DAU News & Blog

NEWS | DUAL Asset Underwriting wins Insurance Company of the Year in the CEE

DUAL Asset Underwriting became the insurance company of the year at the CEE Mergers & Acquisitions awards. The company, represented in Poland by DUAL Polska, also received a nomination for the M&A Professional Service Provider award.

The CEE M&A awards is an annual event organized by CEE M&A Director Magazine and EuropaProperty.com. The competition promotes companies and specialists who have shown special achievements in the mergers and acquisitions market in the last year.

This year's gala took place at the Westin Hotel in Warsaw on 7th March 2019. It was attended by decision makers, managers and practitioners from the industry in the Central and Eastern European region. Nominations in each category were assessed by 21 M&A market specialists.

Karol Swietlicki – Business Development Manager in Warsaw commented:

“We are very pleased that our hard work in 2018 has been recognized at such a prestigious awards ceremony. Now that we have a dedicated CEE team based in Warsaw and London, it is a sign that we are heading in the right direction in 2019.”

Please contact Karol on kswietlicki@dualgroup.com or +48 669 750 020 for more information on DUAL Asset’s offering in the CEE/SEE region.

NEWS | Senior Solicitor Joins Our Norwich Team

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ian Mellor who joins our established team of talented underwriters in Norwich from Aviva, the UK’s largest insurance company. Ian will lead our Norwich team as Head of Office.

Ian has over 10 years’ experience working in the real estate and insurance sectors, having been a transactional property lawyer at Mills & Reeve LLP for five years before joining Aviva.

During his seven-year tenure at Aviva, Ian was a senior lawyer for Aviva Investors Real Estate Finance and has since 2015 supported material activities for the UK insurance business, including distribution through strategic partners. Ian also spent time with legal teams supporting businesses in Ireland and France, and the Group function legal team in London where he gained corporate M&A experience.

Ian says, “I am excited to be joining DUAL Asset Underwriting. DUAL is a truly innovative business with a clear focus on delighting customers and partners through market leading underwriting and developing new products that meet previously unmet needs – all backed by top rated insurers.

I very much look forward to being part of the DUAL journey, as the business continues to strengthen its position in existing and new markets.”

Ian Keith, Managing Director of DUAL Asset, said: “I am delighted that Ian is joining DUAL to lead our established team of talented underwriters in Norwich. Ian comes with a wealth of experience gained in the property and insurance sectors that will mean DUAL is even better placed to exceed our customers and partners’ expectations.”

Ian can be contacted on +44 (0)203 808 5659 or +44 (0)7936 358 837 and imellor@dualgroup.com

NEWS | Our Expansion Continues With The Addition Of An Experienced Irish Solicitor

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce that our team is further expanding with the addition of Paul McGennis.

Paul is an experienced Irish solicitor with over 30 years’ experience in advising in Real Estate transactions and Banking/ Financing of Property Developments and Acquisitions. Paul’s recent experience includes acting in the acquisition and development of both commercial and residential property, acting in respect of the financing of same, together with portfolio loan sales and acquisitions advising vendors, purchasers and funders in respect of loans secured on both Irish and International assets.

Paul joined DUAL Asset Underwriting in February 2019. His long experience in providing legal advice in the Real Estate and Banking sectors will prove invaluable in advising clients on a broad range of risks underwritten by DUAL Asset. Paul says:

”I am so looking forward to the opportunity presented to carve out the next chapter of my career with DUAL Asset in the Title and Legal Indemnity Underwriting sector and the commercial solutions which DUAL Asset provides, particularly focusing on the developing market in Ireland.”

Ian Keith, Managing Director of DUAL Asset commented, “The hiring of such an experienced lawyer is a real statement of intent. It shows our commitment to the Irish market, which has real potential for growth in the coming years and will leave us very well set up for any potential Brexit outcome. I am delighted Paul has decided to join us and his experience and knowledge will be instrumental in our continued growth.”

Contact Paul on pmcgennis@dualgroup.com or +353 (0) 1697 1169 / +353 (0) 8624 382 79

BLOG | Brexit: The Final Countdown - An Article by Andrew Hillier

Andrew Hillier looks at the current state of the financial services sector in the City of London in the crucial days in the run-up to Brexit.

The beginning of 2019 was a great new phase in DUAL Asset’s development as we moved into our new offices with spectacular views over London. Overlooking the City from the 17th floor you really do get a buzz at being at the heart of global finance, trade and commerce. It’s a stunning vista, but against the expanse of the capital’s horizon looms a tiny storm cloud that refuses to blow away. Brexit.

I’m sure everyone reading this will have meticulously planned every eventuality that could occur to safeguard their businesses as best they can. But the reality is no one really knows. So what signs are there, and do they tell us anything from which we can draw comfort?

UK Property and Liquidity

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the UK manages £1.8 trillion worth of investments, making it the third largest insurance industry in the world. If the UK doesn’t maintain a tight grip of its insurance sector, it may have profound effects on the UK economy, including the £18 billion worth of taxes that it contributes and employment of 300,000 people.

From a DUAL Asset perspective, our business is based around adding value to property market transactions from M&A generally, through to our specific Title to Shares product. So, for us, the effect on the UK property market, and in particular the big-ticket property deals in London, are the areas of importance.

After the vote to leave the EU in 2016 we saw a number of factors which pointed to difficulties coming down the line, particularly for London and the financial sector. Firstly, just after the vote, the vulnerability of some of the UK property funds was tested, with more than £1.5bn of withdrawals being requested. This resulted in many of the funds having no liquidity to meet these withdrawals and temporarily having to shut up shop. It was a circumstance known as ‘gating’ and the Financial Times reported in June that “six open-ended property funds, representing more than £15bn in funds under management, have now implemented gates, suspending investor redemptions.”

Financial Services: Strong & Stable

In early 2017, an Ernst & Young (EY) report suggested that approximately 230,000 jobs could be lost in the financial services sector in London. On the back of these and other doom-mongering predictions, many of us really shuddered at what the future could really hold.

But as we go into the final countdown of Brexit, what are the signs today for the effect on the UK property market and London in particular? Generally speaking, the top FTSE 350 REITs have performed in line with the rest of the market, so no particular alarm bells there.

A recent survey of the financial services sector in London suggested that only 2000 jobs had been truly relocated out of the City, much less than previous predictions. In addition, much of the property investment market has benefited from the fall in Sterling, making overseas investment into the UK more attractive.

However, we have to be clear-headed about the current state of the market.

London house prices fell at their fastest rate for almost a decade in January wiping more than £7,500 off the average value of a home. The capital’s property market was down by 1.6 per cent at the start of the year, the biggest annual fall since September 2009 when it began bouncing back from the slump that followed the financial crisis. The average price of a London home stood at £472,230 in January down from £479,780 a year previously, according to figures from the Land Registry.

Investor Confidence

The Brexit turmoil has had some effect on the UK property market. Anything that creates uncertainty, however remote or perceived, will have a slowdown effect or at least lead to indecision amongst potential purchasers. However, the reality is that with low interest rates and a shortage of properties, those looking to buy in the residential marketplace will continue to go ahead.

In the Commercial marketplace, investors seeking a return still need to find alternatives to a volatile stock market and low interest rates. UK commercial property remains an attractive proposition.

The UK property market is much more resilient to any downturn than any time since the financial crisis with debt levels now at £150bn, down by 40% since 2007. So, there are signs to be positive about and just last month it was announced that Citibank is buying 25 Canada Square for more than £1bn – which signals there is life after Brexit.

Also, this year, we can expect completion of the tallest residential building in Europe: the Landmark Pinnacle, E14. The 1,000ft Tulip, a viewing platform by Foster + Partners that is set to be the tallest building in the City, awaits approval. And Estate Agents Knight Frank reports a 12.5% increase in prospective new buyers in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 2017 and a 31% rise in prime central and prime outer London since January 2016.

For DUAL Asset – we have grown our business into a truly global insurer, doing deals in 37 countries last year, and expanding into AsiaPac, Japan and the US. Whatever the outcome after Brexit our global clients will continue to invest in real estate and infrastructure assets around the world, as they seek better returns in our current low interest rate global economy.

BLOG | Pet Inheritance - The Rich and Furry

As far as famous pets go, Choupette is certainly up there at the very top. The Birman cat was owned by Karl Lagerfeld, the famous fashion designer. Choupette already had her own Twitter and Instagram accounts with over 200,000 followers. Choupette was already herself a millionaire, having earned a reported £2.3 million appearing in car and cosmetic adverts around the world.

Following Karl Lagerfeld's death in February this year, Choupette is reported to have been left a substantial part of his £150m estate in his will. By any stretch of the imagination, Choupette is now secure for life and will surely never go without her favourite cat biscuits, or an occasional bit of cat nip.

The late Alexander McQueen, who died in 2011, left £50,000 to his three dogs to be placed in a trust to ensure their upkeep for the rest of their lives. McQueen also generously bequeathed £100,000 each to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Blue Cross Sick Animal Centre in Burford. These are certainly substantial sums, but the world's richest dog is believed to be Gunther IV, a German shepherd. Gunther IV is estimated to be worth over $370m. The original Gunther was bequeathed $80m from the Countess Carlotta Liebenstein, who died in 1991.

Leaving money in your will to your pet, or an animal charity, is not new though. "I have left a sum to my cat for her care, with the request that either my close family take care of her, or find her a good home, with a wish that she is never returned to care, having been a rescue cat," says Kate Thorp, Manager of DUAL Asset's Executor & Inheritance Protection team. “I was reading a will on a case recently,” says Kate, “and I noticed the deceased had left only small amounts of money to his close relatives. A larger sum of money went to an animal charity with the comment that animals had given him more joy than his family ever had during his life. I wondered if his family were aware of this before he died!”

This sentiment is probably not that unusual though, especially with the world as it is today with families seemingly more fractious and broken than ever before. Stepping through your front door after a long hard day at work, who usually rushes to greet you, your partner, or your pet? Who seems more pleased to see you? Answers on a postcard.

While it is unlikely anyone will try to challenge Karl Lagerfeld's legacy to Choupette, this does happen and usually the challenge will come from the deceased's close relatives, who feel aggrieved at being effectively disinherited by an animal, or an animal charity. Obtaining professional advice is very important when drawing up your will in these circumstances, to make sure there is as little room as possible for the will to be successfully challenged after you die. Also, you need to think about what will happen when the pet is no longer alive, or perhaps even goes missing, as some do, before the estate is distributed. What happens to their legacy then? Careful will drafting is essential.

DUAL Asset considers insurance for will disputes. Please contact Kate Thorp – Manager Executor & Inheritance Protection - kthorp@dualgroup.com or +44 (0)20 7337 8775 / 07519 129 136 to discuss a case.

BLOG | Claims Corner - Where Has Our Hotel Gone?

DUAL Asset recently settled another restrictive covenant claim.

The Insured obtained a policy in June 2015 to deal with their proposed redevelopment of a hotel site, which would likely breach a number of restrictive covenants which burdened their title. Whilst we generally anticipate that most claims would arrive within 24 months of policy commencement, in this case we had covered the proposed development on a pre-planning basis and so it was the application for planning permission which prompted a letter from the claimant in July 2018.

The initial claim was vague, with no details from the claimant’s agent to substantiate their client’s claim. Working together with the Insured’s solicitors, our initial strategy was to push back and put the claimant to proof of their claim. Although there was a period of back and forth between us and the claimant, the Insured was, crucially, able to continue with their development plans with the benefit of the policy.

Once we and the solicitors were satisfied that the claimant was legitimate and able to legally enforce the covenants, discussions about potential settlement began. It was clear that the claimant did not intend to injunct the Insured’s development, which would of course set us off down an expensive and uncertain path should we have needed to defend their claim.

The claimant indicated a willingness to modify the restrictive covenants so as to allow the Insured’s development to proceed unhindered, in return for a five-figure consideration. Although we suggested that it would be prudent to negotiate this figure with the claimant, the Insured preferred to accept the offer since protracted negotiations could have had a negative impact on the renewal of their loan. The policy carried an excess which meant the Insured was responsible for just under 50% of the claim, which totalled £100k including fees.

With the benefit of the DUAL Asset policy, the Insured had been able to proceed with their development plans unhindered and uninterrupted. The claimant had been on our ‘watch’ list when the policy was issued which is why it carried an excess, but our underwriters had been able to structure a solution which gave the Insured the cover they needed whilst also giving the insurer a degree of comfort.

The Insured was delighted with the way that DUAL Asset handled the claim stating:

‘A note to thank Andy and Naomi for their much appreciated help in this matter. It has been a pleasure to deal with them both.’

NEWS | A Q&A with our Managing Director and Head of Operations

Get inside the heads of DUAL Asset’s very own Ian and Natalie, as they speak candidly about the Asset team, their experience working for DUAL and their continued expansion plans to achieve global domination!

You can watch the video here.

NEWS | New Starter in the Warsaw Office

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce that our European team is expanding once more, with the addition of Emilia Binder. She will join our team in the Warsaw office, as a Transactional Insurance Underwriter responsible for the CEE and SEE region.

Emilia is a qualified legal advisor with over 10 years’ experience on the Polish market, having worked at the Warsaw offices of Beiten Burkhardt and Wolf Theiss, leading law firms in Germany, Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. She specialises in real estate and construction law, with her main focus on spatial development, building and re-privatisation law. During the course of her career, she has provided comprehensive legal assistance covering real estate, civil, administrative and constitutional law in challenging, multilevel cases requiring excellent understanding of the complexity of legal issues regarding the legal status of real estate in Poland.

Emilia commented, “I’m really excited to be joining such an experienced and proactive team. The importance of transactional insurance has been growing rapidly, as it contributes to transaction speed, efficiency and safety of the parties involved. I’m particularly looking forward to bringing my real estate experience and network to strengthen the position of DUAL in the competitive and exciting markets across CEE and SEE.

Ian Keith Managing Director for DUAL Asset says, “It is great news that Emilia has joined the team in Warsaw. Having a local underwriter on the ground in Poland will really strengthen our underwriting offering across the region. It will speed up the underwriting process and also cut down on extra legal fees that clients may have paid before when we needed to instruct external counsel on complex Polish deals.

Contact Emilia on ebinder@dualgroup.com or +48 669 750 515

BLOG | “If it weren’t for you meddling kids!”

Scooby Doo may not have coined this phrase specifically for the English & Welsh legal system, but it is a matter of fact, that the number of Inheritance Act claims have been on the rise in recent years. Those claims which reached the Royal Courts of Justice in 2016 and 2017 (around 300 cases) topped the number of those claims reaching the Courts in the previous 4 years. This increase in claims does not take into account those cases being resolved or settled out of court, perhaps by mediation. The number of claims which do not reach court cannot be known, but must be several hundred more.

Certainly, the high profile Ilott v Mitson case can be held responsible, at least in part, for the rise. Adult children all over England and Wales were positively “encouraged” to dispute their inheritance, or lack of it, after being left out of their parent’s will, after reading articles which appeared in most national newspapers. With this case, there were a few surprises along the way as the claimant, the deceased’s daughter, didn’t even need to show evidence of having been maintained by their deceased parent. The daughter was awarded a lump sum. Historically, this maintenance and financial dependency, had always been seen as a key part of a successful Inheritance Act claim.

Inheritance Act insurance, or its more commonly used name, Early Distribution insurance, has also increased in popularity over the last few years,” says Kate Thorp, Manager of DUAL Asset Underwriting’s Inheritance and Protection department. “We provide this cover as standard under our comprehensive insurance policy, but we also issue many stand-alone policies. Most are a precautionary cover, where as an example, the beneficiary of the estate urgently requires the early release of their inheritance, perhaps to buy a house. Credit is not as widely or as cheaply available as it once was. A lot of Solicitors are reluctant to pay out to the entitled beneficiaries until 10 months have passed from the date of the grant of probate, in order to provide as much protection to the estate as possible. The insurance policy is there to protect the executors and beneficiaries of the estate, allowing the early distribution to take place. The policy provides cover, if such an Inheritance Act claim was to arise during this 10-month claim period. The policy runs in perpetuity, so it will even cover an out of time claim, which sometimes can happen.

DUAL Asset will also look at providing cover when there is a potential for a claim to occur. Where perhaps a spouse or partner has been left out of the will, but has not come forward as of yet. “These types of cases are subject to underwriting and carefully considered,” says Kate Thorp. “We often look at the family history and background to any estrangement and we take information from various sources to help us assess the likelihood of not only a claim occurring, but how likely that claim is to be successful, if it did occur.

If you wish to discuss Early Distribution insurance, please contact Kate Thorp – Manager Executor & Inheritance Protection: kthorp@dualgroup.com or 020 7337 8775 / 07519 129 136.

NEWS | Conquer the World One Step at a Time

As if conquering the world one deal at a time was not consuming enough for Asset, one of the DUAL Asset team has literally decided to also conquer the world (or a large mountain range anyway!).

In March, Kirstin Nee and 9 of her colleagues from across the Hyperion Group will be embarking on a colossal trek in the Andes. The whole trek involves 13 days of hiking and climbing in the Ecuadorian Volcanic Andes taking in many peaks, including Cayambe (5,780m), Cotopaxi (5,897m) and ending with the summit of Chimborazo (6,310m); the closest place on Earth to space! The expedition team of mountaineering novices will take on multiple physical and technical hurdles, including roped glacier travel, ice axe climbing, prussiking and crevasse crossing; all whilst trying to cope with being at an altitude of over 6000m! With only a 60% summit rate success, this is by no means a walk in the park!

It is not in vain however, as Kirstin is trying to raise lots of money for the 4 wonderful charities being support by Hyperion’s Million 4 Million campaign:

Fundraising has been going well with games at the DUAL Christmas party and a Fire and Ice Ball. The ball which was held on the snowy evening of 1st February was an outstanding success and the group managed to raise over £35Kon the evening. The team were overwhelmed with the success of the raffle, auction and the 300 plus person game of Heads & Tails hosted by Kirstin and her Dad!

Kirstin’s personal target of £10K and the team target of £100K being hit is still a long way away. If you would like to show your support (and stop her incessant LinkedIn posts), please pop on to her Virgin Giving page and make a donation. To give you an idea of how seriously she is taking this, she has pulled out of MIPIM (so please dig deep)!

