This case involved the interpretation of a clause in the policy which the insurer argued was an aggregation clause. The insured sought to argue that it was not an aggregation clause, because, although worded like an aggregation clause, it did not clearly set out the consequences of several claims being aggregated together. HHJ Waksman QC rejected that argument, on the basis that it was clear, when read with the policy schedule, that the clause was intended to treat linked claims as a single claim and "there is no real difficulty in deciding which financial limit applies because it is obviously the lower one than would otherwise be the case; this must follow, since the purpose of aggregation is to reduce cover in the case of linked claims and here the lower amount is specifically referenced to "one claim"".
The judge made some general observations too. Since aggregation clauses benefit both insurers and insureds in different ways (depending on whether they apply to the policy limit or the payment of an excess), "one should approach any question of construction in relation to an aggregation clause without any preconceptions as to the result and to undertake it in a balanced way". Also, although arguments that a clause is redundant or otiose can be made to support an alternative interpretation, it should be borne in mind that sometimes this just reflects "linguistic overkill" by the draftsman: "the fact that a particular clause may be duplicative in other parts of the Policy does not necessarily mean that it is also merely duplicative in [the section where the clause appears]". The judge said that some of the policy wording in this case had been inelegant, but "in frequently used, modified and revised policies of insurance, neatness and elegance are often lost".
The judge concluded that the relevant clause operated as an aggregation clause, so that claims falling within it were subject to the lower limit of £10 million (rather than £20 million). Furthermore, the policy was drafted in such a way that the excess could not be aggregated. Although the judge saw force in the argument that it would be illogical for there to be aggregation of cover limits but not for the policy excess, it was necessary to look at the particular wording of the policy and "to achieve that result for claims would simply amount to rewriting this part of the Policy in a way which does too much violence to the language".