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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Insurance
  2. Leading individuals
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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Philip Hopley - Ashurst
    • Brendan McCashin - HFW
    • Mandy Tsang - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Peter Yeldham - King & Wood Mallesons

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Clayton Utz’s team ‘is always available for large-scale advisory work and is quick “sounding board” queries’ under the leadership of Sydney-based David Gerber. The Melbourne-based Fred Hawke is also a core partner in the department and is advising a superannuation fund with regards to insurance coverage for loss arising from an adjustment error, while the ‘exceptional’ Brisbane-based Mark Waller applied his ‘technical expertise, sound commercial advice and strategic acumen’ to assist the government with respect to insurance and risk liability issues arising from the construction of the Commonwealth Games Village in Gold Coast City, alongside Brian Noble who has since left to start his own firm. On the non-contentious side, Lucy Terracall is acting for a large foreign motor vehicle insurer in the transfer of its Australian insurance business to another entity as part of its proposed exit from the Australian market, and senior associate Craig Hine assisted Gerber to counsel a UK life insurer on a longevity risk transfer transaction.

King & Wood Mallesons’ team is ‘excellent on all fronts’ and appreciated for its ‘in-depth knowledge, responsiveness and value for money’. Philip Ward heads the group jointly with Travis Toemoe; global head of risk Peter Stockdale is another name to note. Justin McDonnell, who is based in Brisbane, demonstrates the practice’s strong expertise in litigation through his representation of Seqwater in a A$2bn class action suit in the Supreme Court arising from the 2011 Brisbane floods. Toemoe acted for law firm Clayton Utz in the OZ Minerals class action concerning allegations that the firm breached its duties by failing to advise Oxiana (which became OZ Minerals through merger) on its continuous disclosure obligations. The group also oversaw policy reviews and non-contentious work matters with the support of the ‘very smart’ senior associate Mandy Tsang, who is noted for her ‘great drafting skills and excellent in-depth knowledge of the field’. Senior associate Peter Yeldham is also a key contact.

Minter Ellison’s team, led by Melbourne-based Peter Coats, ‘has extensive industry knowledge and provides relevant and practical advice’ to clients such as Morgan Stanley, QBE and Allianz. The ‘collaborative, responsive and informed’ Chern Tan is ‘customer-focused’ and recently advised Westpac Insurance as a defendant in four separate class actions arising from a bush fire in the Perth area in 2014; Kemsley Brennan works alongside Tan in Sydney and was part of the team overseeing Zurich’s acquisition of Macquarie Life’s risk insurance business. Mark Williams, who recently joined from DLA Piper, leads the advice to a multinational group of companies with regards to a series of claims pertaining to personal injury and property damage. Other key names include Greg Carfoot and Cameron Oxley; Mary MacLeod joined from Thomson Geer. Pamela Madafiglio has retired from partnership.

At Norton Rose Fulbright, Tricia Hobson leads the ‘outcome-focused’ team, which ‘delivers timely and commercial advice’ across the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious insurance work. Brisbane-based Brett Solomonis a leading legal mind in insurance law’; he applied his ‘excellent communication and negotiation skills’ to advising an international company of engineers and their professional indemnity insurers with regards to a dispute pertaining to the design of a high-rise building. In Melbourne, CGU engaged a team led by Nicole Wearne to oversee its initial indemnity policy response and later issues of standing in the context of proceedings filed against Crewe Sharp and four of its former directors. Other highlights includes acting on a major data breach incident, which included assisting the insured with its response to the ongoing investigation, and representing SunWater in a class action arising from serious flooding in Queensland in 2011. The Sydney-based Ray Giblett and Mark Attard in the Melbourne office – which was recently bolstered by the promotion to partner of Matt Ellis and Jyoti Singh – are also names to note. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Specialist insurance firm Wotton + Kearney is ‘the best in class for insurance work in Australia’, provides ‘exceptional client service that consistently delivers’ and its team, led by David Kearney, ‘always goes above and beyond to meet expectations’. In the Melbourne office, Cain Jackson’s advice ‘is always succinct, technically brilliant and above industry standard’; he is leading representation of Slater and Gordon with regards to a securities class action suit following its acquisition of Quindell PSD. Phillip Wotton – based in Sydney alongside the ‘outstanding’ Andrew Moore, Patrick Boardman and Adam Chylek – represented a subsidiary of Rio Tinto in a claim under the company’s captive insurer’s material damage and business interruption policy following the collapse of a pit wall in Utah. Clients also praise the Brisbane-based Raisa Conchin, who is ‘particularly strong in environmental liability claims’; senior associate Dean Pinto plays a key supportive role in the Sydney office.

