Gardner v Lemma Europe Insurance Co Ltd 24/5/16 (CA)

A judge had correctly refused to lift a stay on UK proceedings against an insurer in liquidation to enable an insured solicitor to bring proceedings against it. The solicitor contended that a letter issued in 2009 amounted to a claim and that its defence costs should be met as well as those for related disciplinary proceedings. The clients’ letter had not amounted to a claim. It did not meet the requirements of the definition of claim and had had not articulated an intention to bring proceedings for negligence, but rather sought disclosure of files which would inform that decision. The solicitor was unable to demonstrate that the disciplinary proceedings had arisen from that claim. The choice in terms of resolving the dispute was between a Gibraltar judge exercising a supervisory jurisdiction over the liquidation and an arbitration in London under the terms of the policy. The fact that the parties to the policy had elected arbitration in England was not sufficient to justify the stay. In the absence of any challenge to the competence of the courts of the relevant jurisdiction to determine the dispute in the liquidation, the need to preserve the estate for the creditors’ benefit outweighed the contractual right of the insured to have his claim determined in England.