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The Never-Ending Story? Allianz Pushes Back on JD Williams’ Counterclaim Over PPI Damages

Away from COVID-19, in a claim going through the High Court, Allianz Insurance PLC (“Allianz“) v. J.D. Williams & Co. Ltd. (“JDW“), Allianz has contested JDW’s attempt to counterclaim for PPI pay-outs it made to customers.

Allianz argues that JDW was an experienced seller of add-on insurance products and knew the risks.

Background

Allianz’s dispute with JDW is centred on a mutual arrangement between June 1985 and April 2015. This involved JDW selling general insurance policies to its retail customers that were underwritten by Allianz for risks associated with its catalogue business and customer credit.

Following complaints from JDW’s customers that they were mis-sold PPI, the Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS”) decided in 2013 that it did not have jurisdiction over JDW and assigned Allianz responsibility for responding to the PPI complaints.

The insurer then had to pay out a total of £27 million in redress to JDW’s customers when the FOS ruled that they were mis-sold PPI.

Dispute

Allianz filed Court proceedings in January 2020, and is suing JDW over the £27 million it paid out in respect of mis-sold PPI claims to JDW’s customers.

Allianz alleges that JDW breached its duty to exercise reasonable skill when it sold PPI to customers who took out store credit between 1985 and 2005. The retailer also sold product protection and life and death insurance on behalf of Allianz to its customers, which Allianz alleges created an influx of claims for mis-selling.

Counterclaim

JDW launched a counterclaim for the amount it paid out in PPI claims prior to 2005, arguing that Allianz is equally liable. Allianz says that JDW was obliged under an indemnity agreement to handle and pay redress on complaints for sales up to 2005, before any of those complaints reached the FOS. JDW, has denied any such agreement or binding understanding.

JDW have pointed to a script provided by Allianz for the sale of insurance products stating that Allianz “knew or ought to have known better” than the retailer of the potential harm customers were exposed to through the arrangements. However, Allianz contests the assertion that “JDW was solely a ‘retail business’” insisting instead that, “JDW was a credit provider and insurance broker subject to regulation in the context of the provision of consumer credit.” According to Allianz, “[JDW] was experienced in the sale of add-on products such as insurance, and its experience had developed over the many decades that it sold insurance products.”

Allianz have further argued that JDW cannot seek a contribution under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 as the pay-outs were not made pursuant to a redress scheme, but on a voluntary basis to any customers who held insurance products.

Comment

The PPI saga lives on evidenced by this ongoing dispute and indeed many more across the country. Given lenders have now paid more than £50 billion in compensation in Britain’s costliest retail financial scandal, it is no surprise insurers are quick to defend any attempt to shift liability onto them.

If you would like to read more on this topic, we have previously reported on the rise of PPI claims in our blog here.

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© Copyright 2021 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 114
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About this Author

Garon Anthony Litigation Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Birmingham, UK
Partner

Garon is a partner in the Litigation Practice Group. He advises clients across the full range of commercial dispute issues, including cyber liability/data breach, professional negligence, banking, pensions and insurance.

Garon regularly acts for clients who are subject to investigations or disciplinary proceedings by national and international regulators, including most recently the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Reporting Council and the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

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44 121 222 3507
Sarah Neill Commercial Litigation Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Birmingham, UK
Associate

Sarah Neill qualified into the Commercial Litigation team in September 2019 after completing her training contract with the firm. During her time in the team, Sarah has assisted on a wide variety of disputes, including breach of warranty, product liability, debt recovery and breach of contract. Sarah acts for a diverse client base, from individuals to PLCs.

44 121-222-3047
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