United Kingdom

Bunga Bunga owners in £3m court fight over Covid claim

The owners of Bunga Bunga – the London nightclub once frequented by Prince Harry – are preparing a legal battle to recover millions of pounds in an insurance dispute.

Inception Group, co-founded by Duncan Stirling and Charlie Gilkes, paid £130,000 for comprehensive annual insurance cover for 11 bars, restaurants and clubs in London, including Mr Fogg’s, Maggie’s and the Barts speakeasy.

The group filed a claim in March last year after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to stay away from bars and restaurants, triggering an immediate collapse in revenues.

Bunga Bunga: Its owners are preparing a legal battle to recover millions of pounds in an insurance dispute

In a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, insurance company AXA initially appeared to suggest the company could be covered for loss of business. However, AXA said last night that Inception Group’s policy does not provide cover for losses due to the pandemic.

A test case in the High Court ruled that thousands of firms with similar claims are eligible for compensation for Covid-related losses as a result of the lockdown.

Inception Group says AXA is trying to ‘wriggle out’ of making a payout and it plans to launch a £3million claim in the High Court. It is represented by Fenchurch Law, which is also acting for firms including chef Marco Pierre White’s Black and White Hospitality.

Inception will tomorrow open five venues with outside spaces.

Stirling said: ‘We just want to move forward and focus on the recovery path. But 12 months later we’re still having to fight insurers that were meant to be protecting our interests.’

‘To see them behave in this disgraceful way after we have paid thousands of pounds in premiums has been a big wake-up call.’

A spokesperson for AXA said: ‘No cover is provided by the policy wording for this particular claim. We are continuing to work to ensure all valid claims are paid as quickly as possible.’

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