Property & Industrial Special Risk

When it comes to the law, finely woven details count. This is particularly true in the complex nature of the areas of Property Damage and Industrial Special Risk (ISR). The specific nature of this area requires advisors who bring a different perspective to the table.

Within our broader insurance team lies a small group of lawyers with extensive experience advising in this highly specialised area. Our Property Damage and ISR team handles all manner of building and construction projects, defending major property damage losses arising out of contract works.  Their successes include:

Property Damage

  • Acted in a $60 million construction claim made by an insured against the underwriters for declining indemnity under a Construction All Risks (CAR) Policy following the inundation by water of a coal dump station
  • Acted for an insurer in the investigation of a gas explosion in a high-rise residential/ commercial building at Bondi Junction. A major claim by the building owners and 280 third party claims were managed by a claims system and protocols put in place by Curwoods which avoided costly and protracted litigation
  • Acted for an insurer in relation to a defective swimming enclosure in Port Lincoln, South Australia which incorporated defective aluminium. The issue to be determined in relation to indemnity causation and loss was whether the removal and replacement of the aluminium constituted property damage. The claim was litigated with a successful outcome for the insurer of the plaintiff discounting the claim. The claim also resulted in media and political attention which was also proactively managed.

Industrial Special Risk

  • Acted in a $40 million dispute regarding the defective design and construction of a large commercial waste processing facility in Western Australia. The case involved seven parties, multiple claims and cross-claims, and legal questions in which no Australian authority exists, with proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria for over four years. Throughout the proceedings, we ran a very thorough and proactive defence of the claim and were successful on a number of interlocutory disputes, with costs orders. The defence adopted on behalf of our client allowed the claim to be resolved on highly favourable terms at the commencement of a nine week trial, where the plaintiffs had no option but to accept a commercial settlement well below the total quantum of its claim
  • Acted for an insurer in defence of a claim for indemnity under Machinery Policy for damage in a cement mill during routine maintenance. A claim was made on the basis of ‘sudden and unforeseen damage’, together with business interruption losses of approximately $2.8 million. Extensive metallurgical evidence determined the damage had started, and continued to occur during and following the relevant policy period, and therefore, the claim was not for damage ‘during the period of insurance’ as required to trigger the cover. The claim was successfully declined on this basis
  • Acted for an insurer with respect to a mobile crane collapse at a large construction site. Advised the client on indemnity claims under a Contract Works Policy and successfully recovered a significant amount with respect to both the Insured and uninsured losses. The claim involved consideration of detailed engineering evidence
  • Provided advice on a claim for vibration damage to a coal processing plant under a Contract Works Policy. The key issue was the application of an exclusion for defects (LEG 2/95), where extensive expert evidence determined the damage was caused by excessive vibration associated with the design of the plant, and the repair works involved revisions to the design and strengthening works. Following a comprehensive review of the expert material and international case law on the application of LEG 2 (where there is no Australian authority), we determined the claim came within the defects exclusion, and insurers were not liable to pay for the damage and repairs.

Our senior team members include:

Yasmin Bell

Senior Associate
B Science (Forensic) (University of Newcastle) 2001, LLB (University of Newcastle) 2004

Julie Bowker

Senior Associate
Practical Legal Training (College of Law, Sydney) 2014 / Diploma in Law (University of Sydney) 2014 / Diploma in Law (College of Law, Chester, UK) 1990 / BSc (Hons) (Marine Biology and Applied Zoology) (Bangor University, North Wales, UK) 1988

Paul Garnon

Partner
B.Com (Finance) (University of NSW) 1991 / LLB (University of NSW) 1991

Kiley Hodges

Partner
BA (University of New England) 1998 / LLB (Hons) (University of New England) 1998

Heidi Hopkins

Senior Associate
Bachelor of Laws (Macquarie University) 2007 / Bachelor of Arts (Macquarie University) 2007 / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, College of Law 2008

Craig Hyde

Special Counsel
LLB (Hons) (University of Otago) 1990

Scott Kennedy

Managing Partner
Dip Law (LPAB) 1995

Sally Morshead

Senior Associate
LLB (Bond University) 2005

Brian Trist

Special Counsel
Dip Law (LPAB) 1998

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