Sunday, 24 August 2014

Lockerbie insurers to sue US government

[This is the headline over a report (tagged “Exclusive”) on page 27 of today’s Scottish Sunday Express. It picks up an item that I published on this blog on 12 August. Today’s Express article, which does not appear on the newspaper’s website, reads as follows:]

Insurers who paid compensation to the families of Lockerbie victims are suing the US government for almost £60million, the Sunday Express can reveal.

Equitas, linked to Lloyd’s of London, and Aviation & General Insurance, have launched a joint action after being blocked from seeking payment from Libya for its involvement in the bombing.

Lloyd’s and Aviation & General paid out £33million to families of those killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town in December 1988.

They, along with New York Marine & General, also parted with £25million over claims related to another Libyan terror attack which destroyed an EgyptAir flight in 1985.

According to papers filed with the US Court of Federal Claims on July 31, the two insurers say Colonel Gaddafi’s Libyan regime supported both attacks by providing weapons, funds, airline tickets, fake passports and explosives.

However, in 2008, President George Bush blocked any further litigation over the incidents, preventing insurance firms recouping any losses from Libya.

Equitas, which holds all of Lloyd’s pre-1993 liabilities, and Aviation & General are now suing the US administration for £58million.

The court papers read: “Plaintiffs regret being forced to seek compensation from the United States, but they have no other means of redress.

“But for the intervention of the United States, Plaintiffs would have two judgements from the US Federal courts against Libya. Plaintiffs primary objective is to hold Libya accountable for the actions of its former government.”

Libyan spy Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was the only man to be convicted of the atrocity, which claimed 270 lives.

He was released from jail on compassionate grounds in 2009 and protested his innocence right up until he died of cancer in [2012].

Former lawyer Robert Black QC, who is a member of Justice For Megrahi - a campaign group which believes the Libyan was innocent - said he did not believe the law suit “had much hope of success”. [RB: I am still a lawyer. I have not (yet) been disbarred.]

He added: “The action looks to me like a try-on, probably hoping for a ‘nuisance value’ settlement from the US Government.”

A spokesman for Lloyd’s said that the company is no longer linked with Equitas and said that they have “no dealings” with the law suit.

Equitas is now controlled by Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway, while Aviation and General is owned by Ruxley, in London.

The US government, Equitas and Aviation & General Insurance all refused to comment.

[Here’s the full text of what I said in an e-mail to the journalist: “I don't think the action has much hope of success.  Even if the US Presidential Order barred Equitas from suing Libya in the United States, there was nothing to prevent it doing so in Scotland (as it already had done, of course, in relation to compensation paid by Pan Am to Lockerbie victims' families: see And in any event there was nothing to prevent Equitas suing in the US courts before the Presidential Order in 2008.  That they were caught by that Order can be argued to be their own fault for delaying so long: after all, Pan Am 103 was destroyed in 1988 and Megrahi was convicted in 2001. The present action looks to me like a try-on, probably hoping for a "nuisance value" settlement from the US government.”]


  1. Living with the "Lockerbie Affair", 2014

    The former 'MST 13Timer' action for damages against MEBO LTD & Meister/Bollier, for the destroyed Boeing 747 (PanAm 103) - of US$ 32'000'000.00 + 5% interest rate, since 8th November 1993, was in mid-2005, paid for MEBO, by Saif el Gadhafi, (respect, from its Gadhafi Foundation in Geneva) to the representation company for the Trustee of Pan Am 103 Liquidation Trust.

    The question today is: Have the Trusteeship of the PanAm 103 Liquidation Trust (or the Hull War Risk Insurers ?)effectively received the compensation payment ?

    After the Scottish assertion, a MST-13 timer from the company MEBO Ltd., activated the bomb, which brought the Pan Am 103, to crash over Lockerbie (third party liability) - got MEBO Ltd. & Meister/Bollier, by the Swiss law firm Prager Dreifuss, on 6th of January, 1993, a compensation-claim by the representative of the Pan American World Airways Inc. Minmar (495) Limited, 51 Eastcheap, London, EC3M 1JP UK, for the destroyed aircraft Boeing 747, of $ 32million + 5% interest, since. November 8, 1993.
    On 27 February 2002 PanAm Inc. handed all claims for damages, which are caused by the explosion, to the Company MINMAR (495) Limited. The power of attorney was signed by the sole director of the applicant Stephen John Tricks

    IN WITNESS whereof:
    these presents consisting of this and the precidingthreepages, together with the Schedule of one page annexed herato, or executed as follows: - they are subscribed for and on behalf of the said Pan American World Airways Inc. by Paul Rendich in his capacity as the Trustee of the said PanAm Liquidation Trust pursuant to on order of the United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York dated 15 February 1996, at Babylon, New York on Twenty SEcond February 2002, before this witness Elsine Jones, of 405 Goose Lane, Guilford, Connecticut 06437, United States of America; and they are subscribed for and on behalf of the said Minmar (495) Limited by Stephen John Tricks in his capacity as its Director, st Eastcheap, London on the Twenty Seventh day of February 2002, before this witness Natalie Still, of 31 Eastcheep, London EC3M 1JP.
    Signatures as an:
    Witness: Elaine Jones. - - Trustee of the PanAm Liquidation Trust: Paul Rendich
    Witness: Elaine Jones. - - Responsible Officer of PanAm: Paul Rendich

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  2. Well, every government decision will have impact on businesses.

    Usually that is just how it is - those who lost money can't sue.

    So,I assume the claim must be that the decision

    President George Bush blocked any further litigation over the incidents

    was one that he would not be allowed to make. Too specific?

    I tried to google a little for the general
    'suing government for loss law changes'
    Guess what? It is a complicated issue!

    Anyway, should it come that far, the US government will of course simply simply argue in court, that Libya is not proven to be involved at all, which would be very quite easy to argue for nowadays, and so the lawsuits from the insurance companies would have had no merit anyway -

    - hmmm, I realize that they might not think that winning the case based on that defense is not such a happy situation after all.