find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Liable, but not covered

Liable, but not covered

THE LACK of an insurance policy to protect corporate counsel from personal liability claims has prompted discussions between the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and broker Marsh…

THE LACK of an insurance policy to protect corporate counsel from personal liability claims has prompted discussions between the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and broker Marsh Australia.

Speaking at ACLA’s recent national conference in Melbourne, Justin Meyer, a senior executive in financial and professional risks at Marsh, said there had been “positive discussions” with ACLA on a tailored product for in-house counsel.

Further information would not be available until early next year, however and in the meantime there was very little available on the insurance market for individual in-house counsel. “Only through special negotiations by your company with global insurers would any protection be possible,” Meyer said.

The lack of products could largely be explained by the fact that it was not compulsory for in-house lawyers to have professional indemnity insurance. Meyer said there were international insurers with local offices that would provide cover for professional liabilities for in-house counsel.

But if lawyers were considering one of those options, it was important to test whether the policy covered the policy-holder for activities inherent in the actual profession of being a lawyer.

Within corporations, directors and officers liability insurance covered most executives. However, it was not suitable for those in legal roles as policies generally only covered activities of a “normal management nature” and specifically excluded professional activities, Meyer said.

Head of legal services at Bendigo Bank, Dion Gooderham, said personal liability was becoming a bigger issue for the in-house fraternity. Recent circumstances, such as the collapse of HIH and Enron, had placed greater focus on corporate governance and the role of in-house counsel.

“In the past we have ducked under the radar in terms of corporate scandals and actions, but I suspect that is changing,” he told delegates.

“Corporate governance is very much higher on the agenda. I am sure that some of you have benefited from that because you are being pushed up the foodchain … but there are also risks to face.”

What struck fear into the hearts of all legal practitioners was the possibility of being named personally as a defendant in an action, or having a claim made against them, Gooderham said. Although he could not source any Australian cases where an in-house counsel had been named as a defendant, it was a scenario that was occurring in the US.

One explanation for that was that the concept of vicarious liability was not as well entrenched in US employment law as it was here. Gooderham said there had been cases where not only the in-house lawyers had been sued but the external lawyers and auditors had also been named in the actions.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Liable, but not covered
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Queensland University of Technology, ruby milestone
Queensland law school reaches ruby milestone
Celebrating 40 years since establishing a law course in 1977, the Queensland University of Technolog...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...