BLOG | Claims Corner - Where Shall We Put Our Bins?

Sometimes the smallest things cause issues between neighbours and we will never know why! DUAL Asset recently dealt with a Scottish case, which was a dispossession policy. It was also interesting as it was our first case to result in a claim from our online comparison site. For those that don’t know, our comparison site provides conveyancers with an easy way to deal with over 40 standard risks by obtaining 3 comparative quotes for their clients, the system allows the user to select the appropriate quote and issue the policy in an instant.

The comparison site is designed for our low-cost ‘continued use’ policies and one question we are often asked is – as it is a claim stemming from an online system, will you not try and find a way to not pay it?

In this instance, the claim occurred when the insured’s neighbour sold their house and the new neighbour decided to upset the status quo relating to an area outside the respective properties. The informal arrangement hinged on whether firstly the claimant had the right to access part of the insured’s property for maintenance of their own property and secondly, whether an area that appeared in the past to be jointly owned, could be used for bin storage by the neighbour.

After a few exchanges of letters from the lawyers, the insured agreed to allow mutual access for maintenance and also to give up their claim to ownership of a small portion of the area of land in dispute, in order to make room for the neighbour’s bin storage. The insured took this pragmatic approach in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle with their neighbour and was compensated £2,000 for the loss of the land.

Everyone was satisfied with the settlement, which was reached swiftly.

NEWS | DUAL Asset’s Fairy-tale of New York

The Christmas period is always a time for reflection of the year just passed and what better way to reflect on the success of our US business in the last year than a trip to New York! We have been very busy building our US business over the last 12 months and although the marketplace is still entrenched with traditional title insurers, we have been making steady progress and wanted to share some highlights of our recent breakthroughs.

To provide some background, it is worth pointing out that DUAL Asset are not currently providing direct title insurance for real estate assets in the United States. What we do provide however, is a friendly reinsurance facility to the smaller US title insurers that enables them to compete with the current largest two monoline title insurers - First American and Fidelity. Our reinsurance facility allows our smaller US partners to write larger commercial transactions in what is currently a monopolised market worth $15bn per annum! Furthermore, our expertise in providing cover for known specific risks is changing the mind-set of an industry that is reluctant to provide cover for known specific issues.

In addition, we have introduced our hugely successful Title to Shares product into the US Market. Sitting behind a traditional Reps and Warranty insurance or ground-up on selective deals, this policy enables a buyer to increase the fundamental warranty coverage, up to the full enterprise value. This product has seen interest from the usual PE and Real Estate companies, who have historically been buyers of the product in Europe. We have issued three policies to date totalling $3.4m GWP with another two to sign this month. Whilst achieving this, the DUAL Asset team have been clocking up the air miles over the last few months building new relationships in the key US hubs of Chicago and New York, as well as extending our key European relationships with our brokers into their US counterparts. We have met some fantastic people and look forward to continue working with these clients in the year to come, in what is going to be a very exciting and busy time.

Of course, in true DUAL Asset fashion, we have found the time to introduce our new US friends to DUAL Asset hospitality and recently hosted a holiday party in New York at the legendary 21 Club for around 80 guests. The trips can be long and tiring, but with a bit of New York shopping, Christmas Ice Skating at the Rockefeller centre and lunch with U2 frontman Bono (ok sitting on an adjoining table), we are able to come home smiling!

We are so excited about the potential growth of our US marketplace, both for reinsurance of traditional title products and our new Title to Shares offering. Whether you are an existing client or an interested reader, come and talk to the team about how we can work with you over there.

BLOG | Claims Corner

The DUAL Asset claims team have been trying to figure out an odd situation with a claim they have been handling in Scotland.

The claim originated after a new property was sold and shortly after the new owners took occupation, the claimant stated that there was an issue with the right of way to the property. This seemed to have stemmed from when the seller got planning consent for the new building. Part of the planning permission was, that the access road was widen slightly and some car parking needed to be provided. In order to comply with this condition, some third party land needed to be acquired from a neighbour.

On investigating the claim, what appeared to have happened was the seller (who was a developer who had subsequently gone bust) had not completed the proper legal paperwork to transfer the title to the property they were selling. So in effect the area for extending the access way and providing the car parking was still owned by the neighbour. It was very unclear as to whether any monies had actually changed hands or whether there was a contract – as none could be found. It was clear to the claims team that the neighbour was going to dig in, causing issues for the insured and that the cost of defending the claim with limited information available, was likely to far out way the honouring of the original contract – which the neighbour had indicated they would stand by. This cost was around £6000 inclusive of all legal fees. DUAL Asset took the decision to bring this complication to a swift conclusion and make settlement. This was back in March 2018…

So having written to the insured’s lawyers confirming settlement and asking them to get the paperwork for the transfer of land to be sorted, we waited for it to be completed. Having waited a couple of months we sent a chaser to the lawyers only to find the person dealing with the case had left and someone would look into it. Complete silence for another two months – so we chased again and the person we dealt with for a second time had also left.

So here we are in January 2019 – despite having chased further to get the payment to the lawyers and the insured – still waiting to settle. All our documentation is complete and the money is ready to be transferred.

So in this instance the DUAL Asset team have reacted quickly, reached a swift resolution to help the insured, but no one wants us to pay them… Remember the claim is not completed until you have been paid!

NEWS | New Starter on the Sales Team

We are pleased that we have expanded our sales team with the addition of Chris Dowling.

Chris enjoyed 19 years with a major UK High Street Bank holding managerial positions.

Not long after this Bank was ‘acquired’ and being disillusioned with its direction, Chris had 8 successful years Self Employed as a whole of market Mortgage Broker; 4 years before and 4 years after the Financial crisis in 2008.

Chris was attracted to the values-based approach and the de-centralised model adopted by a Scandinavian Bank having 7 highly successful years contributing to the start-up of a Branch in his home town.

Chris says “Having particular success developing close relationships with the local professional community, I am really looking forward to my career with DUAL Asset promoting our proposition within the Midlands.

Ian Keith, Managing Director of DUAL Asset commented, “Chris will really bolster our relationships with law firms and brokers across the country and in particular within the Midlands. His banking experience and professional approach will complement the needs of our clients extremely well.

BLOG | How Banks Can Make You Turn in Your Grave and How Insurance Can Help

Last December, Santander UK was fined £32.8m by the Financial Conduct Authority for serious failings in dealing with the accounts of their deceased customers. The bank did not transfer £183m held in their accounts to entitled beneficiaries, when it should have done. Some delays by the bank were as long as 13 years after they originally told one firm of solicitors they held no money for a deceased person. In fact, Santander was holding £120,000 in an account which should have been paid years earlier to various children’s charities at the request of the deceased.

The implications of these failings and the long delays, can be wide reaching. Beneficiaries may have moved away, or even died in the meantime. Genealogists may now have to be instructed at an additional cost to the estate, to help trace the beneficiaries or their successors. Estate papers and accounts may have been filed away or lost, meaning papers have to be reconstituted. The original solicitor firm may have closed or merged, so a new firm and solicitor will have to be instructed.

If charities are the beneficiaries under a deceased’s will, they may have merged or been dissolved. Sadly, it is possible that some may have remained in existence with the assistance of the additional finance, which would have resulted from the inheritance being paid years earlier.

There may also be tax implications. Inheritance Tax may now be payable when it wasn’t originally, due to the additional funds. Even if Inheritance Tax was originally payable, additional tax may now be due to HMRC. Contacting the historical tax records department of HMRC can sometimes take months or even years. Attempts are not always successful though in generating a response, if the file cannot be located by HMRC. This can mean a sum of money being held on account indefinitely to pay a future bill.

If you are facing difficulties administering estate money received from historic bank accounts, due to the passage of time, insurance may be able to assist you. Insurance could speed up the distribution and help release the funds to the known beneficiaries. Insurance may also be an alternative to trying to resolve matters formerly. Especially where the additional funds available are perhaps small. Further enquiries and research may not necessarily be successful due to the passage of time and could result in outstanding enquiries, which leaves the estate open to future claims.

BLOG | Can you Breach Covenants if it is in the Public Interest?


Most people will have to deal with a covenant during a property transaction. They are a common feature that burden real estate titles in the UK, known as title conditions in Scotland. Often, particularly if the covenant has been breached, there is a tendency to downplay the risk they pose. Cheap insurance is sought, or the matter is ignored completely. This can be a dangerous game as developer Millgate discovered in the recent case of The Alexander Devine Children’s Cancer Trust v Millgate Developments Ltd and others [2018] EWCA Civ 2679.


  • The developer built 13 affordable houses on the site, as part of a deal with the local council to provide a certain number of affordable houses for a nearby luxury development.
  • The developer was fully aware of the covenant and that they would be in breach.
  • Development commenced and when it was completed, the developer applied for a modification of the covenant under the public interest limb of ground (aa) of section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925.
  • This was objected to by the neighbouring landowner, the trustees of a children’s hospice, who had the benefit.
  • Whilst the developer had success at the upper tribunal, arguing that the importance of affordable housing outweighed the benefit of the covenant, the case was taken to the court of appeal.


The Court of Appeal found against the developer, stating that the Upper Tribunal had applied case law incorrectly. They reasoned that it was necessary to consider whether the section was being used fairly. They argued that the private rights of the benefitting land still outweighed the public interest here, as the affordable housing could have been built elsewhere. The public interest test must be passed before the judge considers release.

Where does this Leave us?

The impact of the is decision is that if you plan to rely on a public interest defence, you must be proactive in seeking a resolution. The developer’s failure to do so here was key. Much like the Coventry v Lawrence decision, which has set behaviour as key, the same rules appear to apply for the modification of covenants.

Had the developer tried to resolve the covenant via normal methods, but was unable to, we may have had a different result. In the end, it was the build first, attempt to resolve later, which saw the judgement go against them.

The decision means that the covenant is now full enforceable, should the neighbour choose to use it. Such a result could lead to the destruction of the property, or significant compensation for the benefitting land.


Millgate did not behave in a manner approved of by the court. They were aware of the covenants and objections by the covenant owner. The legal solution would be to contact benefitting parties in order to release the covenant and begin the process early, prior to development. The solicitors in this case, could have identified the beneficiaries easily, but either failed to try and find them, or knew they had benefit and ignored it. The court stated that they should engage early, prior to development and not rely on building in known breach to protect their development.

However, this is only effective when you know the full extent of the benefitting land and can identify all claimants. Sadly, this is not always possible. Benefitting land can sometimes not be easily identified, it may have been split into various titles and being completely sure any releases obtained constitute the whole of the land is a risky assumption to make.

In situations such as these, insurance may be your best option. Restrictive covenant policies have been placed for years to cover either known or unknown issues. It is important to remember that policies will generally not allow for an approach to modify the covenants, as in the case previously discussed. The same issue arises with approaches to the beneficiaries and parties made aware of the covenants will have to be excluded from coverage.

Restrictive covenants make up a disproportionate number of our claims. While the situation in this case was more clear cut, many developers have suffered loss where covenants were believed to no longer bind, or were unable to gain a full release. Covenant claims can be extremely costly to settle and they can involve parties who are more interested in preventing the development than settling for a release fee. Policies should be checked to ensure that wording is beneficial to their client. Too often it is assumed there is a market standard wording and that they cannot be amended, but this is untrue.

NEWS | DUAL Asset - Moving On Up

New years can bring many changes, but at DUAL Asset, we like to be ahead of the curve. December marks a new chapter for DUAL and the wider Hyperion group as we move offices; to our new home at 1 Creechurch Place.

It caps a remarkable journey for DUAL Asset as only two months ago we celebrated our 5th anniversary. In that short time, we have gone from an idea, to becoming one of the leading providers of legal indemnity across the globe. The new office matches our ambition to cement ourselves as the leading title insurer.

The building has been specifically tailored to meet our needs. Agile working gives us the ability to work closer together and collaborate on larger projects. The new IT systems will increase our ability to respond to clients quickly and reliably. The new events space will enable us to welcome our clients to the building and meet with us on a more regular basis. The addition of being in the same building as our colleagues in the Hyperion group will increase our ability to communicate and innovate as a business.

DUAL have always taken pride in doing things differently and our new office at 1 Creechurch matches that ambition and goal.

We look forward to welcoming you to the offices soon.

NEWS | New Starter

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce our team is once again expanding with the addition of Chris Hammond.

Chris is an Australian qualified solicitor, who was admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia in 2012. Following admission, Chris worked in the Real Estate team at Hall & Wilcox Lawyers in Melbourne until July 2018. Chris has acted for fund managers, listed and unlisted REITs, superannuation funds, utility companies and private and public investors and developers. Chris’ key areas of practice included property due diligence, sales and acquisitions, commercial and retail leasing, development agreements and construction contracts.

Chris joined DUAL Asset in October 2018 after relocating to London. His experience practising as a solicitor for over 6 years and advising clients in relation to a broad range of risks underwritten by DUAL Asset will assist Chris in quickly becoming an independent and pragmatic underwriter.

Chris says: ‘I am really excited about joining such a dynamic and market-leading business. When practising law, I was often frustrated by being unable to offer truly commercial solutions to clients in respect of title and other risks identified. DUAL Asset provides commercial solutions to these problems, which ultimately assists in allowing transactions to proceed. I am particularly looking forward to using my network in Australia to help grow the DUAL Asset business in Australia.’

Ian Keith, Managing Director at DUAL Asset, commented: “Convincing Chris to move from the legal to the insurance sector is a real coup for DUAL Asset. Chris brings a wealth of real estate experience and will help drive our business in the UK, but also in Australia and New Zealand. We are delighted to have Chris join the London team for what I am sure will be the start of a very successful underwriting career.”

Chris can be contacted on +44 (0)20 3808 2463 and chammond@dualgroup.com

NEWS | And Another One!

DUAL Asset Underwriting has another new recruit in their London office. Tim Lewis joined as an Underwriting Assistant on the 7th November.

Tim studied economics and graduated with a Diploma in International studies, spending time abroad working in France as a language assistant. He then set up a maths tutoring business alongside pursuing a career in golf, gaining significant experience playing at an elite amateur level.

Tim says “I am delighted to join DUAL Asset and have settled in quickly and been made to feel welcome from day one. DUAL Asset is at the forefront of innovation and as such, I am aware that there is no better place to begin a career in insurance. I am eager to learn from some of the best minds in the industry in a supportive and team orientated atmosphere.

It is exciting to join a friendly, dynamic and vibrant team with a track record of significant growth over the last 5 years. I am looking forward to contributing and being a part of the continued success of DUAL Asset.”

Natalie Leversedge, Head of Operations at DUAL Asset, commented, “I am really excited that Tim is joining our ever expanding team of Underwriting Assistants. He is a great addition to the team and I’m really looking forward to getting some golfing tips, so that I can up my crazy golf skills!”

Tim can be contacted on +44 (0)203 808 2562 and tlewis@dualgroup.com

BLOG | Executor & Inheritance Insurance and Court Orders

Executor & Inheritance insurance provided by DUAL Asset can be useful in a myriad of ways. Insurance policies can play a major part aiding a solicitor to obtain the right judgement at court for their client. The costs involved in going to court and applying for a court order, can be significant and can sometimes take many years.

An insurance policy can be used to strengthen a claimant’s hand and avoid wasted costs. An example could be a property which is held as joint tenants by Mr T (the deceased) and his former partner Ms M. Research shows they were never married and Ms M left the UK decades ago. Genealogists can find no current records relating to Ms M. The executors now want to apply to the court to transfer the property into the sole name of Mr T. The executors can then sell the property and distribute the sale proceeds to the beneficiaries of Mr T’s estate. The executors believe that the judge would look more favourable on their application if they are seen to be protecting the interests of Ms M; that they are not simply applying to “disinherit” Ms M from her half share of the property. The court can then make their judgement subject to the insurance policy being taken out and if in the future Ms M appears, she can claim against the insurance policy for her half share of the sale proceeds.

Another example is applying for a Presumption of Death Order at court. A missing beneficiary policy can be part of that application to the court. In the unlikely event the missing person, who is the subject of the Order, is actually alive, the missing beneficiary policy will protect the executors and beneficiaries of the estate against claims from this person, seeking to regain their assets. In Scotland, insurance is nearly always required by the courts, under the Presumption of Death (Scotland) Act 1977 Section 6, against the risk of a person having an interest in the deceased’s estate and seeking to have the decree varied or recalled. Again, the insurance is seen as protecting the interests of the subject.

If you have a case you wish to discuss where insurance may assist your application to the court, please contact Kate Thorp, Manager – Executor & Inheritance Protection, DUAL Asset Underwriting – (0)20 7337 8775 – kthorp@dualgroup.com

BLOG | Property Hijack – This Time It’s Personal

In an overheating housing market, can conveyancers protect themselves and clients for this growing threat?

When the system fails, nosy neighbours prevail - at least in the case of one property hijack victim, an elderly man going to stay in a care home. The fraudster was his daughter (classy girl), spotting an easy opportunity to make herself £340,000.

According to Today’s Conveyancer, cops, lenders and conveyancers, were all none the wiser, until the neighbours spotted removal men decanting the homeowner’s worldly possessions into their truck.

The diabolical daughter got three years, but will no doubt be out in one, if she starts to behave herself.

Not the biggest disincentive to misbehave, so when combined with news last week that there are only 900 police officers to detect and investigate fraud in this country, we need look no further to see why property fraud is rising so quickly.

High profile cases, such as Dreamvar and property development company P&P have helped to highlight the issue and bring it to the fore, but this is a growing problem that is escalating fast.

The Land Registry is certainly making every effort to stop this happening. Their counter fraud unit works closely with the police and other agencies to reduce the risk of property fraud. They have prevented in excess of £130M of attempted property fraud in this year alone. A brilliant effort, given their meagre resources.

In the last 5 years, the number of successful cases has tripled. In 2017, property fraud cost UK homeowners just under £25M.

Who is most at risk?

Alasdair Lewis, director of legal services at the Land Registry recently commented: “Property is a high-value asset and therefore an attractive target for fraudsters. Your property, even your family home, can be sold and mortgaged to raise money without you even knowing. Fixing the mess can be distressing, time-consuming and costly.”

