Round one to Central in riot case
The Central Group has won the preliminary court's support for its damages claim against Deves Insurance, heightening the chance that it would win Bt3.8 billion compensation for the arson attack on CentralWorld during the political unrest in 2010.The lawsuit was filed on December 16, 2011 by four plaintiffs - Thai Business Fund 4, Central Pattana, CentralWorld Co Ltd and Central Department Store Co Ltd.
Central Pattana (CPN) yesterday disclosed the Civil Court had ruled that Deves Insurance must pay the compensation plus interest of 7.5 per cent per annum from March 31, 2011. Deves Insurance was also asked to pay legal expenses of Bt60,000 to the group.
Of the total claim, the plaintiffs demanded Bt2.7 billion for property damage and another Bt990 million for loss of income as CentralWorld was closed from May 19 to September 28, 2010, while Zen Department Store was just reopened in January this year. Deves Insurance is entitled to appeal the judgement within 30 days and such period may be extended on the court's discretion.
"We're happy with the ruling but the battle will take a long time until the case is finally through," said a source from Central Pattana, who asked not to be named. "It will take a long time."
The Civil Court yesterday ruled that the fire was not an act of terrorism or other causes, exempted by the all-risk insurance policy.
Central Group and its insurer have so far differed on the cause of the fire. Following the fires set at the end of an anti-government rally in May 2010, many businesses in the Ratchaprasong and nearby areas were affected. According to the Office of Insurance Commission, 30 companies in the affected areas have insurance policies for a combined coverage of Bt137 billion, but only 1 per cent of the cover is for riot damage. The Office also said that of all affected businesses, only Central Pattana had bought a business-interruption insurance policy. The group's all-risk insurance policy's total coverage is Bt13.2 billion.
The affected businesses have so far fought for compensation, as insurance companies have insisted that fire caused by riots was not covered by the insurance policies. The Abhisit Vejjajiva government had then described militant demonstrators as terrorists and attributed the fires to an act of terrorism.
Central Group said in the lawsuit that the all-risk insurance policy does not cover damage caused directly or indirectly by riots, but it covers damage from fire - even though it was directly or indirectly caused by an act of terrorism.
It believes that the damage should be covered by it's all-risk policy, while Deves Insurance has argued that it should be claimed under CPN's Terrorism Insurance policy, which was provided by other insurers.
Deves Insurance said in a statement that it is ready to shoulder the payment, when the case is finally through. It is confident such payment would not affect the company financially, given the involvement of many reinsurers.