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LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) – London’s High Court on Friday approved a fast-track appeal of an unprecedented test case against some of the world’s biggest insurers, brought by Britain’s markets regulator, allowing it to leapfrog straight into the Supreme Court.

The decision was expected, but nevertheless spells further delays for thousands of struggling businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic, who had hoped a judgment delivered two weeks ago would lead to prompt payment of disputed claims.

At a webcast hearing on Friday to hammer out how judges should word court orders to reflect and distil last month’s complex, 160-page judgment, judges approved the necessary certificate to allow the highest court to consider the case.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought a case against eight insurers in June to clarify whether 21 policy wordings, affecting potentially 700 types of policies, 60 insurers, 370,000 policyholders and billions in insurance claims, covered disruption and government-ordered closures to curb the virus.

Judges examined policy wordings that cover business interruption when insured premises cannot be accessed because of public authority restrictions, in the event of a notifiable disease within a specified radius — and hybrid wordings.

The FCA said the judgment ruled mainly in the favour of policyholders, although some insurers were more circumspect, and subsequent negotiations over which policies should now pay out collapsed on Wednesday. (Reporting by Kirstin Ridley, editing by Louise Heavens)

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