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Russian Jets: Multibillion-Euro court battle begins in Dublin

Russian Jets: Multibillion-Euro court battle begins in Dublin

Russian Jets: Multibillion-Euro court battle begins in Dublin

Russian Jets: Multibillion-Euro court battle begins in Dublin

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  • The world’s largest aircraft lessors are suing insurers over losses of at least $8 billion due to jets stranded in Russia.
  • Insurers contesting the claims include Lloyd’s of London, Chubb, and Fidelis.
  • AerCap, the world’s biggest aircraft lessor, is pursuing its claims through London’s High Court.
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In a Dublin courtroom on Tuesday, some of the world’s largest aircraft lessors faced off against their insurers, marking the start of a months-long battle over around 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) of insurance claims related to jets stranded in Russia.

Dozens of insurers around the world are being sued by lessors over losses of at least $8 billion after more than 400 planes were prevented from leaving Russia when Western sanctions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine forced the termination of their leases.

SMBC, Avolon, BOC Aviation, CDB Aviation, Nordic Aviation Capital, and Carlyle Aviation Partners, among others, are pursuing their claims in Ireland, where more than 60 percent of the world’s leased aircraft are owned or managed. Insurers contesting the claims include Lloyd’s of London, Chubb, and Fidelis.

Some insurers are balking at payouts, alleging that there has not yet been a physical loss of the planes or that the planes are still in the process of being repossessed. Others have argued that lessors voluntarily ended leasing agreements or that Western sanctions prevent insurers from providing cover.

Senior Counsel Paul Gallagher, representing four lessors, told the court in an opening statement that the variety of arguments made by lawyers — including whether the issue only relates to narrower “war risk” policies or also to broader “all-risk” insurance — is “bewildering and confusing.”

“Insurers cannot agree on the meaning of their policies,” said Gallagher, the first to speak in an opening by lessors that is to run until June 19. Expectations are that the case will last around seven months.

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According to a courts service spokesperson, the case is the largest ever heard in Ireland by several lawyers and is being held in a makeshift court because no courtroom in the country is large enough to accommodate the 180 legal professionals expected to attend each day.

On Tuesday, court officials allowed around 50 lawyers into a courtroom located in an open-plan office, with a similar number watching via a video link in an adjoining former canteen.

Irish-based AerCap, the world’s biggest aircraft lessor, is pursuing its insurance claims through London’s High Court, with what its lawyers have described as a “mega trial” scheduled to start in October. Other lessors have taken cases to the United States. Since launching their lawsuits, lessors have secured settlements with Russia totaling more than $2.5 billion for more than 100 jets, with ownership transferred to Russian airlines.

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