The commercial court of Évry (Essonne) ordered Axa to compensate a manager of six restaurants in Essonne for his operating losses linked to the Covid-19 epidemic.
By this decision rendered Thursday, and consulted on Saturday by AFP, the court ordered the insurer to pay a provision of 475,000 euros to the plaintiff pending the final quantification of its operating losses via a forensic assessment.
The restaurateur manages six restaurants located in Essonne, under the franchise of a large pizzeria brand.
He had taken out “professional multi-risk insurance” with Axa, including the possibility of compensation for operating losses.
In its contract, the insurer stipulated that operating losses were excluded from its guarantee when "at least one other establishment" in the department is "the subject of an administrative measure for an identical cause".
The "ambiguity" of the cause
The commercial court of Évry considered that the clause not to cover financial losses in the event of an epidemic, had an "ambiguous character" and considered that "the declared claim is guaranteed by the insurance policy" taken out from Axa.
Regarding this clause, Axa "says its contractual clause complies with the provisions of the Insurance Code", according to the judgment.
Axa, which intends to appeal, will have to pay a total of 475,500 euros in provision to the manager, pending an expertise which will refine the amounts.
On February 12, reacting to a conviction for the same reason, the management of Axa had “deplored” to AFP that “for strictly identical contracts, the various commercial courts in France render contradictory judgments”.
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"These judgments lead to a detrimental judicial confusion and arouse unfounded hope", argues the insurance company, while waiting for "the courts of appeal can as quickly as possible establish a clear and stable case law.
“Since the beginning of the year, Axa has already been condemned several times to compensate restaurateurs such as Lille, Lyon and Marseille.
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"This trend is explained in my opinion for a large part by the modification by Axa of its guarantee terms from last September through an" rider "offered to policyholders formally excluding the epidemic", explained Me Philippe Meilhac, lawyer for the restaurateur.