Aidan O’Brien was successful in a Summary Judgment application for a Defendant insurer. The Defendant insurer had provided house insurance for a number of properties owned by the Claimant landlord. In 2008, Police raided three of the insured properties and discovered that they had been converted into cannabis farms. The tenants were all of Vietnamese origin and had successfully fled after the raids.
The Claimant initially made a claim under the insurance policy for significant damage to each property caused by the tenants. This claim was repudiated by the Defendant on the basis of an exclusion clause which exempted damage caused by ‘malicious persons lawfully permitted on the premises’.
Subsequently, an individual who was not a named tenant of any of the properties was convicted in relation to the farms. The Claimant thereafter sought to argue, inter alia, that the convicted individual had sub-let the properties and was therefore not in lawful possession of the premises as the head lease prohibited sub-letting.
Aidan successfully argued that the exclusion clause would bite irrespective of the existence of any sub-lease (the existence of which was disputed) as the sub-tenant would still be ‘lawfully permitted’ on the premises even if the original tenants had breached the terms of the head lease. Any illegality operated vis-à-vis the lease entered into between the original tenants and the landlord rather than the tenants and the sub-tenant.
The application was granted along with substantial costs in the Defendant’s favour.