The High Court has ruled that four pub owners are entitled to be compensated by insurer FBD for the disruption their businesses suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The outcome of which affects claims made by more than 1,000 Irish pubs and restaurants, the judge found that a policy sold by FBD covered losses the pubs sustained by having to close due to the global health emergency.

The four test actions were taken by Aberken Ltd, trading as Sinnotts Bar; Hyper Trust Ltd, trading as The Leopardstown Inn; and Inn on Hibernian Way Ltd trading as Lemon & Duke. The fourth action was taken by Leinster Overview Concepts Ltd the owner of Sean’s Bar, which is based in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

The dispute arose after the insurer refused to provide policyholders with cover after the pandemic resulted in the first temporary closure of businesses, in mid-March 2020.

Their lawyers claimed that under their insurance policies they were entitled to have their losses caused by the pandemic covered.

FBD disputed the claims and argued that the closures did not occur as a result of an outbreak of disease at the premises or areas where the pubs are located. In a lengthy and detailed judgment delivered in early February, the judge disagreed with FBD’s interpretation of its policy.

More than 1,000 firms have similar policies with FBD and the result will also be of interest to those taking claims against other insurers. FBD set aside €30m to cover any costs arising from the outcome of the case.

The judge ruled the issue of quantifying the losses suffered by the publicans will be dealt with at a later date. The case will be back before the court on 17 February.

FBD said today’s judgment provides much needed clarity to all concerned. In a statement, the insurer said it was committed to paying valid claims from Public House insurance policyholders and will endeavour to process claims as quickly as possible and in line with the judgment handed down.

The insurer also said it believes that the court process was the fairest way to reach a resolution in this matter, adding that it tried to ensure that proceedings were as quick and efficient as possible for all concerned.

NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website, or email