On the menu of the restaurateurs crisis and in the face of their legal attacks, Axa has decided to settle a bill of 300 million euros. Its managing director, Thomas Buberl, announced on June 10 at the microphone of Europe 1 that the insurer was going to devote this sum for 15,000 of its restaurant customers. « It is important to put behind us this difficulty, the legal vagueness that we have experienced ”, he clarified. Axa faces 1,500 legal proceedings from restaurateurs in France. They accuse him of not compensating their operating losses linked to the health crisis. Axa believed that its contracts do not cover such risks. Judicial decisions already handed down have been contradictory, even if the insurer has regularly lost.
« Most often, insurance companies clearly exclude the pandemic from the causes of compensable claims, but some contract wordings are rather vague ”, says a source close to the restaurateurs unions. And as lawyer Alain Garnier, specialist in banking and insurance at Linklaters law firm, reminds us, « the law dictates that imprecise clauses of a contract be interpreted to the detriment of those who drafted them ”.
Does Axa hope to avoid major financial risks in this way? Thomas Buberl clarified that “This solution is not compensation, it is a transaction”. If the customers accept it, they will therefore have to forgo legal action in this case.
« More and more, professionals, and above all insurers who suffer from a lack of image in public opinion, must navigate in a world where the law is not enough but where societal pressure is important., remarks Alain Garnier. It is not certain that in the past, an insurer sure of its rightfulness would have made such a proposal. In the age of social media, he may be tempted to pay more money than he might have lost in court. »
Will restaurateurs be convinced? « Let us wait to know precisely the method of distribution and the payment schedule of this transaction ”, warned in a press release Marc Sanchez, general secretary of the Union of Independents, who however welcomed the fact that his action is bearing fruit. “It is not certain that the restaurateurs concerned do not have every interest, in view of the accumulated debts which for many exceed € 20,000, in taking the defense of their interests to court. “