Insurers’ Liability in Clinical Negligence in Group Action Limited to 10 Million

Insurance policies are often difficult to understand and are not always clear which is why the Courts frequently have to make rulings on them. In the following case, a medical company were trying to resolve a multi-million-pound claim for more than 700 operations that were completed by a breast surgeon and later deemed to be unnecessary, medically negligent or wholly inappropriate.

The company owned a hospital which the breast surgeon worked at privately. At some point the surgeon was found to have carried out many operations unnecessarily or had made mistakes, amongst other issues, and a number of former patients sought compensation. The liability of the company was deemed by the court to be £26,950,000.  A further £37 million to be paid by others.

The insurance company pointed to the policy which limited their liability to £10 million as specified. The company were not satisfied and started proceedings.

The company said there was a large number of claimants and each should be considered individually whereas the insurers viewed it as a single claim. The Court of Appeal agreed with the insurers and noted that the wording of the insurance policy was clear and they had acted within its remit by treating this as a single claim with liability limited to £10 million.

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