The High Court has clarified a number of further issues around how pubs should be compensated for the disruption they suffered due to Covid-19.

Four pubs successfully challenged insurance company FBD last year about a failure to pay out as a result of the disruption.

The four test cases were taken by Sinnotts Bar, The Leopardstown Inn, and Lemon and Duke in Dublin, as well as Sean's Bar in Athlone.

The Commercial Court found a policy sold by FBD covered the losses sustained by the pubs having to close due to the pandemic.

FBD had argued that a clause in the policy agreeing to pay out if a pub had to close due to an outbreak of an infectious disease within a 25-mile radius, was not valid because Covid-19 was a global pandemic.

But Mr Justice Denis McDonald said even though there were nationwide outbreaks, the pubs were still covered if there was an outbreak within 25 miles and that it was one of the causes of the closure.

In a further ruling last year, he found that the word closure in the policy was not confined to meaning a total shutdown of the premises but also meant the closure of a part of the premises.

In today's judgment, the judge provided further clarity about the issues to be taken into account by FBD in assessing the amount of compensation to be paid to the businesses.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Denis McDonald found that during the relevant periods in 2020, the bar counters of the three Dublin pubs were subject to a government-imposed closure and that the pubs are entitled to be compensated for the losses they suffered as a result.

He acknowledged that assessing the losses suffered due to the bar counters would be difficult but proposed a possible method that could be used by the businesses and FBD to agree on a figure.

He also found that the Dublin pubs were subject to an early closing requirement during a number of periods from 10 August 2020 and were entitled to be indemnified in respect of the losses they suffered.

The judge was also asked to look at a claim by the pubs for compensation in relation to retaining staff and continuing to pay certain staff while the premises were closed.

He said each of the claims by Sean's Bar, Sinnotts and Lemon and Duke were partly successful although he said he could not make a similar finding in the case of the Leopardstown Inn in light of the evidence he had.

The judge urged the parties to make every effort to resolve the outstanding issues between them. He said enormous efforts had been expended to date by all sides. And he said he was very strongly of the view that with constructive engagement on all sides, many of the remaining issues in dispute could be resolved without the need for further court hearings.

It is estimated around 1,000 pubs and restaurants could be affected by the rulings.

The matter will be mentioned in court again this month.

Following today's hearing, the managing director of Lemon and Duke, Noel Anderson said: "We are thankful to the judge for providing clarity on a number of outstanding issues such as partial closures and the interpretations of various clauses of the insurance policy.

"We hope now that this will lead to swift resolution of all outstanding claims.

In a statement issued this afternoon, FBD welcomed the High Court judgement.

"This judgement has provided considerable clarity on the definition of business closure and on other matters such as allowable wages," the company said.

It added that while some matters remain to be clarified, FBD would progress with the settlement of valid claims for customers.

"FBD has been in extensive discussions with reinsurers on the application of reinsurance cover to these business interruption claims," the statement said.

"FBD has reached agreement with reinsurers, for the expected impacted layers of its catastrophe programme, on how reinsurance recoveries will operate. This positive development reduces the uncertainty surrounding recoveries from reinsurers and has had a favourable impact on previously booked reserves net of reinsurance."

The insurer said it was on track to deliver pre-tax profits for the 2021 financial year in excess of €100 million, significantly ahead of its own and wider market guidance.

The company said it would publish preliminary results on March 4th.

"FBD confirms that Government subsidies paid to public house customers with Business Interruption cover have not and will not contribute to 2021 profits," the statement concluded.