Common cases typically involve people selling properties that they don’t own to innocent third parties. Particularly at risk are mortgage free homeowners, landlords and any home not registered at HM Land Registry. Many properties are being advertised on auction sites, such as eBay or Gumtree, but they are not legally owned by the seller.

In the Dreamvar and P&P examples, the fraud carried out was relatively simple. A person posed as a homeowner through taking out a tenancy, then found a buyer, engaged solicitors and made off with the cash. The owner of the property had no idea it was going on. The solicitors involved did nothing wrong it seems, all the relevant checks were made, yet an innocent buyer was out of pocket.

Recent cases have been more complicated.

There’s a trend for utilising multiple bank accounts and clever marketing ploys or non-existent investment schemes. In more extreme scams, fraudsters are hacking into a buyer’s or solicitor’s email and asking for the purchase money to be transferred to a different account.

Everyone puts a huge amount of pressure on conveyancing solicitors to complete sales quickly. It’s a big part of the overall problem. A committed fraudster can quite easily obtain forged identity documents, making it difficult to establish if people are who they say they are.

Court of Appeal rulings have concluded a fraudulent seller’s solicitor may be held liable for losses to a buyer. This emphasises the importance of thorough identity checks.

Property hijack is an issue that shows no signs of stopping, and with the overheated housing market is likely to escalate further. Many cases still go unreported and the effects on the victims can be financially and emotionally devastating.

How homeowners can reduce the risk of becoming a victim

The Land Registry launched a monitoring service called Property Alert, which will notify you by email if there has been certain activity involving the register of the property. You can then decide whether or not the activity is suspicious and take action. It is vital to keep your contact details up to date. Then there is an RQ request, which prevents the Land Registry from registering any sale on the property unless it’s certified by your solicitor.

These are certainly steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

How conveyancers can protect themselves

In the Dreamvar case, the High Court judge David Railton QC took into account the hardship the financial loss would bring to them and deemed their legal firm Mishcon de Reya to be in a better position to make good the financial loss. It was a landmark decision which rocked the property industry and the legal profession.

A combination of high quality legal services and transactional “no-fault” insurance can pick up the pieces.

There is no simple solution to this issue and fraudsters are continuously finding new ways to exploit the housing market. Until the industry shuts down all potential avenues, fraud insurance is the only effective way to protect against this problem - for both homeowners and their legal representatives.

To read more about our fraud policy click here.

To find out more, contact us on +44 (0)207 337 6461 or assetunderwriting@dualgroup.com

BLOG | Better Late Than Never For A Missing Beneficiary

Claims Corner

DUAL Asset issued a missing beneficiary policy in June 2018. This is part of the suite of products issued by our Executors & Inheritance team. It is a policy that enables Trustees to confidently distribute the wishes of a will, without the concern that a missing beneficiary will turn up later in the process and sue for their share. The Trustees could of course choose not to distribute the missing beneficiary’s portion, but quite often the Trustees are non-professional people and the inconvenience of having to keep an estate open in case someone turns up – against buying a policy to cover them against a future event makes the policy very compelling.

The Estate of the deceased was not huge, but from the Trustees viewpoint was complicated by the fact that there were 28 beneficiaries for the Trustees/lawyers to identify and to which to distribute the proceeds. As well as covering themselves from future claims, it also enabled the other beneficiaries to receive their distribution in a timely manner. This was particularly important to some of the beneficiaries as they were small local charities, who depend on this type of generosity.

The lawyer was able to identify all 27 of the other beneficiaries, but the 28th proved more difficult. In response to this situation the lawyer contacted DUAL Asset and took out a missing beneficiary policy for £250. There was a telephone number for the beneficiary, but the lawyer could not get an answer.

In October 2018, we were contacted by the lawyer to say that the daughter of the missing beneficiary had contacted him to get her share of the estate. It transpired that the original missing beneficiary had died shortly after the will of the deceased had been found and this is probably why the daughter initially did not know she was entitled to anything from the Estate. However, on reviewing her Father’s affairs, she listened to the answering machine message left by the lawyer and realised that she may have a claim on the Estate.

Once we received the papers proving the daughter’s identity, we agreed the claim with the lawyer and sent the money across, so the estate could settle the claim. The settlement was small (around £1600), but none the less, the policy enabled peace of mind for the Trustees to distribute the Estate knowing that if a claim arose in the future DUAL Asset would take care of it.

So peace of mind for the Trustees and a case of better late than never for the Beneficiary.

BLOG | Missing Beneficiary Insurance

A question we get asked all the time is, “would you consider providing missing beneficiary insurance without full genealogical research?

The person asking can be a solicitor in the midst of administrating a small estate, where the deceased’s family, or large parts of it, are unknown.

What they’re really asking is, “How far do I have to go trace people?” Because in this situation, solicitors face the real risk that there will be little, or nothing, left to pay the estate beneficiaries even if they are eventually traced.

How far do you go with attempting to trace the beneficiaries and researching the family tree?

If there are no close family, preliminary searches may find numerous aunts and uncles on both paternal and maternal sides of the family. In Scotland you may also be faced with researching one generation further back into the grandparents’ families. This makes research even more challenging, costly and lengthy.

Usually a solicitor will make a decision to research one side of the family only, for example the maternal side, after some preliminary research is carried out,” says Kate Thorp, Manager of DUAL Asset’s Inheritance & Protection team.

Perhaps an initial search has shown some of the paternal family have moved abroad for example, or the paternal family is far more extensive than the maternal side."

The paternal side can then be insured and cover provided to protect the administrators/executors and traced maternal beneficiaries, in the event a paternal beneficiary comes forward at a later date and makes a claim on the estate.

This particular way of insuring can assist the solicitor greatly in managing the cost of research and ultimately, could also speed up the distribution of the estate, as less time will be spent on researching the family tree.

Another common problem are historic funds.

We often get asked to insure monies held for many years, even decades.” says Kate Thorp.

In such cases, there simply isn’t enough money to carry out any research, or paperwork has been lost or destroyed.

To clear the money from their firm’s account, the solicitor wants to donate the money to a local charity - but they do not want to “disinherit” the missing beneficiary."

A policy will protect the missing beneficiary’s interest in the event they do come forward in the future – and some good comes from the money going to a charity, instead of just sitting in a bank account, unclaimed.

If you have a small estate, where you are facing challenges in managing research costs, contact Kate Thorp at DUAL Asset:

+44 (0)20 7337 8775

NEWS | Here's To A Fantastic Five Years

DUAL Asset Underwriting is officially five years old. To celebrate, we held a client drinks reception at The Victorian Bathhouse on 18th October.

Built in 1895, the Victorian Bath House survived the blitz and surrounding redevelopment. The venue befitted DUAL Asset, a company formed out of an old institution and built to challenge the historic norms of title insurance.

The night began in typically robust fashion, with the venue filling quickly with clients from around the world. Real estate developers from Australia mixed with aviation specialists from the United States and solicitors from Prague. The ‘canapés’ were excellent (despite everyone agreeing that fish and chips are not a canapé regardless of how small the serving bowl is).

The speeches were, bar an impromptu last minute intervention from Phil, kept short and to the point. Ian charted the dramatic rise of DUAL Asset, from a disruptive entrant to the market with four employees in Phil’s kitchen, to the largest provider of legal indemnity insurance in Europe.

Cocktails and gin flowed long into the night.

Five years is a short time to reach what we have achieved, but we could never had done so without our clients. Last night was for them. A thank you and show of appreciation for trusting us to find solutions where no-one else could.

We will strive to continually improve and innovate across the globe. Last night was a chance to reaffirm that promise.

Onwards to the next five!

NEWS | New Starter

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce that our team is once again expanding, with the addition of Karol Swietlicki. Karol will join our team in the Warsaw office, as a Business Development Manager.

Karol has a strong financial background, he gained experience by carrying out several company evaluations, financial due diligence and variuos restructuring projects in the areas of finance, accounting and controlling. He was also a CFO of two financial companies. He spent the last 6 years in the banking sector in Poland, where he was responsible for co-establishing the strategy in the area of saving and investment products for affluent and Private Banking customers in three banks (mBank, Alior Bank, Pekao).

Karol will head up DUAL Asset’s business development activities in the CEE region.

Karol says “Countries from the CEE region have progressed to being stable, developed economies. Corporate investors remain very positive on CEE, expecting strong consumer demand growth in the coming years. I hope we can all benefit from the region’s potential."

"The DUAL Asset Team are proactive professionals with impressive business experience. I’m looking forward to developing business in the CEE region, in cooperation with them.

Ian Keith, Managing Director at DUAL Asset, commented, “I am delighted that Karol has joined us in our Warsaw office. Having a local presence is imperative to continue our growth in CEE. Karol’s skill set and background will add real value to our insurance offering and I am sure this will just be the start of a growing team in Poland.

Contact Karol at DUAL Asset:

+48 (0)669 750 020

NEWS | DUAL Asset Underwriting wins at the ESTAS

DUAL Asset was recognised at the ESTAS Conveyancer Awards held on 20/10/18 at Grosvenor House in London, receiving the Silver award for their outstanding customer service. The event was attended by 400 of the UK’s top property lawyers.

Based purely on client feedback, The ESTAS determines the best conveyancers, agents, brokers and suppliers. Conveyancers are asked a series of questions about the service they have received from their suppliers. This years’ competition saw 8,000 surveys completed.

Mark Dennis said “We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised at this year’s ESTAS. This proves we deliver on what we promise. It means so much to us that our clients have judged our performance. We have always been very proud of our service, both through My Legal Indemnity Shop and the personal service provided on bespoke risks. We take our levels of customer service very seriously, because we know clients have a choice.

The ESTAS, the largest and longest running award scheme in the UK residential property industry, was sponsored by leading trade publication Inside Conveyancing.

The awards were announced by Phil Spencer, the TV property expert.

Spencer, who has hosted the ESTAS every year since their inception in 2003 addressed the audience, “The ESTAS are special awards because shortlisted and winning firms are selected purely on the service you deliver to your clients. Real feedback from real customers experiencing real service, I don’t think there can be a greater honour in the industry than to receive an award based on that mantra.

Simon Brown Founder of The ESTAS Group said “At the ESTAS we’re proud to say we believe in old fashioned values like customer service. We know how hard it is to deliver it and how important it is to customers, that’s why we put the spotlight on property firms who are committed to providing excellent service. The ESTAS brand helps generate consumer trust for all property professionals involved in the home moving process.

Tracy Burtwell, Sales Director at SearchFlow said “These awards have quickly become the benchmark for customer service in the conveyancing sector. With customer service being at the heart of what we stand for here at SearchFlow, we are delighted to be so closely aligned to The ESTAS and what it stands for - service excellence. Many congratulations to all of this year’s winners.”

For more information contact 0203 435 6282 and email assetunderwriting@dualgroup.com

NEWS | Mike Wright Is Back… Again

After retiring from DUAL Asset almost 3 years ago for family reasons, Mike has re-joined as a Business Development Consultant. He brings back his vast experience of 34 years in Building Societies and Banks, where he held senior regional and head office positions. His areas of specialism were in commercial debt restructuring and recoveries and in growing intermediary business in retail banking. He followed this with 8 highly successful years as Business Development Director with First Title Insurance plc before joining DUAL Asset for almost 2 years before retiring.

Mike says “I am very excited to re-join DUAL Asset. The growth in the international and UK business has been phenomenal and the opportunity to be involved again was just too tempting to resist. What’s particularly exciting is the range of innovative and unique new products and services that are now available from DUAL Asset, such as Title to shares (on real estate deals and transactions involving no real estate), a hybrid title and W&I product and even aviation title insurance!

Ian Keith, Managing Director of DUAL Asset, commented, “It is great to have Mike back on board! His experience and expertise will be vital in helping us achieve our next set of targets and our continued growth. I have worked with Mike for several years now and I am very happy we have finally coaxed him out of retirement again. It was also a boost to this year’s financials to have the cost of his last retirement party and presents reimbursed.

Mike will be mainly working with customers in Birmingham and London, along with helping with the international business.

Mike can be contacted on +44 (0)7843 360011 and mwright1@dualgroup.com

BLOG | Claims Corner

People expect their house to be their castle and anything that interferes with this causes stress and high emotions. We’ve all heard of dogged fights between neighbours, large legal fees and sometimes people being forced to sell up and move altogether.

It is very unusual however, to fall out with a neighbour who seemingly does not exist.

Nice little buy-to-let

One recent claim in South London, the insured, who we’ll call “Mr I” had bought a suburban property as buy-to-let. It looked a great rental opportunity: good house, nice area, off road parking…

Along the side of the property ran a driveway. As part of the purchase process, Mr I discovered that there were no rights relating to said driveway, although it had been used for more than 10 years by the seller. In fact, they’d even placed a garden shed on the driveway, using the remainder for parking cars.

The driveway was a crucial part of the equation for Mr I; the property would have been more difficult to let without the benefit of off-road parking.

He was sufficiently concerned to purchase a policy from DUAL Asset to cover the eventuality that the neighbour tried to enforce rights over the driveway and/or stop the insured from using it.

‘Mystery Man’ appears

One day, about a year after the sale went through, a man appeared in the driveway and began digging. Claiming to be acting for the neighbouring property, he was conducting rudimentary works to lay utilities for an annexe constructed at the back of that property.

Mr I called DUAL to see what to do.

We agreed that their solicitor should write to the landlord next door to assert Mr I’s rights, but when we looked at the title to the property we found it was owned by a British Virgin Islands company. The forwarding address was a firm of solicitors who claimed they were no longer instructed by the landlord.

DUAL Asset was left in the unusual position of having a neighbour dispute with no neighbour to reach a resolution with.

What DUAL did next

We moved quickly to try and secure Mr I’s position.

Notices were served on the adjoining properties and securing the access to the driveway, so it could not be accessed or used by ‘the neighbour.’

We carried out remedial works to the trenches dug by the Mystery Man, so the driveway could again be used for parking, and also managed to serve a notice threatening an injunction on the Mystery Man who dug the trenches.

Finally, we applied to the land registry for title to the driveway on the grounds of adverse possession – and successfully registered the title to the relevant part of the driveway.

NEWS | Why choose DUAL Private Client

Does your client have a love for high end cars, jewellery, home cinemas, arts, antiques or even luxury holidays? DUAL Private Client, BIBA’s High Net Worth scheme provider, will tailor all insurance policies to meet an individual’s requirements to protect their most important homes and possessions. All of our products are A+ rated (Standard & Poor’s) and will provide your client with peace of mind protection in the event of a claim, with some of the broadest cover in the High Net Worth market.

Why choose DUAL Private Client?

  • A simple process. Arranging personal insurances shouldn’t be complex. Here at Private Client, we make the process easy by accepting a previous schedule, telephone call, risk submission or a submission via our online platform, straight to the Underwriter’s inbox. In the event of a claim a dedicated Claims Handler will continue this ease; our current customer satisfaction survey result is 98% excellent with 2% good, largely due to the simple nature of reporting claims to our team and the speed of settlement.
  • A personal service. You will be allocated a dedicated underwriter for new and existing business. We’ll come out to see you personally if that’s what you’d prefer. We will take the time to get to know you and your client’s needs, so that they have the right level of protection in the event of a claim.
  • A tailored insurance policy. We know that every client is different. That’s why we will design a bespoke policy to protect your home, possessions and your valuable cars,with the convenience of one renewal date should you opt to do so. In addition, we can provide cover for your holiday homes, including overseas properties. This gives you the simplicity of one point of contact to manage insurance cover for all of the things that matter to you all under one roof.

For more information, please contact Rhiannon Holdham, the Senior Development Underwriter at DUAL Private Client on 020 7426 5292, 07973 517927 or rholdham@dualgroup.com

BLOG | Claims Corner - Romanian Overlapping Claim

DUAL Asset underwriting has led the way in providing cover in the CEE over the last 5 years. One of the biggest risks that we see is restitution claims and going hand-in-hand with those are potential overlapping rights.

Restitution claims are clearly a bigger concern as, generally speaking, the challenge will impact the ownership of the entire building. Whilst our experience suggests it is very unlikely that a court would revert ownership to the former owner, a payment for the property is usually inevitable. Specialist valuation surveyors, who advise the court on potential settlements, calculate such payments.

Each of the CEE countries have these risks in their respective land registries, but some, like Poland for example, are far more organised and advanced than countries such as Romania. DUAL Asset has, within its experienced underwriting team, a wealth of expertise and experience working in these areas and especially in understanding the Romanian marketplace.

We recently dealt with a potential overlapping claim, where a developer had sought insurance for a number of risks, including the possibility that the development site could be affected by overlapping rights.

Some months after the purchase of the site, the Parish came back to challenge the Insured’s ownership to part of the site on the grounds of a number of small overlapping rights issues. DUAL Asset defended the Insured’s position, using both the Insured’s preferred lawyer and our own counsel, and it was agreed that the parties should attend mediation in order to establish the level of loss that we were potentially facing.

The Parish were offered €20,000 for the disputed land in an attempt to resolve the claim quickly, however, their expectations were far higher than we had anticipated; €300,000 was their counter-offer. Whilst we know that the court’s decision on these types of claims is not necessarily clear-cut, as with any litigation the process is costly, prolonged and uncertain. Had we proceeded down this route, it was likely that the Parish could have obtained an interim freezing order preventing the Insured from selling the development site, which would have resulted in financing and cash-flow issues. We agreed that the Insured should go back to mediation with a view to trying to settle the matter quickly and luckily the parties came to an agreement at a sum of €150,000; a huge saving on the Parish’s initial demand!

The Insured was delighted with the way in which DUAL Asset handled their claim. Having taken a swift and commercial view, DUAL Asset were able to resolve the claim within a few months, meaning that disruption to the development and the Insured’s funding was minimal.

BLOG | Restrictive Covenants - The Cost of Modification

To modify or not to modify? That is the question faced by the Tribunal in an abundance of recent decisions.

The answer is largely the former, with most applications to modify restrictive covenants based on ground (aa) of Section 84(1) Law of Property Act 1925, being successful. That is, that the covenant impedes the reasonable user of the subject property.

The decision of the Upper Tribunal Land Committee (UTLC) is, of course, discretionary. So there isn’t a formula as to how to present a case to achieve a guaranteed favourable outcome. Though there are some trends.

