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City pub co-owned by rugby stars is taking insurance firm to court

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Lemon & Duke pub co-owners, rugby stars Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, with Rob and Dave Kearney

Lemon & Duke pub co-owners, rugby stars Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, with Rob and Dave Kearney

Lemon & Duke pub co-owners, rugby stars Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, with Rob and Dave Kearney

A popular city centre pub has issued High Court proceedings against FBD Insurance plc over its refusal to pay out on business interruption claims during the Covid-19 crisis.

Lemon & Duke managing director Noel Anderson said papers were lodged on Tuesday.

"There's more to this than meets the eye, but at this early stage it would be premature to comment," he said.

Lemon & Duke is co-owned by Anderson and Ireland rugby stars Sean O'Brien, Rob and Dave Kearney and Jamie Heaslip.

While details of the action were not outlined, it is understood the proceedings relate to FBD's refusal to pay out on business interruption claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Anderson is the incoming chairman of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and has been outspoken about Ireland's insurance crisis, campaigning for premiums to be lowered.

He collaborated with some of Ireland's most prominent rugby stars to open Lemon & Duke in 2016.

The proceedings state the legal action was launched by the Inn on Hibernian Way Ltd, which operates Lemon & Duke.

Mr Anderson, who is also managing director of The Bridge bar in Ballsbridge, told the Herald in a previous interview that Lemon & Duke removed its dance floor in a bid to lower its insurance premium.

The publican said he completely changed the model of his business in an attempt to combat soaring insurance costs.

"Insurance costs are killing the industry," he said.

"You see people complaining about how expensive drinks are and how they have to pay nearly €10 for a gin and tonic, but between rates and excessive insurance you have to charge that much or you won't survive."

FBD is the biggest insurer to the licensed trade in Ireland. It is estimated that around 1,300 members of the LVA and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), which represent pubs in the Dublin area and nationwide respectively, are insured by FBD.

The refusal of insurers, including FBD, to pay out on business interruption policies to those hit by Covid-19 has angered publicans and restaurateurs.