Whether insured should be restored to the Companies Register in order to allow a beneficiary to claim
A group death in service benefits policy was taken out by a company for the benefit of its employees. That company was struck off the Companies Register, on the application of its directors, in 2012.
In 2008 one of its employees had been killed in India, having permanently transferred there to help expand the company’s business. The employee’s wife sought to claim under the policy. The judge held that she could not do so, because of a policy exclusion for employees who were not ordinarily employed and resident in the UK. Although not required to do so, the judge nevertheless went on to consider whether (if the claim had been valid) the court ought to have granted a declaration that the insurer was obliged to pay the company after restoration of the company to the register. The policy expressly excluded the right of any third party to enforce the contract and there was no assignment in favour of the widow.
The approach of the court is normally that a declaration will be made if it would serve a useful purpose. Citing earlier caselaw, the judge held that declaratory relief should not necessarily be precluded by the claimant’s lack of any beneficial interest in any monies which the company might receive. Nor was it problematic that the widow is not a party to the policy and is unable to enforce it or compel the company to enforce it. Accordingly, had a different conclusion been reached on the merits of the claim, the judge said that he would not have been satisfied that the matter could necessarily have been properly and fairly resolved without restoring the company to the register and joining it to the action (although in the particular circumstances of the case, an adjournment or stay would have been more appropriate).