The broker trade body may compile a scheme to help its members action the new duty’s requirements

Broking trade association Biba has urged the UK government that the insurance sector will need fair warning ahead of the implementation of Martyn’s Law to ensure the provision of suitable public liability products for commercial customers is available, or that the cover offered by terrorism reinsurance scheme Pool Re is sufficiently expanded to insure the new regulation’s requirements.

The Protect Duty, also known as Martyn’s Law, will require public venues that can house 100 or more people to take greater steps to ensure public safety – the demand for this bill has arisen from a slew of recent terrorist attacks, such as the May 2017 bombing at Manchester Arena.

The duty, which was formally announced by the government in December 2022 following a mention in the late Queen Elizabeth II’s May 2022 opening of Parliament speech, will be applicable across the UK and will set varying security requirements across two venue tiers – one tier is designed for publicly accessible venues that can house between 100 and 800 people, while the second tier caters for venues that can accommodate 800 or more people.

Qualifying organisation types that fall within the scope of the new duty include entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums and galleries, sports grounds, town halls, visitor attractions, temporary events, places of worship and health and education facilities.

Therefore, venues such as retail or department stores, bars, restaurants, live music venues and theatres will all be impacted if they meet the duty’s size requirements.

Venues that fall within the standard tier, housing between 100 and 800 guests, will need to raise awareness and complete training with staff, as well as put together a preparedness plan. This could include, for example, locking doors to delay attackers’ progress and teaching staff to guide colleagues and customers to alternative exits.

Enhanced tier venues that can hold more than 800 people will need to conduct a risk assessment and put together a comprehensive security plan.

Martyn’s Law will be enforced using an inspection model, the government confirmed.

Graeme Trudgill, executive director of Biba, told Insurance Times: “[Martyn’s Law is] good for health and safety, so [that] we all feel safe when we go to events, but it does put a lot of liability on a lot of clients. It could be that a large restaurant has to do these things.”

The insurance implications

Within its 2023 manifesto, published on 24 January 2023, Biba stated that the Protect Duty will have “a significant impact on the security and insurance sectors”.

It continued: “Insurance could serve as an integrated component of meeting Protect Duty requirements, as a method of both managing and transferring risk”.

The trade body has therefore outlined two calls for action around Martyn’s Law.

It has urged the UK government “to give sufficient time for businesses to prepare for the new duty” and also called into question whether Pool Re’s remit needs to be expanded.

The manifesto stated: “If insurers elect to restrict liability capability for terrorism exposure following [the] introduction of the new legislation, thereby leading to partial failure of the market, [then] Pool Re [should] be authorised to explore the potential expansion of its cover in order that all policyholders can access the necessary cover.”

Trudgill continued: “What we need to make sure is that the insurance market has time to bring products forward that are going to cover this and that there are products available.

“If there aren’t products available, then we’ll need Pool Re to step in and see what [it] can do to potentially pick this up as well.

“There’s going to be a big education and training [requirement], assuming the bill lands.”

Alongside its overarching suggestions to ensure the Protect Duty’s success, Biba itself is also beginning to think about how it can help broker members manage the new requirements.

“One other thing we might do on this is we might try and put a scheme together so that members can use it with their clients if need be. We’ll see how things progress,” Trudgill added.

Is time running out?

Trudgill told Insurance Times that the bill behind the Protect Duty has yet to commence its journey through the Houses of Parliament.

However, Trudgill confirmed that Biba’s “latest intel” suggests that draft legislation for Martyn’s Law should be published in April 2023. Trudgill also believes that the chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, may mention the bill in his March budget speech.

“It needs to start this spring, otherwise – with the general election towards the second half of next year – it may not make it through,” he noted.