The quality and thoroughness’ of Clyde & Co LLP’s team ‘is second to none’ and ‘advice always acknowledges the friction between strict legal argument and commercial motivations'. Gareth Horne ‘has a great strategic mind and a hugely effective team working alongside him,’ which includes, among others, the ‘extremely clever and highly dedicated’ Janette McLennan, who represented RGA in a longstanding complex dispute with Metlife, and the newly promoted Tim Searle, who led the advice on a Supreme Court claim brought by a subsidiary of Rio Tinto pertaining to alleged design defects in the construction of new processing plants. Dean Carrigan – who co-heads the practice with John Edmond – ‘is very astute and commercial’ and recently oversaw a significant run-off insurance transaction and a cloud platform data breach matter. Jonathan Wyatt recently joined from Sparke Helmore Lawyers; he is another noteworthy contact alongside Lucinda Lyons. Other key clients include AIG, Chubb, Swiss Re and AXA.

Colin Biggers & Paisleyturns around advice quickly’ and clients recommend the team for being ‘a safe pair of hands with real depth’. Jonathan Newby is a key name and is recommended alongside department co-heads Andrew Tulloch and Patrick Monahan who was appointed to represent the interests of a global law firm in a professional negligence claim complicated by the ongoing relationships between the insured and the claimant. Among other recent highlights features the team’s work for three of seven defendants in a large commercial dispute originating in a sale and purchase agreement related to the administration of a major domestic coal producer. LU Simon also engaged the practice to advise on claims arising from a widely publicised façade fire, which caused significant damage to the Lacrosse building in Melbourne.

DLA Piper’s ‘excellent’ insurance team is noted for its ‘consistent approach to providing outstanding client service in every dealing’ and was recently bolstered by the promotion to partner of the ‘highly intelligent’ James Morse in Sydney and Jock Inness-Campbell in Perth. The team acted for a captive insurer in a pair of professional indemnity claims, and Brisbane-based Sophie Devitt successfully defended two class actions in the NSW Supreme Court arising from recent destructive bush fires – an area where the department has been prominent. On the non-contentious side, the practice also provides regulatory advice and handles policy reviews under the leadership of group co-head Samantha O’Brien in Brisbane. Also singled out is practice co-head David Leggatt, who has significant experience in general and life insurance. Paul Baxter and Drew Castley left to join Hall & Wilcox, while Mark Williams and David Randazzo departed for Minter Ellison and Meridian Lawyers, respectively. Senior associate Natasha Stojanovich joined Lander & Rogers as special counsel.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ insurance offering is noted for its ‘depth and strength’; clients ‘definitely want this team on their side when facing class action proceedings’. In Brisbane, Mark Darwin has significant experience in acting for policyholders; he heads the department jointly with Melbourne-based directors and officers liability expert Peter Holloway, who is noted for his ‘exceptional depth of knowledge’. The team is currently representing DMS Maritime Services in negotiations with the Commonwealth to settle its liability after a navy patrol vessel was destroyed by fire following a welding accident. National Australia Bank appointed the group to oversee the divestment of its life insurance business. Also drawing much praise is Damian Grave, who focuses his practice on class action suits and works alongside ‘strategic thinker’ Alan Mitchell in Melbourne and ‘technically competent’ Jason Betts in Sydney. Special counsel Guy Narburgh also sits in Sydney and has recently handled damages and public liability claims filed under a project-specific insurance policy on behalf of a heavyweight construction company.

