A North London kosher bakery which was gutted by fire three years ago has failed in a High Court bid to make insurers meet the £400,000 loss.
Mr Justice Blair ruled that Sharon's Bakery (Europe) had used a "fraudulent means or device" to support its insurance claim after its Tottenham warehouse collapsed in flames in June 2008.
Although the losses had not been inflated – and there was no evidence of arson or VAT fraud – the judge said a false equipment invoice had been presented in support of the claim. In consequence, insurance giants Aviva and Axa were entitled to refuse to pay up.
He stressed that it was not a case "in which the insured is dishonestly advancing a claim under the insurance policy to which it knows it is not entitled". He also rejected any suggestion that the destroyed equipment was of "dubious provenance" or that it was not worth what the bakery said it was.
However, the submission of the false invoice – which purported to show "a true sale and purchase transaction" for equipment provided by Bakequip (UK) – amounted to a "fraudulent means or device" which negated the policy.
The judge told the court: "The lie consists of the representation in the invoice that there had been a supply of equipment from Bakequip to Sharon's Bakery Europe... there had been no such transaction."