This was an appeal by an independent insurance broker, Mr Fisk, against a placing or wholesale broker, Mr Thornhill, following Part 20 proceedings in which Mr Fisk’s claim against Mr Thornhill was dismissed. Both had been negligent in their handling of the renewal of insurance for a pub. Following a flood, the owners’ claim under the insurance was rejected on the ground that the fact that the pub had an oak-framed structure and wattle and daub walls had not been made known to them. Mr Fisk settled the owners’ claim against him, accepting that he had failed to make it clear to Mr Thornton that the property was a 16th century listed building. His Part 20 claim against Mr Thornton was rejected on grounds of causation although the judge accepted that Mr Thornhill had been in breach of his duty to the owners by not making it clear that that a new policy with a different insurer was being proposed and that this in turn would have different terms and conditions.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered Mr Thornton to make a contribution of 25% of the sum agreed by Mr Fisk to be payable to the owners. Had Mr Thornton submitted a proposal form before placing cover on 19 October 2001 (he sent one two days after the flood), it would have become clear that he could not place cover with the proposed insurer. There would still have been time for Mr Fisk to place cover with another insurer before the flood on 21 October and the judge should not have held that Mr Fisk had failed on causation.