €36,591 legal costs and expenses incurred in bringing various applications under the Insurance Acts arising from the Setanta liquidation. That sum is included in the €8.3m total to be paid from the ICF.

Those costs appeared “perfectly reasonable” in the context of the work involved and he was fortified in that view by the opinion of a legal costs accountant, the judge said.

In an affidavit supporting the SCA application concerning Setanta, that firm's liquidator, Paul Mercicea, noted the Irish courts have held the Setanta claims are to be dealt with by way of access to the ICF.

He was advised the equivalent compensation fund in Malta is not available to address the claims against Setanta policies, Mr Mercicea said.

Based on the information currently available to him, he expected to be able to meet less than 22 per cent of the 263 claims subject of the SCA application out of the assets of the liquidation and he was thus supporting the SCA application.

It is intended to bring a series of similar applications until all live claims which qualify for access to the fund have been addressed, he added.

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