Paris (AFP)

The Paris commercial court on Thursday ordered the insurer Axa to compensate five restaurateurs for their operating losses due to containment due to the Covid-19 epidemic, a decision the group intends to appeal.

In this judgment, of which AFP has obtained a copy, the Paris Commercial Court considers that "the conditions required by Axa" to cover the operating losses of these restaurateurs "are met".

As a result, he ordered Axa to pay a total of 240,000 euros to these five restaurateurs as a down payment for their operating losses that occurred between March and May.

An expert will have to define more precisely the extent of these losses.

"The exclusion clause that Axa opposed to restaurateurs is not legal, that's what the court said", told AFP Me Guillaume Aksil, who defended these professionals.

Their contracts guaranteed the operating loss in the event of "administrative closure, due to an epidemic", but Axa "said: + There is an exclusion: if another establishment, whatever its nature or its activity, is located in the same department, is closed for an identical cause, so I no longer guarantee you + ", he detailed.

"However, an epidemic will not affect a single establishment in a single department ... therefore, the guarantee will never be used. And to be legal, an exclusion must be limited, precisely circumscribed", continued the lawyer.

"The court said that this clause + does not meet the condition of limitation provided for by article L 113-1 of the Insurance Code +", reported Me Aksil, explaining that the insurer will have to compensate restaurateurs, who are " on the verge of putting the key under the door "immediately, a possible appeal not being suspensive.

In detail, this decision benefits three Parisian restaurateurs and two others located respectively in Puylaroque (Tarn-et-Garonne) and Bastia.

"The position of the Commercial Court of Paris, contrary to those of the courts of Toulouse and Bourg-en-Bresse, reinforces the extreme confusion on the issue of operating losses", reacted for his part Eric Lemaire, word of Axa France, in a written reaction sent to AFP.

"In this very difficult economic context, we deplore this confusion. (...) We are therefore appealing the decisions rendered today and we hope that greater clarity will be provided as quickly as possible by the courts and the courts of appeal ", added Mr. Lemaire.

This judgment is in fact against that of the Toulouse commercial court which, on August 18, in a similar case, had rejected the starred chef Michel Sarran, restaurateur in the Pink City and member of the jury of the Top Chef show on M6. .

In Bourg-en-Bresse, the commercial court also dismissed at the end of August another restaurateur, installed in Ambérieu-en-Bugey (Ain), in a similar case.

At the same time, the Tarascon commercial court (Bouche-du-Rhône), on the other hand, ordered Axa to compensate a restaurateur in the Alpilles for his operating losses for the same type of contract.

"Toulouse and Bourg-en-Bresse gave reason to Axa, Marseille and Tarascon, to the restaurateurs. Today five restaurateurs have won their case: we are at 7 against 2. On a final score of a football match, there is no 'There is no confusion, "joked Mr. Aksil, who defends 22 other clients in similar cases.

These various decisions relate to contracts mainly marketed in Axa's network of general agents or with partner brokers, a spokesperson for the insurer told AFP, specifying that 18,000 of these contracts are counted.

Several dozen other court decisions are expected, especially in Marseille and Bordeaux.

© 2020 AFP