Gooda names win in court

The crisis at the Lloyd's of London insurance market deepened yesterday as a result of developments in two legal cases being brought by names, the individuals who pledge their wealth to pay trading losses.

A Court of Appeal ruling means that 3,000 litigating names on Gooda Walker syndicates, who have been awarded up to £560m to compensate them for the negligence of their Lloyd's agents, are at last to see some money being paid out.

Meanwhile, 2,200 more names have started a legal action against Lloyd's itself in which they claim they are not obliged to pay their share of the £8bn losses reported in the last four years.

The Gooda Walker names won their legal fight for compensation last October, but could not be paid immediately because names involved in other negligence cases argued that the money available to meet awards should not be tapped until after all Lloyd's cases have finished.

One of the Appeal Court judges, Sir Thomas Bingham, Master of the Rolls, said yesterday: "There is obvious hardship for plaintiff names if, having obtained favourable judgments at very great expense, they are denied the fruits of their judgment, perhaps facing bankruptcy."

The Appeal Court judgment upholds an earlier High Court ruling. The case is unlikely to go to the House of Lords.

Michael Deeny, chairman of the Gooda Walker Action Group, called on Lloyd's to settle all litigation in a market-wide out-of-court settlement.

Some 2,200 names belonging to the Writs Response Group have issued new legal proceedings against Lloyd's itself in which they claim they should not be obliged to meet their £1bn of losses caused, they say, by Lloyd's breaching European competition law.

The writ follows a Court of Appeal ruling last October that a similar case being brought by a single name, known as the Clementsen case, should go for a full trial in the Commercial Court next October. The Clementsen case has prevented Lloyd's from recovering debts from names.