Obtaining planning permission is important. Instructing objective surveyors to provide unbiased and realistic value calculations is a must. Good behaviour is also critical; where parties do not conduct themselves in a reasonable manner they could see the pendulum of favour swinging away.

The recent UTLC case law has established that where they have found that the covenants should be modified/released under s.84, the loss of the objector must be considered and, where appropriate, compensation must be paid. In broad terms, these cases look at the market value of the injured property and apply a percentage to cover a drop in that value.

The method of calculating this percentage seems haphazard and leans more on the discretionary “what feels right” side of decision making, however a trend is emerging. Here is my brief review of some of those recent cases:

Re Pottier’s Application [2010] UKUT 206 (LC), 2.5%

  • Decision summarised at paragraph 42: “There is likely to be a marginal effect upon the amenity of the property arising from the construction of a house close to the boundary and the associated risk that the existing tree screen will not survive in the long term. In my opinion the diminution in the value of the objector’s property arising from the modification of the restriction would be 2.5% or £6,875 when applied to the existing value of £275,000.”
  • The objector’s house was in a poor state of repair and their surveyor insisted that the compensation should be based on the value once improved (£350,000). This argument was rejected.

Re Perkins’ Application [2012] UKUT 300 (LC), £2k

  • The UTLC had originally erroneously found that the act of constructing the dwelling would constitute a breach of the covenants, which conflicts with the decision in Shepherd v Turner [2006] EWCA Civ 8. The objectors put weight on damage to the road rather than loss in value to their properties. (Though see Theodossiades below!)
  • When considering the above point anew, the UTLC compared the development works required for a new dwelling to be equal to the improvement works on an existing dwelling on the same street. The latter was not in breach, but still represents the same annoyance.
  • The case then focusses on loss of views, which is found to be negligible and worthy “only” of £2,000 to the immediately adjoining neighbour. No science is offered to confirm from where this figure emerges.

Re Rae’s Application [2016] UKUT 0552 (LC), <2% - £5k and £2.5k

  • At paragraph 4, it is stated that: “Under s.84(1B) the UTLC is required to take into account the development plan and any declared or ascertained pattern for the grant or refusal of planning permission in the relevant areas…”
  • Decision summarised at paragraph 76: “Doing the best we can, we consider that the diminution in value, is in the order of £5,000 in respect of [No.11], and £2,500 in respect of [No.10]. These figures would amount to less than 2% of the likely value of the properties, even assuming the lowest of [the surveyors] range of values. We do not consider those figures to be substantial.”
  • “Substantial” confirmed to mean “considerable, solid, big” – referencing Shepherd v Turner.
  • Covenant modified with a requirement for adequate fencing to protect privacy.

Hennessey v Kent [2017] UKUT 243 (LC), 5% - £21k

  • UTLC held it to be correct to modify, as the proposed use was reasonable and planning permission had been granted.
  • Agreed that Kent would suffer loss and awarded him £21,000.
  • Modified covenant to allow the development on the basis that it wasn’t used for residential care.

Re Barter [2017] UKUT 451 (LC) - the UTLC found there to be a lack of evidence to quantify a compensation payment

  • Applicant wished to construct 13 new flats in breach of a covenant not to build any additional buildings for residential use.
  • Held that the covenant was primarily imposed to secure a share in future development value.
  • In this case the application failed, because it was imposed a mere 4 years ago and the applicant was the original covenantor. Were that not the case, the covenant would have been extinguished without compensation.

Re Theodossiades [2017] UKUT 0461, £8,100 – based on 18 months of reduced income (10%) during construction.

  • The applicant’s main claim was that the covenants impede the reasonable use. UTLC found the proposed use to be reasonable on the basis that planning permission had been granted.
  • Although the covenants impede the development, they do provide “some practical benefits to the objectors,” though these are not of substantial value or advantage.
  • Representation for the objectors estimated a 5-10% diminution in value. In light of development in the neighbouring area and past breaches of the “loose scheme” of covenants, UTLC held that will not affect the benefiting properties. BUT…
  • £8,100 was awarded to one neighbour due to the temporary disturbance during the construction works. This represented a 10% loss in rental value, based on £4,250 per month, £51k per annum and an estimated build duration of 18 months.
  • Covenants modified to ensure the development was carried out in accordance with the planning permission.

Re Geall [2018] UKUT 0154 (LC), 2.5% - £65k

  • UTLC inclined to modify the restrictive covenant on the basis that:
    • Planning permission had been granted and therefore the use was reasonable.
    • The drop in value of the objector’s property was not substantial. Even though most of us would consider £65k to be a substantial sum, it wasn’t compared to the full property value of £2.6m.
  • The covenant was modified to reflect the works granted by the planning permission.

The summaries set out above do not contain details of the legal costs that will have accrued and are payable by both sides. Those readers with experience of this process will have an idea as to what the final tallies may be. It is worth highlighting that Perkins reached the Court of Appeal and then back down to the Tribunal again.

Commentary on Geall has questioned the value in the imposition of future restrictive covenants in the first place, when they can be extinguished or modified, as demonstrated in the above series of decisions.

In my view, these cases and DUAL Asset’s claims experience, demonstrate that restrictive covenants still keep their very large teeth sharp. Although the amounts of the awards do vary in sum (though not so much the percentage), a developer will need to be pretty committed to stomach the costs of getting the application through.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Wesley Timothy
Senior Underwriter
+44 (0)161 457 1299

BLOG | Estates, Wills and Insurance - an interview with Kate Thorp

Who are DUAL Asset Underwriting?

DUAL Asset is part of the DUAL Group, Lloyd’s largest underwriting agency. We have offices in London, Manchester and Norwich and our underwriters are specialists in underwriting complex and contentious probate and legal indemnity risks. My name is Kate Thorp and I manage the probate team. I personally have over 20 years of experience in insuring contentious probate issues, where the estate distribution is being held up because of a known dispute or issue. It’s an interesting area of insurance to work in and we have a wide range of products available.

What are the main risks that exist when administering an estate?

I would say it is someone coming out of the woodwork and contesting the will (if there is a will) and/or making a claim for financial provision. Proprietary estoppel claims seem to be on the increase as well. These claims can be notoriously difficult to defend from our experience. Also, with modern society, it is more common that foreign nationals are the beneficiaries of an estate. Not only can they sometimes be difficult to trace, depending on their country of residence, but even when they are traced, establishing they are the correct person, can be difficult. Identity documents cannot always be relied upon, which presents difficulties for the personal representative, as they may be paying the wrong person. Fraud is very much on everyone’s mind in the legal profession at the moment with the recent Dreamvar case, so we are seeing an increase in these types of cases.

Do you deal with the public who are administrating an estate?

Individuals are often appointed as the administrator or executor. It’s not always a professional who is appointed. They should still consider obtaining legal advice though in my view. At DUAL Asset, we can only deal with cases where a professional is involved in administering the estate. We need to know that a full disclosure is being made to us as part of the insurance proposal and the person concerned is receiving the correct legal advice.

Is missing will insurance taken out on all intestate estates?

Definitely not. There is no compulsory will registration in the UK. Even search companies who carry out a will search for an estate, cannot guarantee their search result is absolute. I have spoken to many lawyers who cast doubt on the validity of these search results. I know of some solicitor firms who do not even look for a will in their records when they receive a search request from a will search company. I also know of a firm who replied and said they did have a record of the person making a will with their firm, but the will search company did not reply. I can only assume the search result went out to the client, as negative. I would definitely consider taking out missing will insurance to back up these searches if I were the personal representative.

Is comprehensive insurance taken out on all estates?

DUAL Asset conceived this type of policy, taking the “all risks” title indemnity policy as the inspiration. Not all estates take out this cover, even though it is relatively low cost, especially when you consider what legal costs could amount to in dealing with a claim, whether there is a basis to that claim or not. The legal bill will be in the thousands after just a couple of bits of correspondence. I believe solicitors should at least be telling their client about this comprehensive product and giving their client the option to take the cover, or not. If they do not tell their client and there is a claim, their client may say the solicitor has been negligent in not disclosing to them the availability of insurance, especially if the claim cannot be recoverable against the solicitors PI insurer, leaving the client on their own to pay the claim or try and recover from the beneficiaries.

What is your most expensive claim?

It was an estate where we had claims from two individuals six months after the policy was issued. The claims were proprietary estoppel and undue influence by the deceased’s family in “forcing” the deceased to change their will to exclude the claimants. We ended up settling at mediation and the amount paid out was around £280,000 with legal costs. Not bad for an £800 insurance policy! The insurance allowed the deceased’s family to keep the family home.

What can’t you insure?

We don’t like to decline risks. If we do, then they are usually “obvious” declines, such as the deceased’s child has been traced, but is not replying to correspondence and we are asked to provide missing beneficiary cover. We always try and give clients a couple of options for contentious risks as well, where someone has come out of the woodwork and has made “noises” that they intend to challenge the deceased’s will, using an excess and different premium options. This helps the client balance the cost of the insurance.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Kate Thorp
Manager-Executor & Inheritance Protection
+44 (0)207 337 8775

BLOG | Conveyancers could be liable for millions relating to property fraud

Under recommended new reforms to the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002), conveyancers in England and Wales (and their Professional Indemnity insurers) who fail to take reasonable steps to confirm clients’ identities may be liable for millions of pounds to the HM Land Registry.

Since 2009, HM Land Registry has prevented 279 property fraud scams worth a total of £133m. 700 "bogus conveyancer scams" were detected in 2017.

The Law Commission, however, say that the LRA 2002 needs to be refreshed to adapt it to the modern world and make things as efficient as possible, so that it will “help prevent fraud and make conveyancing faster, easier and cheaper for everyone.”

The importance of land registration

In this country, land registration underpins conveyancing by providing one single, central source of information on the ownership of land. It guarantees that what the land register says about ownership is true.

It tells purchasers that the seller has the right to transfer ownership, and whether anyone else has an interest in the land, such as a right of way or a mortgage.

Entry on the register is enough to prove ownership – it is a guarantee of title backed up by a state indemnity if things go wrong.

25 million properties registered

85% of land in England and Wales is now registered with HM Land Registry, totalling 25 million titles. The remaining 15% will be registered when a property is sold or otherwise transferred.

The Government has set up a service where property owners can take steps to protect their property from being fraudulently sold or mortgaged.

If a title has been fraudulently transferred and recorded on a register by the Land Registry, victims are able to claim indemnity.

The Law Commission says the registry has paid almost £60m in indemnity payments over the past decade, due to fraud taking place on registered land.

Now, however, a ‘duty of care’ will be imposed by the Commission under the new reforms, to ensure that conveyancers make the necessary efforts to check a client’s identity.

Those conveyancers who fail to make the checks would then be charged by the registry.

The proposed amendments to the legislation to help tackle fraud include:

  • enabling HM Land Registry to set the reasonable steps that conveyancers must undertake to verify the identity of their clients, to help root out fraudsters;
  • imposing a duty of care on conveyancers with respect to identity checks, based on the directions issued by HM Land Registry;
  • if a conveyancer fails to meet his or her duty with respect to identity checks, ensuring that HM Land Registry has a right of recourse against the conveyancer to recover the amount HM Land Registry paid for the loss caused by the fraud.

Conveyancers who follow the required steps won’t be responsible if fraud still happens.

The Commission states: “Our reforms ensure that the financial consequences of fraud fall on the minority of conveyancers, who do not exercise appropriate due diligence. They will also encourage best practice in the profession, and, by providing a standard set of checks, give clarity and certainty to conveyancers about their obligations in respect of identity checks.”

The full report on recommended changes to the LRA 2002 can be found here.

Anti-money laundering rules already exist for both Licensed Conveyancers and Solicitors, respectively the joint Law Society and Land Registry guidance note on Property and Title Fraud issued 8 September 2017 and Anti-Money Laundering & Combating Terrorist Financing Guidance issued December 2017 by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.

We welcome these suggestions because shockingly, many firms that we have spoken to openly admit that they do not routinely comply with them or follow up suspicions raised during the conveyancing process.

DUAL Asset can help

Despite strong counter-measures, well executed, professional fraud will not be eradicated, leaving consumers at risk of losing their savings and homes. When conveyancers decide not to follow existing guidance, the scope for things to go wrong for a client rockets.

Our latest policy, I.D. Fraud Insurance, insures the risk of loss caused by identity fraud, perpetrated by a seller or person pretending to the actual owner. For £30 (plus IPT), a property value of up to £500,000 is insured for as long as the consumer owns the property.

At DUAL, we understand that the role of a conveyancer is a complicated one and that is why we offer bespoke conveyancing insurance solutions under our DUAL Asset brand to protect clients and their most valuable investment.

To find out more, please use the contact details below:

+44 (0)207 337 6461

NEWS | New Starter

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce that our team is once again expanding, with the addition of Megan Eustace. Megan has joined our Underwriting Team in the London office, as an Assistant Underwriter.

Ian Keith, Managing Director for DUAL Asset Underwriting, commented: “Megan is another exciting addition to the DUAL Asset team. Albeit this is her first role in insurance, she comes from a strong legal background. Megan joined us for some work experience in the summer and made such an impression in her short time with us that we had to make her a permanent employee!”


Megan studied Law with European Legal Systems (LLB) at the University of East Anglia, with a year abroad at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Having partaken in various legal work internships within the property and probate sectors, Megan has been able to develop the knowledge and skills necessary.

Megan Says: “I’m looking forward to learning how I can apply my skill set to the challenges and opportunities facing DUAL Asset. I will bring hard work, diligence and a willingness to develop both professionally and personally.”

Her experiences travelling, studying and working in other diverse job roles has enabled her to become a skilled communicator and listener, with the ability to focus on attention to detail, whilst completing tasks to a high level and in an efficient manner.

BLOG | A Landlord’s right to develop - Flat out of luck?

Picture buying your dream flat. A penthouse apartment in an upmarket area of the city. Your balcony providing you with stunning views of the city and uninterrupted light for those rare sunny days. Until, that is, you are served a notice that your landlord intends to add extra floors to your property. A new balcony from the flat above will now block your light and the once top floor apartment is now just one of many in the block.

These are the situations where leasehold covenants are supposed to protect the lessee, but there is confusion as to just how much protection they offer. Developers too have to contend with uncertainty when they buy freeholds with the intention of renovating and developing. A freeholder may deliberately reserve his right to develop, only to be thwarted by an interpretation of the covenant to quiet enjoyment.

It is a general rule that the freeholder owns the airspace above a property. Port v Griffith [1938] 1 All ER 295 states that the freeholder has the right to use the property as they please, regardless of detriment to the leaseholder. This has been the position in the courts since that judgement.

Whilst the freeholder may use his property as he likes, he may bind himself via covenants. Much like freehold covenants, these would prevent development actions, which could be of detriment to lessees. The most common of these is the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Whilst breach of this covenant can be used to prevent developments like the aforementioned, the position of the courts is not entirely clear. Timothy Taylor Limited v Mayfair House Corporation and Another [2016] EWHC 1075 (Ch) set out the key points for developers to consider, but they were limited to the scope of that case. In short, considerations of where scaffolding and hoists were placed became a material consideration, as did the landlord’s conduct and planning of the scheme. Breach is not limited to the development itself, but excessively noisy tenants in the new flat could cause a breach as it did in Southwark LBC v Mills [1999] 3 W.L.R. 939.

The example above seems rather clear cut, in that the loss of a balcony would be a material breach of quiet enjoyment. However, whilst the recent case of Francia Properties Ltd v Aristou & Ors [2017] L. & T.R. 5 acknowledges loss of sunlight as potentially a breach, the judge ruled that the new balcony would not ‘materially’ or ‘substantially’ affect the use of the balcony.

How do we resolve this? For leaseholders, they should ensure that there are covenants which prevent development in their lease. These need to be clearly worded, as the claimant in Francia discovered when their arguments that the wording in the lease prohibited development came to nought.

For developers, the route is less clear. Careful attention to the wording of individual leases must be considered. If the lease does not prohibit development, then careful planning must be undertaken to minimise disruption to tenants. Conduct is key, similar to the current position in rights of light, where the developer’s behaviour will often play a key role in any judgement. The use of materials, sound-proofing and ensuring the new flats will not create issues for the current lessees are also important considerations.

The overall picture for a freeholder seeking to improve and expand their property is not an easy one. Whilst the rights of tenants should always be protected, insufficient planning could leave developers out of pocket and paying hefty legal fees. Thought should be given to legal indemnity insurance or escrow accounts to ensure developments are not stalled by vexatious litigants. Without one of these contingency plans, or a combination of both, a developer may find themselves out of pocket.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Adam Keith
+44 (0)207 337 8778

BLOG | Village Green Trigger Events

Like a pendulum, the law relating to the protection of village greens has swung with determination between the interests of the community and the interests of the developer. Currently, this rests with the latter.

The majority of case law has grown around establishing whether use of land is “as of right,” Section 15(2) and (3) of the Commons Act 2006. However, we now have the first ruling regarding trigger events, Cooper Estates Strategic Land Limited v Wiltshire Council [2018] EWHC 1704 (Admin).

Here, the High Court quashed a successful village green registration, because the subject land was included in the local Wiltshire Core Strategy (2015) as being capable of potential development.

Trigger and terminating events were introduced by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. One of the trigger events included in Schedule 1A of the Commons Act 2006 is that described above. It would no longer apply if Wiltshire Council had removed or modified the development plan, which is not the case.

Here, the question was whether the subject land was sufficiently identified in the development plan for potential development, so as to constitute a trigger event preventing the Town and Village Green (TVG) application.

It was held that a specific map was not necessary for identifying land and the reference in the core strategy to Royal Wootten Bassett having “potential for significant development” was enough.

As an underwriter, I do like to look beyond the case as presented and attempt to understand the motivations of the parties involved. At para. 23, there is reference to four planning applications having being made to develop the subject land. Being a curious chap (well… nosey), I decided to see if there might be anything revealing in the objection letters.

As you can see from the image above, there are currently unspoilt views across the neighbouring (undeveloped) field. As anticipated, the objections reveal some animosity towards the landowner, particularly as the landowner had not shown an interest in the area for 45 years, causing the residents to look after it, including holding an annual barbeque.

