On the 5th of July, 2011the “BRILLANTE VIRTUOSO” (the “Vessel”) was damaged by fire as a result of an incident of hijacking that was alleged to have occurred in the Gulf of Aden. The incident led to a claim against the Vessel’s war risk strategy through Suez Fortune Investments Limited (“SFIL”) (the Vessel’s owner company) as well as Piraeus Bank A.E., the mortgagee of the vessel (the “Bank”) in the grounds it was a claim that Vessel was a genuine total loss. In 2016 The High Court found that Mr. Iliopoulos, the beneficial owner of the vessel (the “Owner”), was in violation of the order of the court to supply his solicitors with the electronic archives of his documents. In the end, the High Court struck out SFIL’s claim. With SFIL being barred from pursuing the claim and the Bank which was co-assured by the policy moved the claim into court.
The Bank stated it was the case that loss to the vessel was the result of one or more of the insured perils, specifically, criminals, or those acting in a malicious manner or in sabotage or vandalism barratry or capture, seizure arrest, restraint or detention. The defendant sub-contractors to the war (the “Underwriters”) claim in which the damage was caused by the willful negligence of the owner who, in conjunction with the assistance from the chief engineer and chief engineer, planned a fake pirate assault on the Vessel and also the deliberate igniting of a fire aboard. Underwriters argued that the misconduct for the benefit of the owner was not covered under the policy of the Bank due to the fact that in these circumstances, the loss wasn’t caused by an insured risk.
In addition, the Underwriters raised a variety alternatives to defend, such as breach of warranty provisions in the policy on limits on navigation and a violation of the BMP3 (Industry Best Management Practices) in relation to measures against piracy which resulted in the protection provided pursuant to the agreement was halted.BRILLANTE VIRTUOSO
Conclusions of facts
In his decision in his decision, the judge, Mr. Justice Teare found that there was no ” an explanation that is plausible for the events that occurred to BRILLANTE VIRTUOSO which is in line to an honest explanation”. The judge was with no doubt about the following conclusions:The armed crew who boarded the Vessel were pretending to be pirates, and did not intend to hijack the Vessel to demand ransom. They wanted to start the fire using an explosive device that they brought aboard at the request of the owner. The master, chief engineer, and the local salvage company that helped the Vessel were all complicit in the scheme of fraud. It was believed that Mr. Iliopoulos was the instigator of the plot. The motive behind the conspiracy was to create an untrue claim of the loss total of the Vessel which was approximately US$77 million. funds that could aid his business and him in the financial problems they faced during the incident. In the absence of insurance, there is a peril.
The Bank asserted it was one outcomes of its status as a co-assured under an insurance policy that was a composite with an insurance contract that was separate was that ” in the sense that, as far as that the Bank is concerned the Owners’ reckless infraction was a crime of a pirate because the the Bank’s stake with respect to the insurance vessel was due to an attack violently on that interest motivated by the desire for personal gains”.
The decision provides a detailed examination regarding the concept of “piracy” within the context of marine insurance. The judge emphasized that in order for an act to constitute piratery, it’s not enough that it is a criminal act at sea. The behavior must be one the businessperson believes constitutes the crime of piracy. The judge concluded that “a businessman would claim that there was not an pirate attack, and that the armed men simply pretending that they were pirates [..] and that Mr. Iliopoulos, who authorised the actions of the armed men wasn’t a pirate, but was a shipowner looking to fraud those who underwrote his insurance”.