Court of Appeal addresses “experience of insurance or reinsurance” for the purposes of appointing an arbitrator

In Allianz Insurance PLC & Ors v Tonicstar Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 434, the Court of Appeal decided that, under an arbitration clause requiring the appointed arbitrators to have “not less than ten years’ experience of insurance or reinsurance”, a barrister specialising in insurance and reinsurance law for over 10 years satisfied the requirement. This reversed the earlier decision of the High Court (see previous post), which had interpreted the clause in question to require experience working in the industry itself, which did not include experience in working as a professional adviser to the industry or experience of insurance or reinsurance law.

The Court of Appeal noted that it is because the practical and legal aspects of insurance and reinsurance are so intertwined that both market professionals and lawyers who have specialised in the field for many years are commonly appointed as arbitrators in insurance and reinsurance disputes. If the intention was to restrict the parties’ freedom of choice by excluding a barrister or solicitor who had specialised in the field of insurance and reinsurance for more than 10 years from eligibility, a clear expression of that intention would be needed.

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