Macaura v Northern Assurance Co Ltd

Members have no interest in a company’s property

The owner of a timber estate sold all the timber to a company which was owned almost solely by him. He was the company’s largest creditor. He insured the timber against fire, but in his own name. After the timber was destroyed by fire the insurance company refused the claim.

The House of Lords held that in order to have an insurable interest in property a person must have a legal or equitable interest in that property. The claim failed as “the corporator even if he holds all the shares is not the corporation… neither he nor any creditor of the company has any property legal or equitable in the assets of the corporation.” (per Lord Wrenbury, at pg 633).

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