In 2018 the Celle Higher Regional Court ruled on a claim for cover against a liability insurer relating to a fire on a yacht that had also damaged other items. The judgment confirms – and well illustrates – the so-called 'separation principle' applicable under German liability insurance law. Liability insurers may learn from this judgment that careful consideration must be given to the reasons for which cover is denied; they could be forced to cover and indemnify for unjustified liability claims.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament recently passed an act whereby insurers, under certain circumstances, despite non-payment of an insurance premium, are temporarily prohibited from either terminating the insurance contract or refusing cover. Further, the act grants consumers and micro-enterprises a temporary right to refuse performance in the context of contracts for essential continuing obligations, including insurance contracts.
German law provides several circumstances in which the limitation period in an insurance coverage dispute may be suspended, subject to the case facts. However, to avoid the risk of an insurance claim becoming time barred, assureds should pursue claims diligently. A recent case before the Dresden Higher Regional Court is a useful reminder that suspending limitation periods due to negotiations requires that the insurer is actively involved in the matter.
Federal Court of Justice case law suggests that, in multimodal transport cases, voyages always have a series of sections and there are no stages without sections. However, a recent Hamburg Regional Court decision suggests that there may be transport stages in a multimodal transport system that cannot be attributed to a particular section.
In its capacity as a court for inland navigation, the Mannheim District Court recently settled a dispute between an inland waterway carrier and a sender. The sender had instructed the carrier on short notice and despite the express statement by the carrier that its vessel was not yet available. According to the court's interpretation of the transport contract, the flexibility agreed in respect of loading readiness was to be understood as an exemption of liability for late delivery.
A tanker barge was anchored in an area where anchoring was prohibited. During a manoeuvre, the vessel ran aground and was secured with an anchor, blocking the marina entrance and preventing the claimants' vessels from leaving the marina. The claimants claimed damages on the basis of Section 823 of the Civil Code, asserting that their property had been interfered with.