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Paris court rules against Axa in row over pandemic payouts

PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - French insurer Axa said on Thursday it would appeal a Paris commercial court ruling ordering it to pay five restaurant owners who had to shut during France’s coronavirus lockdowns, in the latest setback for the group.

Axa has been at the centre of a row in France over whether insurers should honour policies after businesses were hurt by the pandemic, and it has won several cases which concluded the contracts did not include pandemic coverage.

But one restaurant owner, Stephane Manigold, scored an early victory against Axa in May, leading him to a settlement with the insurer. Axa also began negotiations with several hundred other policyholders with ambiguous contracts, but has pushed back against some claims.

Axa said on Thursday that the latest court ruling set a confusing legal precedent and added that it would appeal.

“While we remain very worried by the extent of the financial consequences of lockdown measures for many of our clients, we cannot pay out on events explicitly excluded from our contracts,” Jacques de Peretti, the chief executive of Axa France said in a statement. (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)