A RESPECTED businessman has hailed a major victory after a court ruling demanded insurance payouts for losses incurred during the first national lockdown.

Paul Milsom, owner of the restaurant, hotel and events chain Milsom Hotels and Restaurants and Kesgrave Hall, is among tens of thousands of businesses now due compensation for losses acquired over the first Covid-19 lockdown, the Supreme Court ruled.

He said: “When the problem began to arise in March, the factor that helped us deal with all the worry was the business interruption insurance which would help us in our hour of need.

“When we closed down, we approached our insurers for a payment and they flatly said no, they don’t pay out on a pandemic.

“Yet when I checked the small print of the policy there was no mention of the word pandemic.”

The first knock back from the insurers occurred at a time when the furlough scheme had not yet been announced and could have been devastating for the business.

The following three months in which Mr Milsom’s family business - which includes Le Talbooth and Milsoms in Dedham and The Pier in Harwich, was closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions resulted in “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in losses.

It also saw a turnover from this financial year currently being down 60 per cent on the year before.

Over the past financial year, the businesses have been closed for seven and a half months, with all bookings cancelled.

One couple had to rebook their wedding four times at one of Mr Milsom’s venues as the changing restrictions caused havoc.

Mr Milsom added: “It’s been a year full of huge stress and worry, it’s certainly been the most demanding year of my life – the financial pressures have been enormous.

“If we had the support which we should have done from the insurance companies, it would have made a massive difference. It’s been a huge victory for the Financial Conduct Authority in the court. I am delighted with the judgement.”

Thousands of small businesses nationwide which were forced to close during the pandemic are expected to receive payouts on insurance claims worth more than £1billion.

The Financial Conduct Authority, which brought the test case, said it would now be working with insurers to ensure they “move quickly” to pay claims to businesses, some of which have been struggling to stay afloat.

Judges threw out the appeals from six insurance companies and largely supported the arguments made by the FCA and a policyholder action group – prompting the law firm Reed Smith to declare that this was “a catastrophic outcome” for insurers.