The committee report from October 2017 also sets out an interesting chronology, which I have padded out with the planning applications:

  • 2006 – a fence was erected around a previous open parcel. One wonders whether the Commons Act 2006 is a coincidence.
  • January 2015 – Landowner applies for planning permission for a new two-storey dwelling. Refused.
  • May 2015 – the gate is locked. Again, is there a legislative co-incidence here?
  • March 2016 – Application to register a TVG is received.
  • October 2016 – New application by the landowner for permission for a new two-storey dwelling. Refused.
  • October 2017 – land registered as a TVG.

TVG law has recently evolved on the concept that if a relevant group of the community wishes to protect land treated as a green (the subject land in this case was known as “the Green”), the mechanism to do so is available. That course of action shouldn’t be influenced by immediate circumstances that could jeopardise that enjoyment. The court suggests that this case is being heard due to poor communication, though perhaps the ability to protect such pieces of land should be more widely communicated to members of the public – a debate for another article perhaps.

Interestingly, since the date of this court hearing, a further planning application for the development of a bungalow has been registered at Wiltshire Council.

Leave to appeal has been refused.

As of Right

The court does not form a conclusion on the claimants implied permission argument, but there are references throughout the case.

The claimant lodged a second ground for quashing the registration, because the Commons Registration Authority (CRA) had been unfair in not considering their arguments about whether the land was being used “as of right.” The court rejected this, because the arguments were submitted too late to be included in the CRAs meeting and also re-established that fairness is a matter for the court to decide.

The author previously composed an article entitled ‘Of Signs of Portents’, where I described the importance of using appropriate signage to defeat prescription claims. As I have implied earlier in this paper, attempts to take back control of the land were made at times when TVG law was altered. Had the gate been locked and clear signage been erected and communicated at the time of the first planning application this may have been a much simpler case.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Wesley Timothy
Senior Underwriter
+44 (0)7395 789 024

NEWS | Sponsorship - The Aaron Lewis Foundation

DUAL Asset are proud to have once again sponsored the Aaron Lewis Foundation 10s (or ALF 10s), by providing the t-shirts for this year’s event and taking out an advert in the match-day programme.

The ALF 10s is a rugby tournament, which is the flagship event for the Aaron Lewis Foundation, a charity established in honour of, Lieutenant Aaron Lewis of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, who was tragically killed in action in Afghanistan on 15th December 2008. He was just 26 and on his first operational deployment.

Aaron wanted to make a difference in the world, bringing help to those in need. It was that belief which gave him the courage, hope and enthusiasm to deploy to Afghanistan.

Two years after his death, the Aaron Lewis Foundation was established by his family and friends to continue to make a difference in his memory. With unity and teamwork at its core, Aaron’s family, friends and former service colleagues work together to raise funds for causes close to Aaron’s heart, providing access to sport and wellbeing for all, while at the same time furthering his legacy.

The ALF 10s 2018 was the 10th time that the tournament has been held and the organisers report to us that the day was a huge success with thousands of pounds being raised for a host of very deserving charities and causes.

DUAL Asset have been associated with the ALF 10s for three years running and hope to continue to back this fantastic charity for many years to come.

Well done to all involved.

BLOG | How certain can you be that the deceased did not make a will?

With no compulsory will registration in the UK, where do you go to look for a will following someone’s death? The person looking for the will may face an uphill struggle trying to find one. If it’s not with the deceased’s bank, in their house, or care home, and it doesn’t appear that the deceased had a solicitor, then where is it? At this point, most people will turn to a professional to carry out a number of searches to assist them with the search.

A number of companies offer a will search service, which includes contacting solicitors and will writing companies, in the area where the deceased was known to have last lived. But what if your knowledge of the deceased and their movements and their history is limited?

“Take myself as an example,” says Kate Thorp, DUAL’s Inheritance Protection Manager. “I live in Kent and have done so for the last 20 years. I came from the Midlands originally and my will is held by a firm of solicitors in Manchester. It is held there because I have a personal attachment to someone at this firm and trust them. What happens 20 years down the line though? What if I become a hermit and my cat eats all the paperwork relating to my will? I am sure no one would think to check with a firm of solicitors in Manchester after I died to see if they held my will.”

"When a solicitor or will writer receives a request to search for a will from a will search company, how would one know if they carry out the search and check their records? The simple answer is, you don’t. There is often no requirement for a reply to be sent to the will search company. Silence is treated the same as the solicitor confirming they have no record of a will. Having spoken to numerous solicitors over the years, I know there are firms out there in the UK who simply ignore these search requests, usually sent by email. Firms are not always checking their internal records. “It is impossible to know how widespread this practice is”, says Kate Thorp, “but it certainly should be a concern to those people who rely on these search results when distributing an estate and doing so with the belief that there is no will out there.”

“Stand-alone missing will insurance has never been as popular as other types of inheritance insurance policies, which has always mystified me,” says Kate Thorp. “A solicitor seems fully prepared to take out missing beneficiary insurance to insure a missing aunt due £20,000, last known to have travelled to Canada in the 1920s, who would now be aged 123 and who no one has seen or heard from for 97 years, but is not prepared to insure the risk that the deceased may have made a will and this will is sitting in the vault of an office somewhere, anywhere, in the UK, leaving their entire £500,000 estate to Battersea Dogs Home. Which risk is higher and more likely to result in a claim and a large claim at that?”

Will searches can be imperfect. DUAL Asset provides missing will insurance and also comprehensive probate insurance, which includes will cover.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Kate Thorp
Manager – Inheritance & Estate Protection
+44 (0)20 7337 8775

BLOG | CLAIMS CORNER - Electrifying work from DUAL Asset

DUAL Asset recently helped a major developer (the insured) with an issue on one of their developments. The original policy was for mines and minerals coverage and then DUAL Asset provided an endorsement for various way leaves and easements in favour of the Electricity Board, in particular a 1985 Deed.

The 1985 Deed was entered into by the then landowner to facilitate the laying of an electrical cable to serve the buildings on the site; the cable did not supply any third parties. Those buildings were now being demolished pending redevelopment, meaning the cable was now redundant.

In addition, the development proposals would mean that new electricity infrastructure would be required to serve the new constructions.

The insured wished to sell the development site, but the buyer did not want to purchase the property with the power line running through it and the 1985 Deed in place, the concern being that the electricity company could halt development and hold them to ransom by insisting the cable remains in situ under the terms of the express easement.

The insured contacted us in accordance with the policy terms to approach the utility provider to move the power cable to a new position, so as to not interfere with the development and seek a surrender of the 1985 Deed. The power cable was subsequently moved with the agreement of the utility provider for no cost to the insured. There was therefore no claim on the policy.

However, because it was a major developer and a national law firm, DUAL Asset agreed to make an ex gratis payment towards the insured’s legal fees. The insured was delighted with this and the manner in which DUAL Asset had enabled them to move the power line and proceed with their development without delay…

BLOG | Contract Specific Insurance from DUAL Olivia

At DUAL Oliva we have created a Contract Specific Insurance Package for those requiring single project insurance cover. Our policy is designed to encompass all the elements of a building project in one, expertly underwritten package as well as provide help and advice with Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) contracts too.

With minimum premiums starting from just £500 +IPT, this bespoke product can cover the contract works and other insurance requirements under contract– all under one policy.

Help with JCT

As well as providing a fast turnaround, DUAL Oliva can help explain contractual requirements and the finer details of the contract wordings.

We can also provide the necessary paperwork for lenders, lawyers, employers and contractors such as joint names wording, first loss payee and non-vitiation clauses.

We are really excited about this offering – which also underwrites projects up to a generous £50mil GWP – and hope you are too.

Here are some of the benefits

  • Option to include existing structures
  • Option to include Advanced Loss of Profits/Rent or Delayed Start-Up
  • Option to include Public Liability
  • Option to include JCT 6.5.1 cover
  • Option to include Plant cover
  • Option to include terrorism

The ‘Oliva DNA+’ innovative theft deterrent included free of charge – enjoy a 50% theft excess reduction following registered application of your free DNA+ kit

  • Unlimited Continuing Hire Charges
  • Exclusive quotes, with each risk assessed on its own merits
  • A+ rated security
  • Access to experienced underwriters offering a fast and flexible service
  • Minimum premiums start from £500 +IPT
  • Northern Ireland risks considered

Who is this product made for?

  • Builders, developers and project employers
  • Non-renewable UK residential and commercial building projects
  • Building projects up to 60 month contract period

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Craig Miller
Construction Underwriting Manager
+44 (0)203 318 8249

BLOG | CLAIMS CORNER - Multiple Claimants, Thwart Resolution

DUAL Asset has recently settled a difficult restrictive covenant case in South London. The case involved a developer (the Insured) who had purchased a piece of land and gained planning consent for the construction of two houses. The Property in question was subject to a restrictive covenant which stated that only one house could be built on the Property. No objection was made during the planning consultation period, however as soon as the Insured moved on site, the claimant surfaced and started threatening the developer with an injunction. DUAL Asset moved quickly to try and mitigate the situation, having first taken Counsel’s opinion on whether the restrictive covenant was enforceable.

It was soon clear that the claimant was looking to simply disrupt the development in order to gain some financial compensation. In order to mitigate this disruption DUAL Asset allowed the Insured to enter into negotiations with the claimant in order to try and reach a swift, commercial settlement.

Unfortunately this strategy became complicated by the discovery that the property which benefited from the restrictive covenant consisted of four flats, and that the flat owners did not get on. Each of the flat owners sought their own independent legal advice and turned what was likely to be a swift, commercial settlement into long and protracted negotiations. DUAL Asset supported the Insured and their lawyers through months of discussions, which resulted in the claimants accepting a six-figure settlement to split between themselves.

Whilst DUAL Asset tried to reach a sensible and quick resolution for the Insured, we were somewhat thwarted by the fact that the ‘claimant’ was in fact four individuals rather than one, and that each had their own independent legal advisor. Nonetheless, we achieved a resolution for the Insured which enabled them to continue developing their site and ultimately sell the properties as planned.

BLOG | Insurance in M&A Transactions

In the last 5 years, the insurance and corporate spheres have witnessed a rapid rise in the use of warranty and indemnity insurance for mergers and acquisitions, with it now being almost market standard to obtain a W&I policy in such deals.

As a natural consequence, other insurance-based products have developed alongside the W&I offering to provide other comforts for sellers and purchasers alike, most notably title insurance for shares and real estate warranties provided in share purchase agreements.

Whilst buyers or sellers will be arranging W&I Insurance for all of the warranties being provided by the seller in an M&A deal, this cover is generally capped at a nominal sum and covers the insured for a limited period. However, what happens if there is a catastrophic challenge in relation to the Fundamental Warranties pertaining to the title to the shares of the target or the real estate? Title to shares and real estate insurance offers buyers (and their lenders) protection to the full enterprise value of the deal for their ownership period, as well as allowing the seller to have a clean exit avoiding escrow and contingent liabilities.

Another positive of this cover is that it can include cover for not just the unknown risks, but also those risks that have been identified as part of the due diligence process. Common insured risks include missing share certificates, pre-emption rights, planning, zoning and permit breaches or challenges. This specific risk cover can then be underwritten accordingly and added to the policy.

The team at DUAL Asset Underwriting have been leading the way with this innovative insurance addition in the M&A world and have not only the most experience in the market at underwriting such deals, but also the largest capacity in the market.

Want to learn more?

The DUAL Asset Underwriting team can provide in-house training sessions to explain further.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Kirstin Nee
+44 (0)20 7337 9875

BLOG | Football's Not Coming Home...!

With the World Cup now over, it is easy to forget about the clubs for whom the new season is fast approaching. The UK is home to over 7,000 clubs. Each of these clubs will be spending the off season preparing for their future. For the bigger clubs, this can mean the construction of new facilities, new stadia or even a relocation to a new area entirely. These moves often come with financial pressures, but unknown or uninsured legal risks can also, damage a club.

The most recent club to fall victim of this is Chelsea with the £1bn redevelopment of Stamford Bridge affected by a light claim, as explored by my colleague Jess in the above article. This echoes the situation Tottenham found themselves in before Haringey Council stepped in to resolve the issue. The now abolished section 237 was used to compulsory purchase land needed for the development and defeat potential light claimants, as well as other easements and covenants, which affected the site. While light was the most pressing, an unknown claimant could come forward at any point, make a claim and force an abrupt halt to construction.

When it comes to stadium redevelopment, the timescales can be extremely tight. Tottenham faced the prospect of not having a ground after the temporary lease of Wembley expired. Fortunate fixtures means they have until September to have the stadium ready.

Not all clubs are lucky to have as supportive councils as Chelsea and Tottenham. Leicester found their attempt to build a new training ground blocked by a restrictive covenant enforced by Leicester City Council. The club were due to build a state of the art training centre just 10 miles west of the King Power Stadium when the deal fell through. A covenant had been placed on the site meaning that the Council would demand an ‘economic price’ if it was ever used as anything other than a golf course. The council demanded £12m for its release.

Bristol City faced similar challenges when a local parish council objected to their £92m plan to build a 30,000 seat stadium in Ashton Vale. The council launched a judicial review into the planning process and attempted to have the earmarked area registered as a Village Green. The matter took 8 years to resolve, but Bristol City eventually pulled out due to the ongoing legal costs, in favour of redeveloping their current ground, Ashton Gate.

Legal disputes over football grounds are not new. Some are even required reading for those who study Law. Morrells of Oxford Ltd v Oxford United Football Club [2001] Ch 459 is a case which is used to teach students the requirements to intentionally bind successors. In this case, Morrells Brewery attempted to enforce a covenant against the sale of alcohol. However, the covenant was held not to bind successors, allowing Oxford United to proceed with the construction of the Kassam Stadium. Had Oxford lost the case, the new stadium would have been financially unviable.

These legal issues are not limited to England, or football. Similar issues, in this case a ransom strip, affected Edinburgh Accies Rugby Club when they suffered a 12 month delay due to the ongoing legal proceeding. You can read more about this matter in an article written by my colleague Kirstin.

All of these matters were insurable and a legal indemnity policy from DUAL Asset Underwriting could have insulated the clubs from the financial losses they suffered. Covenants, rights of light, judicial review, village greens and ransom strips are all risks the DUAL underwriters deal with on a daily basis. Please contact us for a quotation before embarking on the expensive process developing a site subject to legal defects.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Adam Keith
+44 (0)207 337 8778

BLOG | Rights to Light Insurance

For many developers, there are a number of factors that need to be taken in to account when assessing their risk management strategy, such as whether their proposals will have an adverse effect on a neighbouring properties right to light and therefore obstructing their sunlight. This can lead to developments being halted and lead to large settlement sums being negotiated. The recent media surrounding Chelsea FC has highlighted the risk of rights of light, and in this instance where a neighbour was able to hold up Chelsea’s stadium redevelopment plans even with an offer of £1M having been made. If anything, a reminder that rights of light, if not managed, can prove an expensive hold-up if third parties try to obtain an injunction against a development.

The leading court case of HKRUK II (CHC) Ltd v Heaney [2010] illustrates an individual’s right to light, where the judge upheld Mr Heaney’s right of light by ordering an injunction against the developer’s building, requiring the upper floors to be removed, post completion. This was a case brought by the developer after failed negotiations, in which he sought to establish that Mr Heaney had forfeited his rights by failing to seek an injunction. The case was eventually resolved out of court, but stands as an important precedent and warning to developers; failing to resolve any possible infringements to a neighbour’s right of light can result in a halt to construction or lead to demolition of an already completed building and therefore developers should avoid any uncertainty by considering their options with rights of light insurance.

A developer will often prefer to cap off their exposure by indemnifying themselves against claims – allowing them to commence works on site whilst trying to reach a settlement in the background. Right of light insurance is not traditional in practice, policies can be tailored to allow developers to proactively manage the risk or to ‘wait and see’. Right of light insurance may be driven by a number of situations, such as a lender requirement, a step by the developer or needed by virtue of location (e.g. London). As one of the largest MGA title insurers, we are able to obtain unlimited capacity, meaning we do not need to combine capacity coverage and can accommodate any development of any size. Typically, our right of light policies will cover legal costs and expenses, costs of fitting out/altering, settlement, third party contractual costs, reduction in market value and abortive costs (as standard).

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Jess Ollerhead
+44(0)20 7456 8045

BLOG | Will Trusts - An Uncertain Future

It seemed a good idea at the time. When your will was drafted, you included a trust to safeguard part of the inheritance. Perhaps it was to protect a vulnerable child or help reduce your tax liability. For many of these smaller trust funds in existence in 2018, the reality is they are not performing and producing the income once envisaged. Ten years of record low interest rates, have resulted in often negative growth, especially if you have to take out professional fees. With the settlor long since passed away, it can become uneconomical for professional asset management companies and bank trust services to manage these smaller trusts. Under these circumstances, one of the options available to the trustees is to close the trust. The assets are then distributed to the current beneficiaries of that trust and the beneficiaries in turn agree to indemnify the trustees against any future claims.

Many trustees are reluctant though to rely on these indemnities as a complete protection from future claims, so the trustees often seek insurance as well. This insurance will “back up” these indemnities, in case they fail and insure the trustees. “We have seen an increase in such enquiries in the last year,” says Kate Thorp, Manager of DUAL Asset’s Executor & Inheritance account, “especially for smaller funds. Insurance will give the trustees peace of mind should the beneficiaries’ indemnity fail and protect the trustees from future claims from unknown beneficiaries coming forward and claiming part or all of the trust fund after they distribute the assets.

Trustees have had a difficult time managing these funds in the last ten years due to economic circumstances, which are outside their control, but there are options available to them,” says Kate. “Someone drafting their will 30, 40, 50 years ago, or even longer, would have had the best intentions at the time. No one can predict the future though and the uncertainty it can bring.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Kate Thorpe
Senior Underwriter
+44 (0)20 7337 8775


DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce our team is expanding again, with the addition of Adam Keith, who will be joining our Underwriting Team in the London offices.

Ian Keith, Managing Director for DUAL Asset Underwriting, commented: “It is great that Adam has joined the team, which will yet again improve the service we can offer our clients. Let’s just hope he performs to his ability, otherwise it could be an interesting atmosphere around the dining table at the Keith family Christmas!


