In a proceeding seeking an order for disclosure of documents from Barclays Bank, the English High Court of Justice considered the scope of the agency involved in a run-off agreement between a reinsurance broker and another entity (“SMP”) in connection with collecting and transmitting of premiums under an Excess of Loss reinsurance policy issued by a Lloyd’s consortium. After SMP allegedly failed to pay $541,884.90 in premiums that it had received, a dispute arose whether the broker was responsible to repay the missing funds, or alternatively, whether the broker itself was damaged by SMP’s misuse of the funds. The consortium contended that the SMP was the agent of the broker, while the broker contended that SMP was simply entitled to collect the premiums due under the policy and pay them to the consortium, but that no agency relationship existed in that regard.
The court analyzed the run-off agreement and determined that the broker was entitled to assert that it was the beneficial owner of the premiums held in the account, even if it held those premiums on trust for the reinsured or was itself subject to obligations to pay them to the Consortium. The court therefore ruled that the order of disclosure from the bank was needed to enable the broker to identify the persons responsible for instructing the bank to pay the monies away, and to defend itself from the consortium’s potential claim. The court further found that the bank may have some culpability, which further supports its production of the documents.  EWHC 3338 (Ch) (Dec. 15, 2017).