sydney Office P: +61 2 8273 9812

Mark Hughes

Special Counsel


About Mark

Mark’s principal practice is in General Liability and he has over 15 years experience specialising in complex, non-injury liability claims with a focus on 3rd party property damage disputes, including large motor damage claims, and coverage issues.

Due to his extensive market knowledge across industries including agriculture, construction, transport and mining as well as servicing NSW Government agencies, Mark is adept at getting to the heart of matters to provide astute, commercially focussed advice to assist his clients. 

While his focus is on disputes and litigated matters, Mark has a successful track record in the use of IDR procedures and has earned a reputation for his collaborative approach to working with clients, colleagues and insured parties towards early resolution of disputes.

Areas of Expertise

  • Property damage (3rd party)
  • Professional indemnity
  • Trade & Transport
  • Coverage (stand alone)
  • Subrogation & Recoveries

Industry Representation

  • Agriculture
  • Construction & Infrastructure
  • Energy & Mining
  • Property & Real Estate
  • Professionals & Business Solutions
  • Transport

Mark's Experience

  • Defending a mining services contractor against a claim made by the mine operator in a claim work more than $15 million arising from the destruction of a large mining excavator.  The case involved technical issues as to liability and apportionment and complex arguments as to quantification of the mining operators alleged losses.  Mark prepared the matter for trial and successful negotiated a settlement for a minimal settlement taking into account strong liability and quantum arguments, in circumstances where the co-defendant did not settle and continued to trial.  That defendant was successful meaning that the insured contractor would have been found solely liable, thereby effecting a very substantial saving to the Insurer.
  • Advising an Insurer on coverage issues and representing an Insured in relation to a large agricultural loss sustained due to negligent aerial spraying by the Insured’s contractor causing loss on a neighbouring cotton farm.  Mark co-ordinated investigations and negotiations such that neither the Insurer nor the Insured contributed to the resolution of the claim.
  • Defending proceedings against a firm of chartered accountants alleged to have given negligent taxation advice relating to the purchase and holding of taxable assets.  Mark identified and developed a key argument overlooked by the claimant involving the existence of trust in favour of a third party rendering the claim potentially valueless.  The claim was resolved by negotiation at the very early interlocutory stages, without admissions on the basis of a payment of an amount of less than 10% of the damages claimed.
  • Representing a project works insurer and owner of a mobile crane in a subrogated recovery action for losses caused when a large capacity mobile crane fell through a suspended cement slab due to the crane being improperly positioned.  Mark successfully negotiated a recovery of several millions of dollars representing more than 90% of the value of the claim and costs.
  • Advising a professional indemnity insurer on cover and resolution of a claim against engineering in relating to the alleged negligent design and construction of a runway at a remote airport servicing remote mines in Western Australia.  The claim involved assessment of causes of the failure of the runway surface and complex coverage issues arising from engineering advice.  In addition to the complex coverage issues, Mark provided advice to the Insurer on the resolution of the underlying liability claim and secured binding written agreement from the Insured on termination of the liability of Insurer upon payment of part of the claimed amounts.
  • Advising an Insurer in relation to coverage issues in respect of a claim for cover by an engineering firm arising from failure of oversized retaining walls and claims for consequential losses.  Mark coordinated provision of expert advice on causes arising from design and construction deficiencies and provided coverage advice to the Insurer resulting in a limitation of cover to minor consequential losses which fell within the Insured’s retention.
  • Acting for an Insurer in a litigated indemnity dispute involving allegations of misrepresentation and non disclosure complicated by cross claims between related insured parties where the Insurer client was joined as a party to the proceedings.  The claim arose from destruction of a large factory / warehouse facility and losses of more than $12 million.  Mark was able to negotiate a commercial resolution to the claim involving payment by the Insurer of substantially less than half the claimed damages in circumstances where the possibility of a finding of full liability was a distinct possibility.
  • Representing a fleet transport Insurer seeking recovery from owners of cattle that strayed onto a rural highway causing substantial damage to a freight truck and business interruption losses.  Mark drove the recovery action where proof of ownership of the cattle was in dispute and assessment of damages was complex, obtaining a recovery of 100% of the loss of the insured vehicle and 90% of the insured’s business interruption losses.

     

  • Representing an insured road pilot in defence of a claim for damage incurred in a collision between 2 prime movers including the piloted truck.  Mark was able to navigate the contentious factual assertions between the several parties involved, including the competing version from each driver.  He successfully negotiated a resolution involving commercial settlement upon payment of a small fraction of the claim in circumstances where the Insured pilot otherwise faced liability exposure of substantially more than 50%.
  • Advising and representing an Insurer in relation to a combined first party / third party claim arising from the total loss of a vessel at mooring immediately after re-launch.  The claimant boat owner and the Insured, who were related, both brought proceedings.  Mark provided coverage advice addressing complicated and contentious ownership and work arrangements addressing the application of exclusions that capped the potential liability of the Insurer.  After commencement of proceedings the matter was resolved on substantially the same terms as identified upon investigations and initial advice to the Insurer.

Professional Affiliations

  • Australia Insurance Law Association
  • Australian Professional Indemnity Group
  • Commercial Law Association
  • Law Society of NSW
  • Claims Discussion Group