In this update, we summarise significant insurance decisions released in the latter part of 2014.  

Litigation arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes continues its progress through the levels of appeal.  The Supreme Court’s judgment in Ridgecrest disposed of the doctrine of merger in the context of event-based policies, but identified the “indemnity principle” as a bar to the double counting of damage caused by successive earthquakes.  The application of the indemnity principle was considered further by the Court of Appeal in Wild South/Marriott/Crystal Imports and by the High Court in Morrison.  

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Firm PI 1 Ltd v Zurich outlined the principles which apply to contract interpretation in New Zealand.  Disappointingly, the Court did not resolve the controversial question of whether pre-contractual negotiations are able to be used for the interpretation of contracts.  However, the judgment signals a more conservative approach to contract interpretation, in line with that taken in England and Australia.

A more extensive discussion of particular judgments is linked to the case names highlighted in the summary table.

Summary of cases:

Click here to view table.