At Kennedys, the advice is ‘excellent on all counts’ and ‘every aspect of its insurance law practice is accurate, consummately professional and timely’. The partners ‘are experts in their field, passionate about what they do, and demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and ethics’. The team acts for clients in professional negligence, liability and personal injury claims, among others. Managing partner Matt Andrews represents a group of reinsurers in a claim filed following the collapse of Rio Tinto’s Kennecott mine in Utah, while Penny Taylor leads the advice to second excess layer insurers with respect to professional negligence, breach of retainer and deceptive behaviour claims filed against a law firm. Other noteworthy names include ‘straightforward and excellent’ head of the financial lines group Veronica Chapman, the ‘thorough, effective and responsiveChris Finn, who spearheads the casualty work, and James Melvin, whom clients praise for his ‘acute commercial sense’. Justin Le Blond and Michael Kavanagh joined from HWL Ebsworth and Lander & Rogers respectively.

Lander & Rogers’ practice is jointly led by Ari Abrahams and Lisa Newcombe from the Melbourne office. Brisbane-based Matt Dudakov ‘is a very responsible partner, who always maintains a very high quality of work’; he is representing an insured client in a negligence claim alleging the managers of an aboriginal trust allowed the funds to be mismanaged and spent despite government caps. GHD appointed a team led by Charles Thornley to defend a claim filed by the owner of a mine following its collapse and flooding allegedly due to equipment malfunctions, and special counsel Sybilla Waring-Lambert – who also heads the liability offering – is leading a team advising a client on a multi-party personal injury claim in the NSW Supreme Court. Mark Lindfield joined from DibbsBarker to add to the firm’s non-contentious capabilities; he is a key contact alongside Jon Hunt, who acts for domestic and international insurers in litigation in all courts and tribunals.

Known for its ‘cost-effective and accurate technical advice and responsiveness’, Moray & Agnew’s sizeable team ‘provides a broad geographical spread of expert personnel across all Australian jurisdictions’. The firm was appointed to several public sector panels and strengthened with the arrival of Nick Duggal from TressCox Lawyers and Phillip Grundy from Pointon Partners. Geoff Connellan leads the department and recently acted for an insurer with regards to a series of claims and investigations against a trade union and its officials arising from allegations of misconduct. The ‘commercial and practical’ Peter Tredinnick advises on a multi-party audit claim in the financial services sector involving complex securities class action issues such as indirect causation. Other key contacts include professional indemnity expert Anthony Scott, who ‘is always keen to go the extra mile’, and the ‘extremely knowledgeable and commercially astute’ Jeremy Peck; both are based in Melbourne.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has strong experience acting for policyholders, especially in the infrastructure and construction space, where the ‘highly knowledgeable, succinct, experienced and practical’ practice head Frank Lawson is noted for his ‘exceptional skill in translating complex answers in readily understandable advice’. He is currently acting for a leading engineering contractor in its claim against another engineering company pertaining to alleged losses sustained in the design and construction of a commercial complex, while Daniel Marquet is advising an excess layer insurer on its obligations and exposure in a Federal Court class action suit arising from a debenture scheme. The Brisbane-based team of Julie Cameron and consultant David Abernethy are also noteworthy and recently represented a government-owned entity in a high-value damage claim under an industrial special risks insurance policy, as well as assisting a major insurer in recovery proceedings against a competitor. Special counsel Catherine Oldenburg is also singled out.

