Insurers, including Zurich, win ruling in battle with Coal Authority over subsidence affected residential properties

Gavel ban

A clutch of insurers have won a Land Tribunal ruling in a long-ruining battle with the Coal Authority.

The case related to 24 subsidence affected residential properties in Rosewell, near Edinburgh. Out of Cunnigham Lindsey’s clients, Zurich had the largest number of insureds.

The Coal Authority originally rejected liability in 2004. Convinced that this decision was wrong, mining experts from Cunningham Lindsey’s project managed subsidence team, working on behalf of the consortium, then appointed specialist consultant engineers, Wardell Armstrong, to investigate further.

After a comprehensive review, they formed the opinion that the most probable cause of damage to these properties was areal subsidence associated with old coal mine workings in the Whitehill Great seam, some 30m below the affected area of the village.

In February this year, the Lands Tribunal advised that Wardell Armstrong’s evidence had been preferred and the decision was found in favour of insurers.

The Lands Tribunal also concluded that the Coal Authority are liable for the necessary mine stabilisation works, which establishes an important precedent for similar cases in the future.

The Coal Authority has not appealed against the Tribunal’s ruling. The case continues in order to determine what proportion of the costs incurred, estimated at around £3 million, can be recovered by insurers from the Coal Authority. In the proceedings, the consortium was represented by Counsel instructed by Simpson & Marwick, Solicitors.