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Words in the News
Wednesday 31 March 2004
Slavery insurance claim
Slaves A group of descendants of black American slaves is to begin legal action in New York. They are suing the company that insured the ships which allegedly carried their relatives across the Atlantic to work as slaves.
This report from Mark Gregory:
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This is a highly unusual case. Lloyds of London, the world's oldest insurance market, is being sued for alleged complicity in genocide and the destruction of indigenous communities in Africa two centuries ago.

A group of descendants claims Lloyds underwriters are liable to pay compensation because they provided insurance cover for ships used to transport millions of slaves to plantations in America. And to press their claim, the descendants have hired a well known American lawyer, Ed Fagan, who made his name winning compensation for victims of the Nazi Holocaust from Swiss banks. He's currently involved in high profile law suits against multi- national companies said to have profited from apartheid in South Africa.

Mr Fagan insisted the claim against Lloyds was credible because other communities had managed to win compensation in the courts for wrongs suffered in the distant past. Lloyds, for its part, refused to comment saying they hadn't seen details of the case yet. But a spokesman said previous compensation claims relating to slavery had been rejected in the courts.

Mark Gregory, BBC
Listen Listen to the words
being sued
if someone is claiming money from a company in a legal case, the company is being sued
alleged complicity in
supposed involvement in
people in an insurance company who agree to pay money to other people if they suffer losses
legally responsible
money that is paid to someone because something unpleasant has happened to them
to press their claim
to strengthen their demand for compensation
people in later generations who are related to the slaves are their descendants
high profile
something that attracts a lot of attention
valid, and so may succeed
trial that will take place
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