Court dismisses case against insurance company

National 1 minute, 38 seconds


THE Court of Appeal has thrown out a woman’s case against her insurance company after it found that she deliberately set fire to her shophouse in order to make an indemnity claim worth $450,000.

Aiva Insurance refused to settle the claim after evidence showed the fire was deliberately caused by the shop’s owner, Lai Muy Ling, or someone acting on her behalf.

Lai, who owns Ramai Permai Wholesale Enterprise in Batu Apoi, Temburong, claimed the High Court’s finding of the fire being deliberately started was “speculative and circumstantial at best”.

However, the Court of Appeal disagreed with this argument, saying the original judge’s decision was “so clear and sound on the main issue” and dismissed the appeal with costs.

Lai’s shophouse in Batu Apoi was used to store electrical items and general merchandise, and was also used as a dwelling by Lai and her employees.

At the time of the fire, only Lai and two of here employees were present, with the shophouse holding minimal stock.

Investigators at the scene reported that the fire had spread uncharacteristically fast, with the building already razed when the fire brigade had arrived nine minutes after receiving an emergency call.

With electrical faults and cigarette butts ruled out as a potential cause of the blaze, investigators concluded that an accelerant was used so that the fire would spread rapidly.

Lai claimed the speed of the flames was due to flammable styrofoam containers stored inside the house but investigators found no residue to back up her story.

The original trial judge said the three witnesses appearing on behalf of Lai were “untruthful and unreliable witnesses who tailored their evidence from day to day in order to cover the weaknesses of the plaintiff’s case”.

The plaintiff had also let her insurance policy lapse for some time before she took out a new policy in January 2006, just three months before the fire occurred.

The Brunei Times