Fire safety failings debated in hotel fire insurance payout of Dh1.25 billion

Fire safety failings debated in hotel fire insurance payout of Dh1.25 billion

Fire safety failings have cost a Dubai hotel their insurance payout of Dh1.25 billion at the Dubai Civil Court.

The Address Downtown hotel, owned by Emaar Properties, broke out in flames on New Yera’s Eve in 2015. After the fire, insurancers Orient Insurance paid the developer Dh1.25 billion to cover for the losses resulting from the fire. However, UAE-based Orient Insurance have now been attempting to recover the payout given.

After the settlement, Orient Insurance lodged a civil case at Dubai Courts accusing contractors who worked on the construction of the hotel – including ALEC Engineering and Construction, Mirage and GAJ, Atkins and Arabtec – of failing to implement fire safety requirements and therefore contributing to the spread of the fire.

As a result of the fire safety failings, the company requested that they be paid back the insurance amounts they had paid to Emaar.

The case was dismissed, however, and a ruling in favour of the contractors was upheld by the Dubai Court of Appeal on Wednesday last week.

Sherif Hikal, founding partner at OGH Legal, acting on behalf of ALEC Engineering and Construction, discussed the outcome in interviews after the ruling. He said: “Our client’s position was properly articulated from day one, and three years later, the honourable Dubai Courts confirmed it as right.

“It was a very complex case with very complicated technical issues.”

Documents seen in court included reports by an experts committee which stated that the contractors had not been found at fault and that the fire had been caused by an electrical short-circuit.

Mohamed ElGhatit from OGH Legal commented: “The technical findings of the seven-member committee concluded that there were no errors in the manner in which the building was constructed.”

The ruling can be appealed within 60 days.