High Court claim demands damages are paid

An insurer is being sued for £1.3m after a café rear wall collapsed and the underwritten builders went bankrupt.

The freeholder, Lowmans Trading Limited, has lodged a claim at the High Court in London demanding the Underwriter Insurance Company pay for the damage.

The dispute started in April 2002 when the Sports Café Group – which was leasing premises from Lowmans – called in builders to convert the site in Newcastle into a sports café.

The builder, William Reidy, started excavation work but the rear wall began to crumble and had to be demolished.

The wall was damaged by two 20m long trenches dug along it without temporary support or propping, says the claim form lodged in court.

Virgins Islands-based company Lowmans sued Reidy in 2006 for negligence. A year later a court ruled the builder bankrupt.

Lowmans then turned its attention on The Underwriter, as it believed the public liability section of its contract with Reidy covered him for damages up to £2m.

The claim form said the defendant agreed to pay out if there was any “accidental damage”. It said that included “all costs and expenses”.

However, The Underwriter, in its defence, said the policy did not cover the excavation work and there was “non-disclosure and misrepresentation”.

The Underwriter, which has been in run-off since 2003, refused to comment. Lowmans could not be reached for comment.