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QBE business interruption test case set for July

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QBE’s business interruption test case involving Educational World Travel and Victorian property law is set to be heard by the Federal Court in July.

Chief Justice James Allsop has set aside July 22 and part of the following day to hear arguments after a preliminary case management hearing scheduled for May 31.

QBE had previously sought to have the case run alongside the Insurance Council of Australia’s (ICA) second test case, also filed through the Federal Court. ICA has indicated a hearing is likely in the first half of September, with any appeal to be dealt with in the first week of November.

“In the interests of our customers and obtaining speedy resolution of the business interruption issues which arise in the QBE case, QBE has accepted a late July hearing date,” a spokeswoman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“QBE is hopeful that the outcomes of all test cases by year end will provide greater clarity to both customers and insurers alike and establish a path forward to manage these claims.”

The case involves a potential $2.3 million claim by the liquidators of Educational World Travel, a firm that has organised school trips to destinations including North America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

The action is in relation to section 61A of the Property Law Act 1958 (Vic), which insurers suggest has the effect that references to the repealed Quarantine Act should be construed as references to the Biosecurity Act.

In the ICA’s first test case the NSW Court of Appeal found that policy wording references to the Quarantine Act 1908 and subsequent amendments could not be taken as including the replacement Biosecurity Act. Appeal arguments may be heard by the High Court as early as next month.

The second ICA test case will look at the definition of a disease, proximity of an outbreak to a business, and prevention of access to premises due to a government mandate, as well as policies that contain a hybrid of wordings.