Burst water main in London not policyholder's fault

XL Insurance has won a court battle proving their policyholder was not responsible for a burst water main which caused £4m damages in London.

The case revolved around a burst water main in Holland Park in 2004. The installer of the water main, J Murphy & Sons Limited, had to pay £4m to Thames Water for the damage caused by the leakage.

Murphy sought to recover the money from the pipe manufacturer Johnston Precast Limited.

If Murphy had been successful in its court battle, XL would have faced a heavy claims pay out as it was the product liability insurer for Johnston.

However, Mr Justice Coulson ruled the cause of the main burst was alkaline attack and a void in the foam concrete backfill, neither of which were the responsibility of Johnston. XL and Johnston are looking to recover court costs from Murphy.

Mr Justice Coulson said yesterday at the High Court: “[I am in} no doubt that Murphy’s claim against JP must be dismissed.

"The effective causes of the failure were not the result of any deficiency in the GRP pipe itself, but the conditions in which it was operating, namely the void around the burst and the (related) alkaline attack.

"On any view, JP were not liable for the void and, on my analysis, not liable in law for the alkaline attack either.”