Adam Keith – Underwriter, London

Adam Studied Law at Durham University, before moving to London where he worked as a legal indemnity underwriter for five years, specialising in complex risks, large portfolios and rights to light.

Since then, Adam has spent the last three years working as a legal indemnity broker, finding solutions for a wide range of international transactions, including some of the largest in Europe.

Adam says: “I am looking forward to bringing my M&A experience to DUAL. Over the last three years, I have been helping my clients complete deals across the world. I hope this will add a different perspective to DUAL’s already excellent offering. I am excited to be getting back to underwriting and gaining a greater understanding of the technical issues affecting global transactions.

Originally from Belfast, Adam is a keen rugby player and can still be found turning out for Old Streetonians on the occasional dry Saturday (Sounds like a perfect fit for DUAL!).


If you are involved in conveyancing transactions, either as an estate agent or as a conveyancer, hopefully you have been following the progress of the Dreamvar case?

Bizarrely, we still speak to lots of conveyancers who either haven’t, or don’t seem that interested and see it as an issue for their Professional Indemnity Insurance broker.

It’s time to focus on this Court of Appeal judgement and work out quickly how you are going to safeguard your firm before it happens to you. Contrary to most commentary that we have seen, there is an easy answer.

Dreamvar is a case where a small property company had been duped into buying a property from a fraudulent vendor. The fraudster stole the money from the true seller.

The court found the buyer’s solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, innocent of negligence, but they had a strict liability for both a breach of trust (for paying away the sale price to the fraudster in a transaction which was a nullity), and a breach of undertaking for not having the true owner's authority.

The Court of Appeal has upheld this decision and the case is reported in an article published in Todays Conveyancer on the 15th of May 2018.

The conclusion is that the seller’s conveyancer, who pays away the purchase monies for a transaction which is a nullity will be in breach of trust, even where the purchaser's solicitors are also liable.

The vendor's solicitor will also usually warrant it has authority to act on behalf of the actual seller and will incur liability for breach of such warranty, if it is relied upon.

The decision means, in effect, that solicitors and their professional indemnity insurers are likely to underwrite the legitimacy of the property transaction, on a strict liability basis.

What does this mean for you? Well, basically an impossible situation has just got a lot worse.

If you really still think that you can always spot and avoid a fraud, I am afraid that you are delusional. The sophisticated fraud cases that we (and your PI brokers) see, would leave you in no doubt that if your firm and your client is going to be picked on, by someone who knows what they are doing, then probably the outcome is not going to be good.

And it is clear now, that regardless of whether you have taken all reasonable precautions and are not negligent, that the courts are not necessarily going to save you.

Several articles that we have read conclude that the insurance brokers need to be creative and find new insurance solutions. But this misses the fact that there has been insurance available for this risk for the last 10 years.

You should speak to your preferred professional indemnity insurance broker, who may be able to help you. DUAL has fraud policies either for individual transactions (expensive of course) and now a new block policy solution if you (and your PI broker and insurer) wants to sleep more soundly at night. The block policy is available for less than 50 pounds per transaction.

In each case, we will waive our rights against you and your PI insurer, as long as you are using modern anti-fraud techniques, that we can tell you about subject to terms and conditions.


Robert C. Barnes, Senior Counsel at leading law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, publishes an article in the Daily Journal in the US on how insurers are finally looking at offering specific risk title insurance policies, instead of solely offering unknown risk policies that has been the custom for over 150 years. Click here to read the full article.


If you have ever wondered how complicated and involved estate administration can be, the past month has seen another example of the legal concept of “proprietary estoppel” and how it can be used to extract money - in this example, from a deceased person’s estate.

This occurs when an individual claims that a promise once made has not been honoured. The principle is outlined on the website In Brief.

Inheriting the family farm

In an account of a recent court case and its judgment, the legal newsfeed Lexology on the 6th of March 2018 described how one sister claimed (against another sister and her husband) that she had been denied an inheritance in the family farm that had been promised to her by their parents.

The promise on which the claimant sister relied was not subsequently reflected in any formal way in the parents’ will, and the executors did not pass the farm on to her.

In her claim on the grounds of proprietary estoppel, the sister had to show the court that:

  • her deceased parents had given her an assurance that she would inherit the farm i.e. they had “promised” her;
  • the promise gave her grounds to rely on the fact that she would inherit the farm; and
  • that her reliance on that promise had been to her detriment – she argued that she had devoted the whole of her working life to the farm.

If these three elements have been satisfied, the law holds that it would be “unconscionable” for a claimant not to rely on the promise, or promises, that had been given.

In its judgment, the court ruled that the claimant sister had made her case that she relied upon a promise which had been given by her parents (even though the promise was not expressed in their will) and that she would suffer loss and detriment if the promise were not fulfilled.

However, the court also took into account the extent to which the sister had suffered any detriment and, in the event, awarded her just 45% of the farm.

The lesson

The lesson to be drawn from this case – and others like it, such as the dispute over the inheritance of a family hotel, described in the Law Society Gazette on the 9th of February 2015 – underscores the sometimes onerous duties and responsibilites taken on by executors and administrators.

It is one of the many reasons why executor and inheritance insurance from DUAL may help to protect the executors and administrators – and the estate itself - against such costly claims which might follow.

For further details, please contact our Executor & Inheritance Protection Manager Kate Thorp at kthorp@dualgroup.com.


Over 200 guests from the property, legal and insurance world attended the inaugural Question of Sport and Entertainment Charity Dinner at The Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel in London on 2nd May.

Hosted and sponsored by DUAL Asset Underwriting, the evening was held in support of the Manchester based charity Destination Florida who, every two years, take 75 very poorly children from disadvantaged backgrounds on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida.

In charge of proceedings was Manchester Key 103s Darren Proctor. Guests participated in a highly interactive quiz which was ultimately won by a team from DUAL Asset Underwriting, and were treated to some fabulous entertainment, highlighted by the laugh-a-minute Bobby Davro. Also appearing was singing sensation Marc Bolton and the evening concluded with The Absolute Divas with their medley of songs whilst guests danced the night away!

Thanks to an amazing selection of auction items, raffle prizes, pledges and the generosity of the bidders, the fantastic sum of £44,000 was raised, which will make a significant contribution towards the cost of the next trip to Orlando in November 2018.

Mike Hymanson, Chair of Trustees at Destination Florida commented - “we are so proud that DUAL Asset Underwriting chose Destination Florida to be its beneficiary for its inaugural charity event at the beautiful London Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel. The Question of Sport & Entertainment night is a fabulous highly-charged evening and an amazing sum of well over £40,000 was raised for this very special children’s charity. It will pay for several poorly children to enjoy an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was an incredible experience working with the team at DUAL Asset Underwriting and everyone enjoyed fabulous and successful evening”

Trevor Barnett, Business Development Executive at DUAL Asset Underwriting, himself a volunteer helper on the trip to Orlando 16 years ago said “having worked closely with Destination Florida planning the event for the past 7 months, I am overwhelmed by support of our clients and their guests in helping to raise such a huge sum for the charity. I would like to thank all those who bought tables & tickets, donated auction and raffle prizes, our entertainers, hostesses and all who helped in making the evening such a success. We very much hope to be able to host a similar event in 2019.”


The perils of building, developing or making alterations to your home without the necessary planning permission have been thrown into the spotlight once again in a case reported by the BBC on the 10th of May 2018.

At the centre of the current storm is a new home in Stoke-on-Trent which is considered by the local planning authority to have exceeded the maximum height by some 30in.

Two retrospective planning applications had been made with respect to the £500,000 dwelling. Both were rejected, and the planning authority has recommended enforcement action, which might result in the compulsory demolition of the offending property.

Legal indemnities – planning defects

The decision by the local authority in this case obviously comes as bad news for the current owners of the property.

Whilst the failure of the current owners to obtain the relevant planning permission and abide by its conditions is one thing, similar failures on the part of any vendor may have serious consequences for any buyer. If you buy a recently built or altered property, you may still be held responsible for any failure on the part of the vendor to have obtained the necessary planning permission.

As the purchaser, therefore, you stand to incur very substantial financial losses if the local authority orders the property’s demolition and may face, at the very least, the cost of making applications for retrospective permission, along with the expense of making any alterations or reinstatement to comply with its conditions.

Legal indemnities insurance offers a ready and accessible means of protecting yourself against such planning defects. Payment of a single premium typically provides ongoing indemnity that runs with the property from one owner to the next.


DUAL Asset have recently settled a covenant claim where the motives of the claimant were slightly unusual.

The policy was taken out to protect against a covenant stating that only one property was allowed on the site. The insured wanted to build a second property to the rear of their current one. At the time of planning no objections were received, but once the plot went on the market, the covenant holder objected. We received Counsel’s opinion which said that the covenant was enforceable. It then transpired that the covenant holder wanted to purchase the plot to build a property for themselves and downsize from their current property. However, they obviously discounted their offer for the plot.

DUAL Asset could have gone to the Upper Tribunal to seek modification of the covenant and may have won, but this would have been an expensive and drawn out process for the insured. Instead, we agreed that the insured should sell the plot to the claimant and we would compensate the difference in market value from other bids and the claimant’s bid. So would the claimant have tried to enforce the covenant had they not wanted to buy the plot? Or was it just a sneaky way to use the covenant to get the plot at a reduced value? Nonetheless, DUAL Asset were able to reach a commercial view quickly, which enabled the insured to move on quickly and stress free.

NEWS | DUAL launches Aircraft Title Insurance

DUAL Asset Underwriting, the international asset insurance business, has announced the launch of Aircraft Title Insurance, the latest asset class to join the company’s range of legal ownership insurance services.

DUAL has partnered with AIC Title Service, leaders in the US aviation Title Insurance market, to launch Aircraft Title Insurance in Europe.

The policy insures buyers and/or the financiers of Aircraft for a wide range of legal ownership risks, including:

  • fraud & forgery
  • unknown debts secured against either the aircraft or its engines or propellers
  • third parties claiming to have a better ownership right
  • outstanding rates, taxes, charges and other levies, which often affect aircraft

DUAL can insure either aeroplanes or helicopters and/or in each case their engines and rotor blades with these products.

We can add specific risk insurance to these policies, if a technical glitch in ownership documentation is discovered during the acquisition process.

For more information, please visit our website or contact us for policy forms & a pricing guide

We can insure aeroplanes and helicopters, wherever in Europe they are being traded.

Phil Oldcorn, Chief Underwriting Officer of DUAL Asset commented:

We are delighted to be able to add insurance of Aircraft to our existing range of products for Real Estate, Mortgages, Share Ownership & Probate assets. We have forged an excellent relationship with AIC who have thrown their huge weight of experience behind this initiative. Our expertise in legal ownership insurance, combined with our underwriting skills and excellent broker relations make for an exciting future. As with our other asset insurance products, Aircraft Title Insurance will make it much easier and safer for anyone investing in aircraft as a business or for a hobby to make sure everything is safely in place before take-off!"

BLOG | Probate - When the missing should stay missing

Missing beneficiary insurance is usually obtained following a failed attempt to find a missing person who is due an inheritance. The personal representative, in an attempt to find them, will often instruct a genealogist or tracing agent to write to last known addresses and interview family and friends of the missing person. There are occasions, however, when the decision is made not to try and find the missing person. “In my 20 years’ experience,” says Kate Thorp, DUAL’s Inheritance Protection Manager, “this is a straight decline by most insurance companies. Insurers do not want their insurance policies to be an alternative to research and to worry about reporting claims.

The decision not to find a beneficiary could be seen as being at odds with the personal representative’s responsibility to carry out the administration of the estate. The representative needs to act in the best interests of the estate, including the beneficiaries, and not in their own interest. Yet what if there is a moral reason for not trying to find the missing person and then “backing” this decision up with insurance?

Insurance certainly has a place here,” says Kate Thorp. “There has to be a basis of a defence to any subsequent claim by the missing beneficiary though.” An example being an extremely tragic case where a solicitor was acting for the mother of a deceased soldier, shot and killed in one of the recent conflicts the UK has been involved in. A seemingly hastily-made will turned out to be invalid, even though the intention of the will was clear. The young soldier wanted to leave his whole estate to his mother. The estate, now falling into intestacy, was to be split between the soldier’s mother and father. The problem was, the father had walked out of the family home a few days after his son’s birth and was never heard of again. He had never paid a penny in maintenance.

From a research point of view, it was almost certain the father could be traced if attempts were made to find him. He had an unusual name and his date of birth was known, as well as his former occupation. The decision was made by the personal representative not to try and find him and the solicitor made enquiries as to whether insurance would be possible in these circumstances. “We agreed to insure it” says Kate, “the reason being we believed there was a chance of a counterclaim for unpaid maintenance which would surpass the amount he would be entitled to under the intestacy.” The insurance policy enabled the mother to receive the inheritance her son always wished her to have and took the worry away from her about the cost of any future legal action by the father if he ever made an appearance and tried to claim his inheritance.

Missing beneficiary insurance can come in various forms and DUAL will always think “outside the box” when asked, especially in circumstances such as these.

NEWS | Fracking & Ancient Mineral Rights

Is the Church of England seeking to cash in on fracking?

According to reports in the Times newspaper on the 9th of January 2018, the Church has registered its ancient mineral rights with the Land Registry, and a number of landowners have been informed about the move.


The Church may be reviving its interest in such mineral rights because of the recent upsurge in fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) operations across various parts of the company to release valuable deposits of shale gas.

The Telegraph reported that registrations of former Church land which may hold such deposits covers an area the size of Sussex, or nearly 580,000 acres. A total of more than 5,700 separate locations have been the subject of such Land Registry entries by the Church of England since January of 2010.

Ownership of the shale gas itself belongs to the Crown, but the Church stands to profit from selling rights of access to such reserves, which may be extracted by drilling horizontally through the land to conduct the process of fracking.

The Church has said that fracking operations to extract shale gas “could be morally acceptable”, showing that the Church can be just as commercially-minded as it was in the days before Reformation.

Chancel repairs

The assertion of long-held mineral rights is not the only area in which the Church of England may be looking to swell the coffers of its estimated £8 billion of assets.

Under equally ancient legislation, it also continues to lay claim to the right to raise a tax on property that has been built on land formerly belonging to the parish council in order to maintain the parish church. These are so-called ‘chancel repairs’ – in a reference to the main part of the church surrounding the altar

Indeed, there is sufficient risk of facing a bill for several thousands of pounds as your contribution to the upkeep of the church. Anyone buying a property – which need not be anywhere close to the parish church itself – will be interested to note that specialist insurance products have been developed by DUAL Asset Underwriting to provide indemnity against such demands for chancel repairs.

The products are aptly called Chancel Repair and Mineral Reservations indemnity insurance.

BLOG | Claims Corner - Wind Farm access

A difficult wind farm access issue was a breeze for DUAL Asset to solve!

We recently settled a claim relating to unauthorised access to a wind farm in Ireland. The Insured took out a policy with DUAL Asset in June 2016 to cover the lack of a legal easement over the access way, which led to their turbine site.

In January 2018, the owner of the access way contacted the Insured, claiming that they did not have a right of way over the access. Despite supporting evidence regarding the use of the access in the form of Statutory Declarations from the Insured’s predecessors, it was clear that the claimant was prepared to press on with their claim. This would likely lead to protracted and costly litigation, and little in the way of certainty for the Insured and the operation of their business at the Property.

The insured accepted that there had been some intensification of the access, which was not covered under the policy. With DUAL’s agreement, the Insured’s lawyers engaged with the claimant and the parties reached an agreement for an easement over the access.

The consideration payable for the easement was £30k including legal fees and DUAL agreed to contribute £20k towards this figure, the proportionate payment reflecting the fact there was an element of the claim which did not fall for cover due to the intensification of the use of the access.

The insured was delighted that DUAL took a quick and commercial view, resulting in the claim being resolved within 3 months of the notification and with no interruption to the operation of the wind farm.

BLOG | Claims Corner - Possessory Title

A new month brings another satisfied insured!

We recently concluded yet another unusual claim involving possessory title to a piece of land adjoining the insured’s property, which they and their predecessors had used as amenity land for many years.

The insured received quite an aggressive letter of claim from the ‘true’ owner of the land, challenging their use, occupation and claim to ownership and demanding that the matter be rectified at Land Registry. During the claims handling process it was evident that the claimant was not prepared to accept the position on the ground and intended to proceed to litigation on the question of ownership. This would of course be fraught with risk and excessive costs, with no guarantee of a successful outcome for the insured, not to mention a huge amount of stress which no policy could compensate for.

After a year of negotiations we managed to reach a commercial agreement with the claimant whereby a payment of £30,000 was made in return for the claimant transferring their interest in the land to the insured, and thus the title issue was eradicated. The risk of future litigation has now disappeared and the matter has been resolved with minimum stress.

The insured’s solicitors, whom DUAL Asset employed throughout the process, said:

It was a pleasure working with DUAL throughout a complicated matter, they were often able to provide immediate responses, which meant that the matter could be progressed as quickly as possible through to completion; they were at all times friendly, approachable and commercially minded.

NEWS | Legal Indemnity adds Quick Quote

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce they have added a “Quick Quote” section to their online platform My Legal Indemnity Shop. This extension of their service gives users a choice of legal indemnity policy quotes in less than 60 seconds for residential properties in England and Wales.

Home buyers, conveyancers and brokers can log into DUAL’s innovative and user-friendly portal and receive three competitive quotes from leading insurers in just a few clicks of the mouse.

It drafts and issues policies for over 40 different residential title defects with covers of up to £5m, offering a choice of cover options and costs. These quotes are sent directly from the ‘Quick Quote’ portal to the user and their conveyancer for consideration.

Up to four risks can be combined under one quote, typically providing attractive cost-savings on the cover.

Mark Dennis, Head of Residential Risks at DUAL Asset, explains that Quick Quote is "our response to growing consumer interest in My Legal Indemnity Shop. Most of us ‘shop around’ when looking for insurance, and that’s what consumers are increasingly doing when being told that indemnity insurance will be required to complete their house sale or purchase. However, their legal adviser is only offering a single insurance quote from a preferred supplier. Quick Quote allows consumers to obtain a choice of quotes from different insurers to pass on to their legal adviser should the choice of quotes offered prove better value."

