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Providing legal services to the insurance industry is about more than just giving the best advice. It requires deep industry understanding, an appreciation of issues and challenges facing insurers and the ability to adapt to changing client needs.
Minter Ellison’s insurance practice is one of the largest in Australia and truly national. Our knowledge of the insurance industry is second to none and it enables us to tailor advice that focuses on the client and their business objectives. Minter Ellison has been awarded ANZIIF Law Firm of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time – 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Furthermore in October 2012 and 2013, Minter Ellison was awarded 'Insurance Law Firm of the Year' at the Asia-Pacific Banking & Finance annual Insurance Awards.
We are the only top tier law firm in Australia to maintain a comprehensive ‘front end’ practice (policy wording/drafting and advice, corporate advisory, reinsurance, agency agreements) and ‘back end’ claims practice (including professional indemnity, D&O, product liability, asbestos, life, marine, aviation, self insureds, government and industrial special risks). We also have significant expertise defending litigation (including class actions) on complex insurance issues.
We have strong professional links with peak industry bodies and consistently support associations through attendance, presentations, sponsorship and involvement in working groups. Our industry involvement assists us to advise clients effectively on the impact of legislative and regulatory changes.
Acting for IT consultants engaged to project manage the implementation of a trading exchange against allegations of misleading or deceptive conduct and breach of contract. The plaintiff alleges that by reason of our client’s breaches, it has incurred substantial extra costs and has been delayed in obtaining a market licence from ASIC, causing it to suffer significant financial losses. The matter is particularly high profile as it affects a potential new operator of a derivatives exchange in Australia.
Acting for Wesfarmers Insurance Group on its launch of KMART Tyre & Auto Services Insurance. Our work involved drafting and finalising all marketing and legal documents associated with the launch.
Advising the New South Wales Government (NSW Treasury) on the refinancing of Port Botany and Port Kembla in NSW. The project is unique, involving the contemporaneous refinancing and long term lease of two major Australian ports. Our role includes extensive legal analysis of the existing assets and businesses and the regulatory landscape; recommending a transaction structure; drafting special transaction legislation; asset restructuring; preparing extensive interrelated transaction documents; tender process and negotiations; and implementation under legal project management. The project is complex and very significant for NSW.
Acted in establishing MLC’s ‘Best Doctors Program’, a program designed to give insurers and their families access to a ‘second opinion’ from the world's leading medical experts. Strategically important for MLC and a key differentiator for the company, the program (which won an industry award for innovation) has been extended to other areas of MLC’s business because of its success. Our role included clearing the various legal hurdles, given the program needed to comply with a plethora of legislation, including the Private Health Insurance Act, Life Insurance Act, superannuation legislation and Trade Practices Act. We also drafted and novated the contract between MLC and the international provider.
Acted for Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) on the proposed $1.85 billion acquisition of the Australian and New Zealand insurance underwriting businesses of Wesfarmers Limited, the number 1 and number 5 general insurers in Australia respectively. ACCC approval has been granted after close analysis but without the ACCC releasing a Statement of Issues. Acquiring an insurance group of companies out of a major retail group not only raises issues of inherited compliance risk, but also the potential risk of joint and several liability for consolidated tax group obligations of the wider group. This necessitated due diligence of past returns, existing income tax and GST sharing agreements and processes for clear exit, in addition to a detailed review of the tax compliance and risk management history of the target entities, as well as negotiating comprehensive tax warranties and indemnity as part of the share sale documentation.
Advised on claims in the marine area including acting for the joint venture between SingTel Optus and Southern Cross against owners of a cargo ship responsible for $6m damage to a submarine cable, including the arrest of the ship.
Acting for a publicly listed general insurance company in defending a A$33m claim against a policyholder arising from alleged loss of existing rights of use for a small island off the coast of NSW.
Acted for an insurance broker in a High Court Appeal. When the client defaulted on the loan, the funder sued the client’s insurance broker for not disclosing that there was inadequate security for the loan. The issues in dispute were whether there was a misrepresentation (and whether an ambiguous statement can be misleading) and if so whether there was reliance. The High Court unanimously upheld our appeal.
Acting for an insurer of a major financial institution and its pool of excess layer re-insurers, on insurance issues arising from claims lodged against the financial institution by 3000+ New Zealand investors whose investments were allegedly affected by the GFC. This has involved analysis of complex policy interpretation issues.