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Environmental Liability

Environmental liability insurance used to be required only by particularly polluting industries, such as mining, chemical plants and waste management companies. However, governments in Australasia and globally have widened the scope of responsibility for environmental damage and pollution, and many businesses and landowners are now liable for the costs of clean-up and are at risk of prosecution.

Our team regularly advises environmental insurers on a range of claims under pollution liability policies – those held by landowners, business operators and contractors. This includes compliance, incident management, conducting investigations, responding to environmental enforcement actions and managing corporate and executive officer liabilities.

We work with an established group of environmental experts who understand the insurance issues and the commercial drivers of insurers and their customers, especially when high-profile incidents threaten reputations.

Some of our varied environmental experience includes:

$1 million+ clean-up bill from chemical spill in QLD

Representing an insurer in relation to a claim in excess of $1 million for clean-up costs arising from a chemical spill after a train derailment in Queensland. This included advice relating to coverage, quantum, and the insured’s liability. We were able to resolve the claim quickly and within the reserve.

Claim before the Contaminated Sites Committee in WA

Representing an insurer in respect of coverage for an environmental clean-up costs claim brought against a service station where fuel had escaped from an underground storage tank. This included defending the claim before the Contaminated Sites Committee and in other civil proceedings.

Claim and recovery action from one of the largest fuel spills in NSW

Representing an environmental insurer in relation to a clean-up costs claim following one of the largest fuel spills in NSW. We also acted for the insurer in the successful recovery against the maintenance contractor.

Defending NZ Resource Management Act prosecutions

Defending numerous primary producers in NZ in prosecutions under the Resource Management Act 1991 for activities such as discharging contaminates. In many cases we minimised our clients’ legal exposure and reduced penalties.

 Landowners and businesses are facing a new spectrum of environmental risks and exposures, but there is no industry standard of coverage in environmental insurance policies. Insurers are developing new products to provide cover where traditional liability policies do not. Understanding what coverage is available and managing complex environmental claims, requires genuine expertise that you can only find in a team of highly skilled lawyers with one focus – insurance law.