For further information or to see a short video of how the service works, please visit my-legal-indemnity-shop.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

NEWS | Breach of planning - secret building cases

Recent stories have come to light where secret building works had been found by local planning officers, meaning homeowners should be aware that planning departments will look for potential breaches.

Homeowners looking to extend their property should also make sure they have the correct permissions in place before building begins.

One recent case relates to a planning breach in Leicestershire for building a “secret house” in a garage, where a couple - Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri - were ordered to pay more than £2,000 each for deliberately trying to hide the "habitable accommodation."

The BBC reported that Ms. Herzallah said the couple were "hard working" and "law abiding" and that they’d been advised by a builder that the conversion, in Old Church Road, was permitted.

With cases like these becoming more common, homeowners should be aware that there are building regulations products that potentially cover local authority enforcement action for breaches.

Building regulations insurance will typically be used by new purchasers where additions to the property are apparent, but in this case there is no evidence that building regulations consent has been obtained.

Wesley Timothy, LLB (Hons), Senior Underwriter at DUAL Asset Underwriting, a legal indemnity and title insurance specialist, says: “From an insurance point of view, whilst there are insurance products available that cover building regulation breaches, this particular case is a bit of a tricky one. We could potentially have covered an innocent purchaser and/or their lender for their respective losses down the line, but not Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri.

He continues: “It should also be clear that the onus for arranging planning permission should be with the homeowner, or by a reputable builder, who will clearly evidence the agreed planning permission before any work starts. Whilst this may seem like a headache and delay getting started, as we can see from the case above, having the correct planning can save you a lot of potential issues down the track.

BLOG | Probate Insurance - you only live twice?

As an underwriter, I first saw a presumption of death risk 20 years ago. A young professional person had gone missing at sea. A distress call had been made from their boat, but the coastguard was originally sent to search the wrong area. By the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late. There was no trace of the person, or the boat.

What often follows for the missing person’s family, is a roller-coaster ride from hell. Not only have they been denied a proper burial and the chance to say goodbye, but they face a struggle to obtain a death certificate and wind up the estate. Unfortunately, whilst your world may be crumbling, the mortgage still needs to be paid and the children fed and clothed. Also, there must always be the nagging doubt for the family left behind, what if they are not dead? What if they survived?

In the case of the young person missing at sea, the life insurance company would not pay out to the family. They wanted insurance to protect them, in case the person was not deceased and the presumption of death order obtained at court, was challenged.

Most of these tragic cases do not make the news. Some do though. John Darwin, now more commonly known as “canoe man,” went missing in 2002. He was lost when paddling out to sea in Hartlepool. No body was found. Four years later he was found to be alive and well, living in Panama. In 2007, he and his wife faced charges back in the UK for fraudulently claiming life insurance and defrauding the DWP, teachers’ pension scheme and their mortgage company. It is unlikely these companies and the DWP were able to recover their payments from the Darwin’s and their costs.

In Scotland, insurance is nearly always required by the courts, under the Presumption of Death (Scotland) Act 1977 Section 6, against the risk of a person having an interest in the deceased’s estate and seeking to have the decree varied or recalled. This means an innocent person’s interest is protected.

How does an underwriter go about underwriting such a risk and how can you tell a “canoe man” from a genuine, tragic, death? “It can be difficult,” says Kate Thorp. “Would I have issued a policy for the canoe man’s life insurer if asked, the answer is probably yes. What we do is look into the deceased’s life. Did they have any reason to fake their death? For example, were they in financial difficulties? We look at the circumstances of their death and how they went missing and often police reports are helpful in this regard and also press reports if they exist. We also look at their family situation.”

“I have also seen cases where a presumption of death order has been obtained for a missing beneficiary of an estate, to allow their inheritance to be paid to another family member, even when there is limited, or no information, to show they have died. The person had just disappeared, perhaps of their own choice.”

Presumption of Death insurance from DUAL can protect various interests, from the executors and administrators of the missing person’s estate, to the beneficiaries, trustees of pension schemes, purchasers of the missing person’s property and life insurance companies.

Kate Thorp - Executor & Inheritance Protection Manager at DUAL Asset Underwriting

BLOG | Insight into Restrictive Convenants - all change!

Modifying restrictive covenants leads to unlocking value.

One of the skills which any investor in real property must have is the ability to see the potential in land. Such potential may be present in a number of ways, but this article focusses on the potential to change the use of land despite the presence of restrictive covenants which would otherwise inhibit change.

The law of restrictive covenants is a complex one, inhabiting an uncomfortable berth between land and contract law, rules of Equity and legislation which is nearly 100 years old. This article cannot explain that law. It will be assumed that the hypothetical investor will have been advised that there are binding covenants on the land which are enforceable by neighbouring land owners. But the covenants prevent the proposed development, which has planning consent. If it can be carried out, the net development value will be in millions of pounds. How can that value be unlocked?

The answer is the use of the jurisdiction in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (“UTLC”) under s. 84(1) Law of Property Act 1925 (“s. 84”) to discharge, or modify restrictive covenants. There are a number of grounds in s. 84(1) under which this can be done. The one with the greatest chance of success is to show that the covenants impeding the development do not secure a practical benefit of substantial value, or advantage to those who can enforce the covenants. There are many cases about what this means. Invariably each application will turn on its facts on whether this test is satisfied. Applications under s. 84 can be hard to win, but it should be obvious that the reward for success, even after costs have been factored in, can be huge. What makes the applications more attractive now is that the UTLC is conducting final hearings of disputed applications under s. 84 generally within 4 months from the stage when the parties have completed the formal written stages of the application.

The importance of the jurisdiction under s. 84 cannot be over-estimated. The Government’s housing policy seeks to release more land for much needed housing, and there is a new Garden City movement supported by the Government. In addition, as it is economic to develop to a greater intensity, a policy generally favoured under planning law, land values warrant steps to remove covenant problems. Finally, there has been a growth in the “re-use” of sites where obsolescent houses are suitable for demolition with either replacement houses, or a greater number of houses, or flats being built.

The recent decision of the UTLC in Re Theodossiades’ Application [2017] UKUT 0461 (LC) is an example of a successful application to modify covenants which would have prevented a large late Victorian house, Gaisgill on Barnet Lane, Elstree, Herts, from being demolished and replaced by a single new building, with the appearance of a “mansion” house, containing 6 flats. Gaisgill, the objectors land, and other land to the east along Barnet lane, had been sold off in plots between 1886 and 1910 by a common vendor with covenants restricting development on each plot. The objectors (who could enforce the covenants on Gaisgill imposed in 1896 and 1900) were concerned not only with the modest detrimental impact of the development on their houses and gardens to the east of Gaisgill, but also with the effect which any modification would have as a precedent in leading to similar development on sites to the east of their properties. The latter objection was the main ground of objection pursued at the hearing. The Tribunal rejected that ground, finding principally that on the facts, there had been a large number of breaches of the covenants imposed on the land sold off by the common vendor, and technical reasons, based on covenant law, as to why enforcement would be difficult against other plot owners seeking to redevelop in future.

For the investor in land, the lesson to be taken away from Re Theodossiades’ is that it is not impossible to unlock value, despite the presence of covenants which might seem to make investment in land burdened by them a poor prospect. If planning consent for the development can be obtained (generally a prerequisite for a s. 84 application) and if the evidence supports one of the grounds, a skilled team of legal advisers and an expert surveyor should be able to achieve the discharge, or modification required. The task is not an easy one, but the economic benefits of the change can be huge.


© Andrew Francis

BLOG | Claims Corner - Scottish Title claim

DUAL Asset Underwriting prides itself on its practical and commercial approach to claims’ management. Over the last year, we have seen claims across a wide spectrum of our risks and have attempted to deal with these in an understanding and speedy manner, taking the best interests of the insured into account.

We have recently settled a lack of title claim in Scotland. The insured was acquiring a parcel of land that was unregistered. The land was in an area where there were multiple ancient landed estates and the maps of the area were not clear. The area of land that was acquired appeared to have established boundaries and the estate that sold it was adamant it was theirs, but took out the lack of title policy for extra security given the number of split offs from their title.

The application went off to Registers of Scotland, who accepted the first registration. Some months later, the insured was contacted by lawyers for one of the other surrounding estates claiming that the piece of land was in fact theirs and that they would be applying to Registers of Scotland for a rectification of title.

The documentation that they produced was very thorough and having discussed with our legal advisers, they stood a very good chance of succeeding in their claim.

The insured, who had incorporated the land into their garden, didn’t want to lose the piece of land and wanted to open discussions to purchase it. The limit of our policy was £5,000 (the purchase price when it was bought) and so, after some consideration, we decided to take a practical approach to the claim and offer a full and final settlement to the insured for £5,000. This left them in a position where they could negotiate with the estate and we could close our file.

No claim is ever the same, but the best outcome for all sides are the ones that settle quickly.

BLOG | Property Law & Land Registration - your land or your money

Property Law and Land Registration, in principle, is designed to make the selling and buying of land, as easy as possible. It undoubtedly does this, for the most part. Unfortunately, the reality of conveyancing is that there are many pitfalls and defects that can make what appears to be an easy deal, an uphill struggle.

Whether it’s a multimillion pound development or someone buying their first ever flat, title defects have given many a lawyer sleepless nights. There are numerous defects which could affect the deal, with one of the most common and problematic being the ransom strip.

Ransom strips are small, but vital areas or strips of land, which sit out-with a title, but are integral for the enjoyment of the property. Most commonly, these relate to access to the property, either from a public road or between another property, and can sometimes be as narrow and seemingly ‘insignificant’ as six inches.

Small though the strip may be; these areas are far from insignificant. If the land is owned by a third party and your client does not have documented rights to use the route, they are essentially at risk of trespassing if they enter or cross it.

The problem conveyancer’s face is they are often unnoticed, and can be particularly difficult to spot with rural property and estates due to old titles and maps. Whatever the reason, they are problematic, and if not dealt with appropriately, your client is at risk of a long and expensive legal battle.

In recent years, there have been some highly publicised cases where ransom strips have caused not only costly financial issues, but serious delays to build projects. The development at Edinburgh Accies in Stockbridge being the most topical, where a 2ft wide strip was owned by adjoining land owners, who voted to assert their legal right to the land and a reported £1m ‘ransom’ as a result.

With planning already secured for the rugby pitch and 2,500 seat stand, alongside bars, shops and other facilities, the legal row rumbled on for a more than a year before it was dismissed at The Court of Session last year. More than 12 months delay to the development.

Other most notable ransom strip disputes include:

  • Mapping errors in earlier conveyances
  • The extent of a road, which has been publicly adopted, not quite meeting the land that your client has title to
  • With financial gain in mind

Land purchasers need to be alert to the existence of ransom strips, and it’s down to your legal representative to carry out thorough due diligence ahead of any procurement. If any issues are identified as part of this, there are options that can help resolve them:

  • Find out who the owner is and approach them to try and correct the issue. At Millar & Bryce (Scotland’s premier search provider) they work with clients to identify ownership in the land register; even when the land hasn’t yet made it onto the land register we can usually identify ownership. Prior to land registration, land ownership was recorded in the historic sasine register, and searching this can be complex and requires a high degree of skills and experience. Millar & Bryce have vast experience of searching the sasine register and on a day to day basis deal with complex enquiries on land ownership.
  • Obtain title insurance. That way, should a claim ever happen, the insurers take care of it for the land-owner and either correct the position or provide them with cover for any actual loss suffered due to the ransom strip. They will also usually cover potential legal costs. DUAL Asset Underwriting have some of the most experienced legal underwriters in the market who can assist with this.

The overarching message to take from this is that these things happen, but there are options that will hopefully prevent any risk to the property, and indeed the bank balance.

NEWS | Protecting Development Land - public access implications

Once a public right of way or informal access to land has been established and can be proven, argues Birketts the solicitors, it becomes practically impossible to remove.

As far as any future development is concerned, there is a planning blight on the land – as the solicitors say, it can be fatal for the prospects of its use in the future.

The need to protect development land

Unless the owners of land take active steps to prevent it happening, new public access rights may be established, and the land may be opened up by informal public use.

This might be by way of a direct footpath or bridleway across the land or the informal recreational use of a whole area – for use as a village green or even a new town, for example.

In that event, the solution to any planning blight is a long drawn out and expensive attempt to change the recognised rights of way and public access, in the face of probable opposition to any development scheme based on the rights and uses which have been established in the past. At its simplest, public rights of way get established as the result of long-term public access and use.


Clearly, the more you know about past land use, the stronger your position for defending it and for preserving its potential for development in the future.

Local authority searches have become ever more fruitful and revealing on information about recorded public right of way, proposed changes to any of those routes and claims for the inclusion of previously unrecorded routes across the privately owned land.

Developers need to use this information – together with inspections of the site itself, of course – to assess whether informal public use, in the past or present, increases the likelihood of new claims for recognised public rights of way to be made.

Local authority searches may also reveal whether advantage has already been taken of the existing statutory measures which may have been put in place against fresh claims to public rights of way or informal uses which have turned areas of the land into a village green or new settlement.

Statutory defences

The principle involved in protecting privately-owned land against new public rights of way or informal lies in the landowner demonstrating an explicit “lack of intention to dedicate” those rights – in other words, an explicit statement denying the creation of any such new rights.

Provision for formal statements such as this is made in both section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and in section 15A of the Commons Act 2006.

In the case of the former, the landowner submits a statement and land use plan to the highways department of the local authority. The statement provides protection against any attempt to assert any new claim of public use or right of way for the next 20 years.

Section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 makes similar provision in respect of any new informal or recreational use of the land in question. Once again, the landowner’s statement gives protection against such claims for the next 20 years.

Neither the Highways Act 1980 or the Commons Act 2006 offer any retrospective protection – the defence comes into effect only once the prescribed statements by the landowner have been submitted. If you are buying land which has not yet been protected against future claims to public access or informal use, therefore, you may want to act quickly to put these defences in place.

BLOG | Probate Insurance - Dirty rotten scoundrels

We all remember the 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Michael Caine, or if you are a film buff (or of a certain age), the original 1964 version called Bedtime Story starring the debonair David Niven. Both films were comedies and told the story of con men using false identities to swindle unsuspecting victims out of money. The films are fiction of course, but 30 years on, has identity fraud become more prevalent? Recent newspaper headlines, stated in the first half of 2017 there were 89,000 reported cases of identity fraud. Should we fear identity fraud when administering an estate and can anything be done to completely protect administrators and executors, if the worst case happened?

Kate Thorp, DUAL’s Inheritance Protection Manager, sees cases on a weekly basis where family trees contain beneficiaries from all over the world. This week alone, we have seen families residing in the Ukraine, Nigeria, Indonesia and Poland. Sometimes these estates can present challenges for genealogists, who often have to use incomplete records, sometimes as a result of war or conflict. Genealogists can also find themselves researching in a country that has strict privacy laws, making searching official records difficult and sometimes impossible. Quite often, family information alone has to be relied upon to trace family members, which can be imperfect.

If the personal representative makes a mistake and distributes to the wrong beneficiaries, or miss out a beneficiary altogether, it would be very difficult to retrieve the erroneous payment, especially from countries outside the UK and Europe. It will often not be cost-effective to even try. This is where both missing beneficiary insurance and identity fraud cover can assist by protecting the personal representative and the beneficiaries. DUAL’s comprehensive UK insurance policy provides cover for both missing beneficiaries worldwide and also cover for identity fraud committed by UK nationals.

Where there is a UK estate or UK held assets and there are beneficiaries outside the UK, DUAL can also consider bespoke identity fraud cover and have in the last few months provided policies where beneficiaries were resident in Africa and the Middle East. “All cases were similar”, says Kate Thorp. “The solicitor, despite their best efforts, could not categorically say the person claiming to be the entitled beneficiary was actually the right person. The solicitor in each case was not comfortable to make a distribution on this basis. In one case, identity documents had been received, but dates of birth differed on a driving licence and a passport. Different variations of names were shown on the documents and the beneficiary was using an intermediary to communicate with the solicitor. There was an added concern that matters could be lost in translation. DUAL were able to assist in all cases and provide identity fraud cover, just in case the worst case did happen.

How does an underwriter go about underwriting such a risk? ”Well, it’s important to go back to how the beneficiary was traced,” says Kate Thorp. “Did they come forward of their own accord and what knowledge did they have of the Deceased? Have they been able to confirm certain facts? Then there is also the correspondence. It is useful for the underwriters to view this. We also talk to the solicitor. What is their view of the situation?

Maybe we should not think of everyone as a “dirty rotten scoundrel,” but personal representatives should always be on their guard. If they have any concerns about the beneficiaries they are about to send money to, then DUAL are happy to talk to them about ways of safeguarding themselves and the estate.

NEWS | The Scottish Legal Awards

DUAL Asset Underwriting were delighted to be Finalists in the Innovation in Practice category at this year’s Scottish Legal Awards in recognition of our online platform My Defective Title Shop.com

The service provides Scottish conveyancers with a quick and easy way to source and select from a choice of defective title policies for residential property transactions in Scotland.

Our innovative and user-friendly portal offers three quotes for residential property, enabling conveyancers a choice of cover options and cost. It drafts and issues policies for over 40 different residential title defects, covering up to £5m at a few clicks of the mouse

Kirstin Nee, Senior Underwriter at DUAL Asset Underwriting: “We are thrilled that our online platform has been recognised for its innovation. Our aim with the platform was to make the lives of Scottish conveyancers that little bit easier with a choice of policies covering a wide range of risks.

You can read more about My Defective Title Shop here: my-defective-title-shop.com

You can read more about the Scottish Legal Awards 2018 here: kdmedia.co.uk/legalawards/2018-finalists/

NEWS | Three new starters at DUAL Asset

DUAL Asset Underwriting are pleased to announce they are expanding their Underwriting teams in London and Norwich, with three new hires.

Terri Hatton and Naomi Kent have joined the Norwich office and Jessica Ollerhead is joining the London office.

Ian Keith, Managing Director for DUAL Asset Underwriting, commented: “As our business continues to grow, we need to keep expanding the team to deliver on our service proposition. It is great to add three very talented and experienced underwriters, who will be a brilliant fit with our company philosophy.


