This is the first edition of The Insurance Disputes Law Review. I am delighted to be the editor of this excellent and succinct overview of recent developments in insurance disputes across 16 important insurance jurisdictions.
Insurance is a vital part of the world's economy and critical to risk management in both the commercial and private worlds. The law that has developed to govern the rights and obligations of those using this essential product can often be complex and challenging, with the legal system of each jurisdiction seeking to strike the right balance between the interests of insurer and insured and also the regulator who seeks to police the market. Perhaps more than any other area of law, insurance law can represent a fusion of traditional concepts that are almost unique to this area of law and entrepreneurial development, as insurers strive to create new products to adapt to our changing world. This makes for a fast-developing area, with many traps for the unwary. Further, as this indispensable book shows, even where the concepts are similar in most jurisdictions, they can be implemented and interpreted with very important differences in different jurisdictions.
To be as user-friendly as possible, each chapter follows the same format – first providing an overview of the key framework for dealing with disputes, and then giving an update of recent developments in disputes.
As editor I have been impressed by the erudition of each author and their enthusiasm for this fascinating area. It has also been particularly interesting to note the trends that are developing in each jurisdiction. A strong theme in almost every jurisdiction is the increase in protections for policyholders. Much of the special nature of insurance law developed from an imbalance in knowledge between the policyholder (who had historically been blessed with much greater knowledge of the risk to be insured) and the insurer (who knew less and therefore had to rely on the duties of disclosure of the policyholder). With the modern era of Big Data and more detailed scope for analysis across risk portfolios, the balance of knowledge has shifted; it will often now be the insurer who is better placed to assess the risk. This shift has manifested itself in tighter rules upon insurers to be specific in the questions to be answered by policyholders when they place insurance and in more targeted remedies to the insurer if full information is not provided, with variable remedies now imposed rather than insurers being able to resort to the nuclear option of rejection of the entire policy. The evolution of rules around motor insurance in each jurisdiction also reveals an area of continuous important change.
No matter how carefully formulated, no legal system functions without effective mechanisms to hear and resolve disputes. Each chapter therefore also usefully considers the mechanisms for dispute resolution in each jurisdiction. Courts appear to remain the principal mechanism but arbitration and less formal mechanisms (such as the Financial Ombudsman in the United Kingdom) can be a significant force for efficiency and change when functioning properly.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the contributing practitioners represented in The Insurance Disputes Law Review. Their biographies are to be found on page 159 and highlight the wealth of experience and learning that they bring to this volume. I must also thank Russell Butland, who is a senior associate with my firm and a highly talented lawyer. He has done much of the hard work in this project, together with Benjamin Scrace and Oliver Troen, who helped enormously in the research and liaison with our co-contributors.
Finally, I would also like to thank the whole team at Law Business Research who have excelled at bringing the project to fruition and in adding a professional look and more coherent finish to the contributions.