Public & Products Liability
We have extensive experience in defending high profile and multi-plaintiff public and product liability claims, and GC is currently represented on the panels of over a dozen public and products liability insurers.
We handle the whole range of public and products claims, from high volume minor claims to large high value disputes.
We appreciate that the majority of these matters ought to be capable of early resolution and our focus is to ensure that occurs where possible.
When managing high profile, multi-plaintiff claims, we develop claims protocols and use issues conferences to contain claimant expectations and to reach settlement. We consult closely with insureds to manage adverse publicity and ensure reputations are protected. We focus on resolving claims in a timely, cost effective manner, understanding that this is the best way to ensure the needs of both the insurer (by containing costs) and insured (preserving reputation) are met.
While we are unable to publicise details about our unreported and settled claims, our team has successfully defended and managed claims against a range of defendants as diverse as domestic occupiers, landlords or rental / holiday accommodation, property management agencies, restaurateurs, hoteliers, shopping centre operators, cleaning contractors, shop owners, security companies, building contractors, and mandatory detention centre operators.
We also have extensive experience in dealing with recovery actions issued by Workers’ Compensation authorities and the various and complex issues which are often associated with those matters - particularly in multi-defendant actions in industrial or construction settings.
We provide a concise and prompt service - advising early about indemnity, liability, reserving and claims strategy. We strive to resolve issues of contribution early, wherever possible. We identify where the early use of commercial offers is appropriate to put a claimant at risk as to costs. We optimise outcomes by using strategies like offers, mediations, face-to-face "issues" conferences (to narrow issues in dispute) and informal settlement conferences to shorten the life of claims. We make full use of the cross liability protocol.
We are driven to resolve all claims efficiently and on the best possible terms to minimise the overall costs paid.
We are on the panels of four of the country’s largest general insurers providing advice on all aspects of domestic insurance including household insurance, motor, personal accident and liability with an emphasis on policy interpretation and coverage.
We act in first and third party claims as well as subrogated recoveries.
We provide prompt, cost effective and practical advice to assist insurers achieve speedy commercial resolutions of matters that, while often small for the insurers, are of significant concern and importance to the policy holders.
We are experienced in advising insurers about complaints to FOS and on disputes involving the Insurance Industry Code of Practice.
Contract Works / ISR
Claims against insureds and insurers in relation to contract works often initially appear to be extremely complicated, sometimes presenting as intransigent disputes, which can be difficult to settle.
At Gilchrist Connell, our expertise enables us to:
• clearly define what is in dispute;
• identify and obtain evidence in relation to that dispute; and
• manage, through alternative dispute resolution processes, the narrowing of issues.
This approach is most effective in limiting the claimant’s costs and defence costs, and in obtaining early and value-for-money resolutions. When confronted by a first party claim by an insured under an Industrial Special Risks policy, Gilchrist Connell always develop strategies to immediately investigate the insured’s alleged losses, leaving aside any policy coverage issues, and to engage the insured in open discussion about mitigation of its losses. We can call on a wide range of experts in a variety of fields to assist in identifying and resolving technical issues. By using these methods, the insured’s concerns are satisfactorily addressed, and the insurer avoids any suggestion of unreasonable delay as well as any claim by an insured for damages under the principles in Brescia v QBE. We are also vigilant about collecting information that will maximize the potential for successful recovery proceedings.
Life / TPD
We are currently on the claims panels of two life / TPD insurers and conduct claims work for a major domestic underwriter in the settling of personal accident (injury and death) claims.
Our principals have acted in over 50 litigated life TPD, trauma and salary continuance claims.
We have acted in a number of significant fraud cases, and are aware of the thresholds which insurers face in these matters. We have acted in matters not just involving fraudulent claims or fraudulent nondisclosure, but also forged documents.
When complex medical issues arise, we seek the early involvement of specialists so as to properly identify and enunciate the issues in dispute. For example, we acted for an insurer in a claim by a medical practitioner involving an alleged “malignancy” which involved complex medical issues and oncological evidence.
We have also acted in a multi-million dollar claim involving the asserted incapacity of a director of a public company and his ability to claim benefits under an “own occupation” wording.
Gilchrist Connell acts for the recovery divisions of several major insurers and we have over 20 years experience in recovery actions, large and small. We realise that returns to the insurer are paramount and have developed a highly cost effective fee structure to achieve this.
We have highly experienced paralegals who are responsible for handing volume recovery portfolios, especially related to motor vehicle property claims. We are well versed in the appropriate Court procedures in NSW and SA and able to deliver prompt and realistically priced services to ensure that the smaller claims still deliver a real return to the insurer. Depending on the volume of instructions, these matters can either be run on hourly rate or fixed fee arrangements. Unlike most mercantile agents, we can also offer specialist experienced lawyers to provide strategic input into the more complicated matters where necessary.
Apart from the high volume area of motor vehicle recoveries, we also run major recovery actions - usually following the settlement of first party contract works or ISR claims. Our experience in these claims extends to multi-million dollar product liability and construction / engineering claims. In any first party claim of that nature, we guide the matter to maximise the potential for any subrogated recovery action which may be available against a third party following the settlement of the first party claim.
We have acted in a number of multi-party actions in large recovery matters and have experience in cost sharing arrangements and case management protocols necessary for the management of claims involving insured and uninsured losses.
Gilchrist Connell is primarily focused upon our insurer clients’ rights and obligations under their policy documents. We recognise that the contractual arrangements between an insurer and its insureds are paramount and we provide prompt, accurate and commercial advice to insurers about policy coverage with every instruction we receive.
The services we provide include advising about the operation of insuring clauses, exclusions, conditions and extensions. Our advice is always given in the context of the statutory framework of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984.
We are always prompt to identify and recommend strategies where a reservation of rights should be put in place, or when coverage should be declined. These strategies include providing appropriate information to the insured about the reservation of rights or declinature to avoid a dispute with an insured about coverage.
Some examples of our policy coverage work has been in advising:
• professional indemnity top-up insurers on coverage to solicitors where there have been alleged
fraudulent non-disclosures before the inception of the policy;
• insurers of all types of professionals including solicitors, accountants and mortgage brokers where
there has been alleged dishonesty by the insured;
• insurers of manufacturers where some but not all parts of a claim made against the insured are covered
by the insuring clause of the policy, and providing practical advice about how to manage the defence of
the claim against the insured whilst limiting the insurer’s exposure for a claim payment and defence
• insurers where an insured is facing a claim under a contractually assumed risk which is not otherwise
covered by the policy, and managing the defence of a claim where it includes insured and uninsured
• liability insurers about exclusions for workers’ compensation claims, and the dichotomy between
work injury liabilities and third party liabilities;
• insurers about contractual and statutory non-disclosure and its effects;
• Life / TPD insurers on their rights with respect to non-disclosures, including fraudulent non-
disclosures, subject to the limitations within the Insurance Contracts Act 1984; and
• insurers and insureds about pursuit of recoveries when some part of the amount sought to be recovered
is an uninsured loss.