HFWprovides a very high level of service and business acumen’. Department head Richard Jowett in Melbourne is frequently recommended; he recently acted for a leading mining company and its captive insurer in claims arising from a major environmental disaster, and is currently overseeing liability and negligence claims in the context of historic flooding. In Sydney, Andrew Dunn represented IAG and its parent company in a dispute relating to Bestobell’s Australian entities, which IAG inherited in its acquisition of CGU from AVIVA, and is currently advising Rolls-Royce on a class action brought by passengers and crew of Qantas flight QF32, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore. Special counsel Brendan McCashin has strong experience in litigation and non-contentious insurance work and is also a key contact in Melbourne.

The names to note in HWL Ebsworth’s insurance group are Richard Smith in Adelaide, litigation expert Matthew Harding in Sydney and experienced insurance specialist Graeme Traves in Brisbane. The health practice operates under the supervision of Kerrie Chambers, and Ivan Medak leads the workers’ compensation group; both are based in Sydney.

Sparke Helmore Lawyers recently added seven new partners to its ranks through lateral hires, internal promotions and a merger with niche insurance firm Jarman McKenna in Perth. The recommended Gillian Davidson heads the national liability team and is representing Sydney Water in Supreme Court proceedings against the owners and operators of a service station which is allegedly responsible for the contamination of a water reservoir. In Perth, Belinda Michalk acted for an insured in a product liability claim seeking compensation for alleged loss due to the design of mining equipment; while, in Melbourne, Patrick McGrath is advising a retailer in Federal Court prosecutions pertaining to allegations of consumer law breaches, including product safety standards. Other key contacts include John Coorey, Chris Wood and Wes Rose, who are all based in Sydney.

Malcolm Stephens ‘keeps things simple and concise’ at Allens, where Melbourne-based national insurance practice head Andrew Maher leads an ‘excellent’ team. On the non-contentious side, Stephens was supported by Michelle Levy to advise a major bank on an internal review of its life insurance claim handling policies; in terms of contentious work, the Melbourne-based Louise Jenkins acted for a mining company in its pursuit of indemnity following a major landslide incident, which caused substantial damage and disruption in the client’s business. The team also handled professional indemnity matters, as shown by Guy Foster’s current counsel to QBE with regards to class action proceedings alleging the client breached its continuous disclosure obligations and engaged in deceptive activities by not revealing the reasons for the profit downgrade in its North American business. He was assisted by senior associate Jonathan Light, who has experience acting for policyholders and insurers in regulatory investigations, class actions and directors and officers liability matters.

Ashurst’s insurance offering is led by Rehana Box and mainly handles non-contentious work for policyholders as well as insurers such as regulatory compliance, establishing general insurance operations in Australia and outsourcing agreements. Senior associate Philip Hopley is currently assisting Box with advising AIA on its takeover of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance business in Australia and New Zealand.

There is ‘a certain feel-good factor associated withBarry.Nilsson.’s insurance team, which recently gained 32 new lawyers, including five partners, to complement its nationwide expansion into Adelaide and Tasmania. The ‘practical and easy-to-deal-with’ Robert Samut represents a leading mining company in a widely publicised parliamentary inquiry into the resurgence of black lung disease which claimants allege is caused by inappropriate dust control and health monitoring practices in place in underground coal mines. The Melbourne-based Nieva Connell acted for a medical services provider in a personal injury class action suit filed on behalf of detained asylum seekers, who allegedly sustained significant physical and psychological injuries as a result of unlawful treatment by the Commonwealth. Practice head Rhett Kennedy specialises in financial lines, real estate and public and product liability, and is also a key contact along with Peter Ewin and Nicholas Andrew in the Melbourne and Sydney offices, respectively.

Curwoods Lawyers’ team is based in Sydney and split into six sub-groups each led by a partner. Kiley Hodges – who sits in Scott Kennedy’s construction and engineering team and heads the professional risk group – is representing a global insurer in investigations and related claims arising from a number of accidental deaths at a leisure destination, and Andrew Spearritt acted for a claimant seeking compensation with respect to dust disease. Andrew Gorman’s compulsory third party motor vehicle team – especially Ian Jones – handled insurance fraud and ‘blameless accident’ matters, while Peter Ford led the advice on a complex multi-party personal injury claim. The firm maintained its position on the QBE, IAG and Transport for NSW panels. Francesca Menniti leads the medical malpractice offering, which acts for clients such as the NSW Ministry of Health.

