Bank Guarantee

A move that may prove to be a game-changer but the proof lies in the pudding

A government procurement contract (GPC) for goods and/ or services usually requires the elected counterparty (Contractor) to furnish a bank guarantee (BG) of upto 5-10% of the contract value as performance security, as per General Financial Rules 2017. Rising non-performing assets, in recent years, have prompted banks to exercise greater caution while issuing BGs, due to which, the cost of procuring a BG has gone up from 20-40 basis points to 50-130 basis points and the cash margin required for securing a BG has also increased from 15-20% to 40-100% of the amount of the BG. Owing to these factors, the procurement of a BG has become increasingly cumbersome for Contractors and they have been long-advocating the need for an alternative to BGs.

Continue Reading Replacement of bank guarantees with surety bonds in government procurement: A welcome relief?

Interpreting Insurance Contracts: Special Considerations – Part II

In part I of this blog, we have discussed some of the principles of interpretation set and relied upon by Courts whilst construing and interpreting insurance contracts, including that of strict construction, essentials of an insurance contract and the requirement of Uberrimei fidei i.e., good faith. In this part, we will delve into other principles which form the basis for interpretation of insurance contracts, including presumption as to materiality of information sought, effect of misrepresentation and the applicability of the rule of contra proferentem to insurance contracts

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Interpreting Insurance Contracts Special Considerations – Part I

Insurance is the act of providing against a possible loss, by entering into a contract with one who is willing to give assurance — that is, to bind himself to make good such loss should it occur. In this contract, the chances of benefit are equal to the insurer and the insured. The first actually pays a certain sum and the latter undertakes to pay a larger, if an accident should happen. The one renders his property secure; the other receives money with the probability that it is clear gain. The instrument by which the contract is made is called a policy; the stipulated consideration a premium.[i]

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Liberalisation of FDI In Insurance Companies – A look at the step(s) taken since the Big Budget Announcement

The industry is now well versed with the move to liberalise foreign direct investment (“FDI”) in Indian insurance companies to 74%, from the existing cap of 49%. The announcement was first made by the Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2021, as part of her Budget presentation. The move followed the raise in FDI limits to 100% in insurance intermediaries, which was announced by Ms. Sitharaman in July 2019 and effected in September 2019.
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Pledge of Shares of an Insurance Company - A discussion on IRDAI clarifications

Introduction

We have in our recent post discussed the clarifications issued by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (“IRDAI”)  in relation to Transfer of Shares of an insurance company. These clarifications were notified pursuant to the circular issued to all CMDs and CEOs of insurance and re-insurance companies on July 22, 2020 (“Circular”). However, the Circular also discussed certain critical issues relating to creation of pledge over shares of an insurance company.
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Transfer of Shares of an Insurance Company - The much-needed clarifications

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (“IRDAI”) issued a circular (“Circular”) on July 22, 2020 to all CMDs and CEO of insurance and re-insurance companies with a view to bring more clarity on issues relating to the transfer of shares of insurance companies and the creation of pledge over shares of insurance companies Set out below is a brief summary of the clarifications provided by the Circular in relation to transfer of shares of an insurance company:

 A. Clarification on IRDAI’s guidelines for transfer of shares of listed companies
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IRDAI’s Approach to ‘Fit and Proper’ Assessment in light of the Sahara Life Saga

Introduction

An issue of significant relevance to financial regulators world-over is the fitness and propriety of key shareholders of financial entities. The objective of this blog is to analyse IRDAI’s approach to assessment of ‘fit and proper’ status of significant owners of insurers, especially in light of the order passed by the IRDAI in the matter of M/s Sahara India Life Insurance Company Limited (“Sahara Life”) on December 30, 2020 (“IRDAI Order”). Before we delve into IRDAI’s approach in this regard, it is important to trace the chronology of events, leading to the IRDAI Order.
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COVID-19: Absence of Legislative Intervention may impact Commercial Insurance Claims

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown to control its spread has impacted businesses significantly and also led to various entertainment and sporting events being either postponed or cancelled. While one would expect business interruption and event cancellation insurance to cover such losses, such claims are likely to encounter certain issues, which are discussed in this post.

Being Covered under an Insured Peril

Most insurance policies have a list of causes/ events that are covered by the policy. These events/ causes are called insured perils. Only losses/ damages that are caused by insured perils can form the basis of a claim under the said policy. For instance, the policy wording of a standard-form future events insurance covers certain specified losses if any insured event is cancelled due to either (i) loss or damage to the venue due to fire, allied perils, earthquake, flood or cyclone, resulting in cancellation of the event; or (ii) death of current Prime Minister, President of the Republic of India, Chief Minister of the State in which the event is being held, due to which National/ State mourning is declared or any other prominent personality.[1] Claims under such policies are generally triggered when events like sporting tournaments, award functions, etc., are cancelled due to insured perils. It is possible for insurance companies to include epidemic/ pandemic as an insured peril in such policies and charge a higher premium for doing so. For instance, the All England Lawn Tennis Association has been paying a higher premium for the past 15 years for such insurance.[2] In contrast, the cancellation of Indian sporting events like the Indian Premier League are unlikely to have insurance coverage for epidemic/ pandemic since the same are generally not underwritten by insurers in India.[3]
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100% FDI allowed in insurance intermediaries - No more ‘peekaboo’!

The Government of India notified the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) (Second Amendment) Rules, 2020 (“Non-Debt Rules Second Amendment”) on April 27, 2020, amending the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-Debt Instruments) Rules, 2019. With this amendment, foreigners can now look to acquire 100% stake in an insurance intermediary, subject to verification by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). This amendment was much awaited by insurance intermediaries[1], which have in the past lobbied to be declassified from the same bracket as insurance companies, in so far as foreign investment was concerned.
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Coronavirus - COVID19- Faqs

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a “pandemic” on March 11, 2020.

The outbreak and the rapid spread of COVID-19 has sent shock waves across global markets. It has disrupted supply chains, leading to the closure of several manufacturing facilities globally; serious disruption of air and sea traffic and closure of vital air routes, like the one between the US and Europe. This is turn has led to the collapse of stock markets around the world, leading to the loss of billions of dollars, which got wiped out in a matter of days. A combination of all these factors has led to a decline in the overall volume of global economic activity, forcing the world economy towards a possible recession. It is forcing Boards across the globe to confront a host of difficult questions on how business should be conducted during a global public health crisis.
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