A High Court judge has said he is "desperately anxious" to see some progress made between publicans and insurer FBD over the amount of money to be paid to the publicans to compensate them for their losses during disruption caused by Covid 19.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald made his comments after being told that "not very much progress" had been made since the case was in court last month.

Last year, in a test case brought by four pubs, the judge found a policy sold by FBD covered losses they sustained by having to close during government restrictions imposed in the pandemic.

He has said repeatedly that he hopes the pubs - Dublin bars Sinnotts', The Leopardstown Inn and Lemon & Duke as well as Sean's Bar in Athlone can come to an amicable agreement with FBD over the amount of money to be paid out, without the issues having to be heard in a full court hearing.

This morning, Senior Counsel for the pubs, Michael Cush, said matters had not moved forward much since the case was last in court in February.

Counsel for FBD, Declan McGrath said the pubs were trying to convey that the fault lay on FBD’s side and that was totally rejected by the insurer.

Mr Justice McDonald said he could not determine who was responsible for the fact that not a huge amount of progress had been made without reading all the correspondence exchanged but he said it was perhaps good not to attribute blame.

The judge said he was desperately anxious the sides agree in an amicable way, given the commitment each side had made to date.

The case itself had involved some novel issues he said, but it was now at a point that the remaining issues should be capable of being resolved between the parties, without being heard in court.

The judge said he hoped the parties could be constructive and proceed in a co operative way.

The court heard that a meeting of experts for each side would take place at the end of this month and the case will be back in court on April 7.

If there is no progress by then, the judge said there would have to be a full case management conference exploring the issues and the extent of the disagreement between the sides.