Rhett Slocombe’s insurance team at Hall & Wilcox recently welcomed Paul Baxter and the ‘approachable, experienced and practical’ Drew Castley from DLA Piper in the new Brisbane office, and David Short joined from Meridian Lawyers in Sydney. Along with acting for insurers in class actions and personal injury claims arising from bush fires and a wide array of accidents, the team has developed strong expertise in professional indemnity matters, as shown by Melbourne partner Matt McDonald’s work on coverage disputes. Other work included representing an insurer in a catastrophic brain injury claim following a motor vehicle accident, and the successful handling of a litigated negligence claim by Andrew Lyle – who is also based in Melbourne – on behalf of a broker. Clients also recommend special counsel Leigh Parker in the Sydney office and the Brisbane-based senior associate Emma Baker.

Henry Davis Yorkoffers a superior level of service providing appropriate advice with strong industry knowledge’, and head of commercial disputes Rebecca Whittle has ‘built a very strong team with a real strength in contentious insurance matters’. It defends WR Berkeley and Berkeley Insurance in relation to various policy forms. In Canberra, Melanie McKean joined the team from HWL Ebsworth and added her expertise in investigations and reviews to the firm’s offering. In other highlights, the team acted for an insurer in connection with a privacy investigation arising from a high-profile data breach case, and advised a real estate developer with respect to the potential insurance liabilities associated with a development in Sydney. Louise Cantrill left to join Mills Oakley. Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Jackson McDonald’s Stefan Sudweeks – who ‘has an exceptional grasp of the inner workings of legal issues’ and is ‘an absolute pleasure to work with’ – and Alex Lustig head the insurance offering with particularly strong expertise in insurance matters surrounding the Western Australian industrial market, namely oil and gas and mining. A multinational iron ore and machinery manufacturer engaged the practice to defend a personal injury claim, and Fiona Dempster represented the Insurance Commission for Western Australia in a personal injury claim arising from a motor vehicle accident. In other highlights, JC van der Walt handled professional indemnity claims and class actions on behalf of senior executives and insurers. Tim Mason retired from the partnership.

Boutique insurance firm Meridian Lawyers is spread across its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle offices and led by managing partner Paul Baker in Sydney. With a particular strength in healthcare insurance law, Baker’s group also regularly defends professional indemnity claims in other sectors as shown by Robert Minc’s defence of accountants in a claim pertaining to their advice on a client’s trust structure in purchasing property. Brisbane-based Dennis Cronin is representing an engineering company accused of causing significant damages to a neighbouring building through deep excavation and faulty retaining wall design; also based in Sydney, Rob Crittenden was instructed by an insurer to handle numerous product liability claims brought against a manufacturer with regards to alleged faults in the design of its hearing aid devices. The name to note in Newcastle is Marianne Nicolle.

At Mills Oakley Lawyers, Michael Down’s team was recently bolstered by the arrival of David McKenna from Sparke Helmore Lawyers in Perth, and Stuart Eustice and David Slatyer from Gadens Lawyers in Melbourne and Brisbane respectively. The practice is routinely engaged by public authorities and acts for a client roster including names such as Statewide Mutual, Suncorp and The Beazley Group. Down represented a public authority in its defence of a Civil Procedure Act class action suit arising from a fire which originated on council property and spread to surrounding areas, and senior associate Elizabeth Nash assisted the team in a personal injury case questioning the care owed by a grandparent where a child is catastrophically injured while in their care. Senior associate Fiona McGinley and Daren Curry are based in Sydney and are also noteworthy names.

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