Terri Hatton - Underwriter, Norwich office

Terri spent the last two years being a personal assistant to a director of a financial services company and prior to this, spent 5 years working for another legal indemnity company as an underwriter.

Terri says: “In my previous role as an underwriter, I was originally in the administration team and received a promotion after 9 months at the company. Underwriting was completely new to me and I instantly found it engaging! I spent most of my time in the 'Fast Track' team, which was designed to supply quick quotations for basic residential risks."

The way this particular company worked, I was limited to the basics and was not allowed to explore beyond a specific set of risks. When I join DUAL, I will be aiming to start working on these same risks to begin with, so that I can 'get back in the game'. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and hopefully learn more complex risks.

Terri is originally from London, but relocated to Norfolk 7 years ago with her husband and now they have a little girl (4) called Chloe. She adds: “I enjoy fundraising and try to commit myself to doing at least one challenge a year for a charity. Previous fundraisers include volunteering in Africa for a month when I was 19 and more recently I have run the Norwich 10k, abseiled the Archelormittal Orbit and volunteered on the SOS bus for just over a year. This year I have signed up for the SHINE walk for Cancer Research UK."

I also like to tell everyone (repeatedly) that my claim to fame was being taught how to dance by Len Goodman!

Naomi Kent - Underwriter, Norwich office

Naomi has 13 years’ experience in the legal indemnities market and has underwritten a broad range of both residential and commercial risks, as well as missing beneficiary, rights to light, and other bespoke risks.

Naomi also has extensive claims handling experience, having been involved in a number of cases, which have gone to mediation, trial and the Financial Ombudsman.

In her spare time, Naomi likes to ride horses.

Jessica Ollerhead - Underwriter, London office

Jessica studied Law at the University of Cumbria, before moving to London where she studied the Legal Practice Course at the University of Westminster. She then joined a legal indemnity solutions company. She says: “In my previous role, I would mainly look at more complex/dispute style Rights of Light and Legal Contingency cases. I enjoy all areas, but in particular was focusing on more dispute/agreed conduct cases, which to the best of my knowledge hasn’t yet been used too much at DUAL. I am looking forward to collaborating the two styles together.

Jessica is originally from Merseyside and says: “I have got the Northern love in me.

She has been playing hockey (goalkeeper position) for around 15 years, competing in the European Championships in Prague in 2007.

Jessica adds: “I enjoy going out, traveling and meeting new people and am starting a short language course at City University London in May to learn Arabic”.

BLOG | Claims Corner - covenant claim

DUAL Asset Underwriting prides itself on its practical and commercial approach to claims’ management. Over the last year, we have seen claims across a wide spectrum of our risks and have attempted to deal with these in an understanding and speedy manner, taking the best interests of the insured into account.

We have recently settled a covenant claim in south London, where a developer was building a block of apartments on a site where there was previously a single dwelling. The site was burdened by a 1985 covenant, restricting the use of the land to the single private dwelling, which was in favour of the Council.

Shortly after works commenced, the council approached the developer claiming they had the benefit of the covenant. Counsel’s advice was that whilst the Council were unlikely to obtain an injunction to stop the work, as they had not objected during the planning stage, nor when the developer moved on site, they were likely to be awarded compensation at the Upper Tribunal. This could involve a combined legal expense and compensation bill well into six figures.

Working with the insured’s lawyers, we first refuted the validity of the covenant and then quickly agreed a cash settlement with the Council to remove the restriction. The combined payment of legal fees (£15k) and compensation (£40k) was considerable lower than the cost of going to Tribunal and in addition much quicker. This resulted in the insured being able to continue with their development and the swift settlement enabled the claim to be met with minimum legal fees.

NEWS | German voidable lease - new court ruling

The German Federal Court of Justice (“Der Bundesgerichtshof or BGH") has recently published an important decision on 27th September 2017.

In essence, this now increases the possibility of landlords or tenants being able to terminate a written-form lease early, due to a ruling against what are termed “defect-curing clauses” – finding them to be null and void.

The background

In Germany, by law, leases that have a term in excess of 12 months must be fully compliant with what is called the “written form” of lease agreement. By custom and practice, such written form agreements often contained a reciprocal “defect-curing” clause requiring both parties to abstain from terminating the lease early on the grounds of discovered defects in such leases. This essentially gave both parties the opportunity to apply defect-curing amendment activities and avoided sometimes minor errors being used as a “casus belli” and a subsequent early lease termination.

Whilst much of this was based upon goodwill and common sense, nevertheless, in the past, it had created some confusion in court decisions. In some instances, the right of one party or the other to apply defect rectification in the lease agreement was upheld by a court; whereas other courts had refuted the right.

The current decision

The above-mentioned formal court decision appears now to have finally quashed the notion that the defect-curing clause has any legal weight.

Impact assessment

The law retains a provision for what is termed “goodwill” between the parties. The objective of this is to try and avoid tenants or landlords using relatively minor and perhaps extremely technical flaws in the written-form lease agreement, as a justification for early termination. However, as goodwill is notoriously difficult to precisely define, it is anticipated that this will need to be looked at by due legal process on a case-by-case basis when errors are being cited, as a justification for early termination.

It therefore seems intuitively likely that now both tenants and landlords may have a potentially rather easier route through which to justify an early escape from a binding lease. While some will see this as an opportunity, others may see it as a serious concern.

The issues

Although it is impossible to be definitive, it is possible to envisage scenarios such as:

  • a landlord seeking to terminate an existing lease agreement early in order to enter into a more favourable lease with a third party;
  • tenants doing the same, because they no longer wish to be committed to their previous lease undertakings.

In both cases, this may offer advantages for the sponsoring party, but potentially serious consequences for the other.

There is, of course, no reliable forecast at this stage as to how prevalent such occurrences might be.


This is now the new reality that both tenants and landlords may have to live with. The court’s decision has made the position clearer.

The obvious implication for all parties is that lease agreements must be in perfect conformity to the agreed written form, so as to eliminate or at worst very significantly reduce the opportunities for questions arising under defect auspices. This may well lead to reluctance of investors and lenders to provide funding for real estate assets where doubts about defect lease arrangements exist.

This also further re-emphasises the existing standard wisdom of avoiding informal lease agreements, addenda to them in the form of informal notes or letters and purely verbal agreements relating to items contained within the lease.


An option for landlords, tenants and lenders to cure defects in lease agreements is voidable lease insurance. The voidable lease cover avoids the problem of the landlord having to approach the tenant to cure the written form defect by an amendment or having to give warranties or other collateral as part of the loan purchase agreement. This can, in many cases, be more practical and cost effective.

This insurance is available for landlords, tenants and their finance partners. Insurance for a finance partner may encourage them to continue to provide finance at an acceptable cost, in even the trickiest cases.

DUAL Asset Underwriting offers this product in Germany, amongst a number of other insurance products for real estate related transactional risks. Should you be interested to learn more about our wide range of insurance products, please contact us.

BLOG | Probate Insurance - Don't look back in anger

Writing a will gives you the peace of mind that when you die, your estate will be divided up just as you wish – whether between your children or grandchildren, charities, your spouse...writes Kate Thorp, our Executor & Inheritance Protection Manager...

Yet, surprisingly in recent years, the number of cases of wills being challenged after a loved one’s death has increased.

Recent disputes around the estates of celebrities include:

  • Singer Michael Jackson’s siblings claiming his will was fake after being left out of his will following his death in 2009.
  • Actor Robin William’s third wife and adult children going to court in 2015 over his “celebrity memorabilia,” despite his estate being carefully left in trusts between them all, prior to his death.
  • Singer James Brown. His case is still ongoing since his death in 2006. The singer reportedly left most of his estate to a number of charities – yet his family are disputing this.

It’s not just celebrities who fall foul of will disputes when they die, however, in an ever increasingly litigious society, disgruntled people are challenging wills where they believe they are entitled to inherit – even if a will does not make provision for them and does not comply with the wishes of the deceased.

What about the well-publicised Ilott v Mitson case? This dominated the press for nearly a decade and finally concluded last year. This is the case of an estranged adult daughter being left out of her mother’s will. The deceased left her estate worth around £500,000 to three charities, which the daughter, Heather Illot, challenged.

A district judge made an original settlement of £50,000 to Mrs Ilott who appealed against it saying the amount was not generous enough. This went to the Court of Appeal who then ruled that Mrs Ilott should be awarded £160,000, including £143,000 to buy her housing association home.

The three charities who were due to receive the monies as per the deceased’s wishes took the case to the Supreme Court, who overturned the Court of Appeal decision and reverted to the original settlement of £50,000.

Why are wills being challenged?

In the last decade, soaring house prices have turned families on relatively modest incomes into property millionaires almost overnight. And the introduction of pension freedoms in April 2015 means that families may have more cash to leave to relatives when they die.

This, coupled with modern family dynamics, with divorce, second marriages, stepchildren and half-brothers and sisters etc., may mean that grieving is put to one side while those left behind battle for what they think is theirs – even if that doesn’t agree with what a will says.

I find this all very sad. We are often asked to insure against will disputes at DUAL. In this day and age, perhaps it is now more important than ever not to look back in anger but to accept the final wishes of the testator.

NEWS | 2017 in review - a year of growth

DUAL Asset Underwriting is pleased to announce another spectacular year of growth, which has seen our Gross Written Premium for 2017 rise to just under £40m! Our global coverage now extends across 35 countries, making us one of the most international title insurers in the world.

Our innovative online comparison site continues to go from strength to strength. We recently launched the commercial version in England & Wales with four insurers providing competitive quotes. Please keep a look out for commercial coming soon in Scotland and Northern Ireland and also our newly rebranded homepage with quick quote functionality and training videos.

We continue to look at new market opportunities and have successfully grown our US reinsurance program over the last year. We have also worked to put the foundations in place for our new Indian reinsurance market, which we expect to grow rapidly over the coming years.

2018 is already shaping up to be an exciting year - the team continues to expand in London, Norwich and Manchester, with the underwriting team now up to 25. Next month’s newsletter will be announcing that we have another four great recruits joining the team……We will also be moving to new offices in November, where we will be taking the top floor at One Creechurch Place (http://onecreechurchplace.com) and we will be celebrating our 5th birthday in the usual DUAL Asset style!

As always, this success couldn’t be achieved without our key partners at Hyperion, XL Catlin, Fidelis, Evolution, Liberty and RSA. Finally and most importantly, a huge thanks to our insurance brokers, lawyers, conveyancers and customers - we certainly couldn't have done it without you!

NEWS | DUAL Asset Underwriting nominated for Innovation Award

DUAL Asset Underwriting are delighted to announce that they are a Finalist in the Innovation in Practice category at this year’s Scottish Legal Awards in recognition of their online platform My Defective Title Shop.com.

The service allows Scottish conveyancers a quick and easy way to find and buy online a choice of legal indemnity policies for residential property transactions in Scotland.

Their innovative and user-friendly portal - provided by DUAL Asset Underwriting - offers three quotes for residential property, enabling conveyancers a choice of cover options and cost. It drafts and issues policies for over 40 different residential title defects, covering up to £5m at a few clicks of the mouse.

Kirstin Nee, Senior Underwriter at DUAL Asset Underwriting, commented: “We are thrilled that our online platform has been recognised for its innovation. Our aim with the platform was to make the lives of Scottish conveyancers that little bit easier with a choice of policies covering a wide range of risks.”

You can read more about My Defective Title Shop here: https://my-defective-title-shop.com

You can read more about the Scottish Legal Awards 2018 here: http://kdmedia.co.uk/legalawards/2018-finalists/

NEWS | Evolution Insurance joins My Legal Indemnity comparison site

Recently Elite Insurance have stopped writing legal indemnity insurance. As a result we have now replaced Elite with Evolution Insurance Group, so the My Legal Indemnity Shop is now back up to providing quotes from three different insurers.

Evolution have been providing legal indemnity insurance capacity for Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) for several years, so will already be a familiar name to many of you.

In addition to the above change, we have worked hard to improve the functionality and offering that the site provides. Key benefits are:

  1. Premiums have been revised, offering still greater value and particularly so on higher limits of indemnity.
  2. Contingent Buildings, Maisonette/Flat and Contaminated Land Indemnity all now have extended periods of insurance.
  3. ‘Live Chat’ has been added, giving you ‘real time’ access to underwriters.

Existing policies provided by Elite Insurance are unaffected and all claims will be honoured by Elite, who will continue to meet its liabilities to policyholders and claimants alike. Any questions or feedback on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

NEWS | Meeting at MIPIM? DUAL Asset Underwriting will be there!

DUAL Asset Underwriting will be at MIPIM between Tuesday 14th and Friday 17th March. We would be delighted to arrange a meeting to discuss how our insurance solutions can assist and add value to your real estate transactions. Our team specialises in legal indemnity, defective title, title to shares and W&I insurance.

In the last three years, we have insured in 25 countries, so if you have a rights of light issue in England, a donation issue in Italy, a challenge to building permit in France, an ongoing restitution claim in CEE or a zoning problem in Spain, we will be able to tailor a bespoke insurance solution to facilitate your real estate deal.

Please contact a member of our team to arrange a meeting:

Ian Keith Managing Director
Mobile: +44 (0)7846 572 524
Tel: +44 (0)207 337 6477
Email: IKeith@dualgroup.com

Fergus Davey Senior Underwriter
Mobile: +44 (0)7779 320 327
Tel: +44 (0)207 337 6492
Email: FDavey@dualgroup.com

Kirstin Nee Senior Underwriter
Mobile: +44 (0)7894 867 476
Tel: +44 (0)20 7337 9875
Email: KNee@dualgroup.com

Natalie Leversedge Head of Operations
Mobile: +44 (0)7917 367 698
Tel: +44 (0)207 337 6462
Email: NLeversedge@dualgroup.com

BLOG | PWC's Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2017

Very well done to Gareth Lewis and the PWC team for producing their Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2017.

Here’s a link to the report and a quick summary of the main findings:

  • Most participants continue to see real value in Real Estate
  • Unsurprisingly given political developments, many are happy to sacrifice yield for less risk
  • The main urban destinations for investors - German cities dominate; Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich sandwich Dublin (yes Dublin-great recovery guys) in the top 5
  • By 2030 demographic changes will transform the real estate market (see my post of 09/01/17)
  • 92% of participants think that UK will fall, but how much of this contribution was before the Trump vote and clear signals that the UK’s Special Relationship (and not the EU) is a priority for the USA?
  • The Nordics are on the rise again

Happy hunting in 2017 - but be careful out there!

BLOG | The results are in!

In 2013, we started DUAL Asset Underwriting with a simple, but audacious goal. By now, we wanted to be the most international asset insurer, with the broadest level of coverage.

We came to the end of that initial 3 year business plan at the end of September.

During this period, we have insured over £70billion worth of real estate, mortgage and inherited assets, spread across 24 countries around the world. In our third financial year alone, we wrote £17.2million of premium!

As you can imagine, with the team that we have at DUAL, we are not ones to sit back and rest on this success. In the last 2 months, our team have been with our customers in the UK, India, US, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Kenya, Poland, Czech Republic and Romania! Please do not hesitate to call us if you need assistance on a property, share or probate transaction anywhere in the world.

It has been a hugely successful 3 years and I have just picked out a few of the key highlights below.

A massive thank you has to go to our business partners at Hyperion, XL Catlin, Fidelis, Elite and RSA for all their support - and most of all to our brilliant insurance brokers, lawyers and customers - we certainly couldn't have done it without you!

We look forward to more fun and games with you over the coming years.


The DUAL Asset team

Share Ownership Insurance

With more and more property deals now being transacted through a share purchase, the ownership and title of shares is just as important as the title to the property. We are the first insurer to combine a property ownership insurance with a share ownership insurance. This can work as a standalone product or as a hybrid product with a warranty & indemnity insurance.

Comparison Site

We waited 2 years to look closely at residential property risks, because we wanted to introduce something of real value for brokers and conveyancers and not just launch the same old online purchasing site. Over the next few years, consumer and micro SME regulation will demand that consumers understand options around insurance. Legal defence cost variants, the option to have an excess and pay less and the option to insure their lender and not themselves will become easy choices. Tied agency, single insurer solutions will become as "current" as self-issue packs...

We launched my-legal-indemnity-shop.com in England & Wales earlier this year to provide exactly this solution – a choice of 3 insurers online with different coverage options makes the purchase of legal indemnity insurance a much easier, compliant and attractive solution. Northern Ireland will be launching this month, Scotland in January and then commercial to follow shortly after.


The DUAL team has worked with the Indian market since 2005 to try and introduce Title Insurance there. India is now ready! The Real Estate Bill 2016 introduces it, the regulator and insurers are nearly there and REIT legislation is on the way. Please get in touch if you act for any investors looking at the Indian property market.


The Title Insurance industry was born in California in the 1880s and has been dominated by three major players. DUAL is now shaking up the norm, bringing financially strong, rated reinsurance capacity to this market, whilst delivering innovative underwriting solutions for property investors.

NEWS | Title Insurance arrives in India

As part of the much heralded Real Estate Act 2016, the Indian government encouraged the insurance industry to offer Title Insurance for investment in Indian Real Estate.

The government expects the security that Title Insurance provides to boost Indian Real Estate investment and help buyers and sellers better manage their liabilities.

I am delighted to announce that DUAL & Fidelis, with our local partners, are ready to start Title Insuring Indian Real Estate.

If you would like to discuss your projects with us, please get in touch.

BLOG | 2017 Uncertainty, 2030 Megatrends

So happy new year everyone! What will 2017 bring?

  • More Trump Bump or a Trump Dump?
  • A Brexit Bounce or a Brexit Bundle?

Of course no-one knows any more and one thing that 2016 should have taught us, is that we should be wary of people who think they do.

Over the long run, only one thing about real estate is certain; demographics will influence property prices over time.

So here is a link to an interesting piece of work from TH Real Estate which analyses macro demographics and come to a “Famous Five” conclusion.

The view is that by 2030:

  • 2/3 of the world’s population will live in our cities
  • Asia will contribute more to the global economy than US and Europe combined
  • The number of middle and high income households will double
  • The elderly (>64) will double as a % of the global population
  • Internet users will double (>4.3BN)

Happy hunting in 2017!