The UK food-to-go and coffee chain claims it is entitled to as much as £150m from Zurich Insurance due to numerous business interruptions during the pandemic
Greggs argued it had been subject to at least 120 announcements and regulations over the course of the pandemic | Photo credit: Greggs
UK food-to-go and coffee chain Greggs has won a landmark ruling in its legal battle over a £150m ($170m) insurance claim triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greggs initiated legal action against Zurich Insurance PLC in July 2022 over the payment of claims related to business interruption losses suffered during the pandemic.
High Court judge, Mr Justice Butcher, has now ruled that there was a single occurrence at the outset of pandemic restrictions in March 2020, followed by separate occurrences in each jurisdiction of the UK as the levels of restrictions were adjusted between May 2020 and May 2021.
The court also ruled that there were separate occurrences within each jurisdiction where local lockdowns or other restrictions had been imposed.
Lawyers for Greggs stated that every outlet suffered some trading interruption or interference due to government lockdowns put in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. Greggs argued it had been subject to at least 120 announcements and regulations over the course of the pandemic.
Zurich Insurance had contended that all of Greggs’ business interruption losses during the pandemic could be attributed to or were in connection with a ‘single occurrence’ and paid the food-to-go and coffee chain £2.5m ($2.8m) in January 2021.
Subject to appeal, Zurich Insurance and Greggs will now calculate the value of the business interruption losses recoverable under Greggs’ policy.
“This outcome vindicates Greggs commencing proceedings and has wider implications for all businesses that purchased the Resilience Insurance policies. Insurers’ argument that there was only one limit available for Covid business interruption losses has been firmly rejected,” said Manoj Vaghela, a Parter at Charles Russell Speechlys, the law firm representing Greggs.
Greggs was forced to temporarily close and restrict trading at more than 2,200 stores during several lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
Greggs also saw sales fall 30% in the first year of the pandemic, from £1.17bn ($1.3bn) in 2019 to £811m ($917m) in 2020.
The outcome could not only cost Zurich Insurance tens of millions more than it argued was its legal responsibility, but could also pave the way for similar lawsuits.