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Professional Liability – Specialist Areas

Accountants + Lawyers

As the type of services that accounting and legal firms provide expands, their risk profile can move outside the coverage areas of their traditional professional indemnity policies. Understanding the complexities of professional advice, the types of Professional Liability claims that may ensue, and existing commercial relationships is essential.

Whether a claim involves an allegation of professional negligence in advising an ASX-listed company or an individual client, we have particular expertise in managing claims against accountants and lawyers.

We have advised insurers and their insured clients in many hundred professional indemnity cases – those involving global and national professional services firms, small-mid urban and rural firms, and sole practitioners. We also work with insurers and brokers on policy wording and coverage issues so that their knowledge and products match the growing capabilities and breadth of practice of modern accounting and legal firms.

Financial Planners + Stockbrokers

If there is one profession that has been in the firing line of public, political and regulatory criticism, it is that of financial planning and stockbroking.

We understand the competitive environment in which financial planners and stockbrokers work, and the increased scrutiny that they are under. Providing advice where investors’ risk appetite may not elicit the desired financial outcome can be difficult and fraught with misinterpretation.

We’ve defended claims against national financial planning and stockbroking firms, as well as small firms and individual professionals. We work with insurers and their insured clients to achieve fast and definitive settlement of claims, sensitive to possible reputational damage.

IT Professionals

As all businesses become more dependent on technology to provide essential business services, information technology professionals have become critical to the functioning of our economy. From data collection and analysis to e-commerce, tech security to healthcare, the systems and advice that technology professionals provide make them vulnerable to traditional risks of their products being fit for business purposes, and new cyber threats.

Policy wording and coverage in this area is constantly changing. We work with insurers to help them craft policies that will cover future risk areas. When a professional indemnity claim occurs, our team works swiftly with insurers, technology companies and individual professionals to map out the options and resolve claims swiftly and sensibly.

In a fast-changing industry, you can rely on Wotton + Kearney’s team to be on top of how new developments fit within existing insurance law and provide practical and commercial claims management advice.

Construction Professionals

Whether a mechanical failure or an on-site accident, when things go wrong in the building and construction sector, fingers are pointed first at those who recommended, installed or maintained equipment and infrastructure.

Professional liability claims against architects, surveyors and other construction professionals are usually not clear-cut. They often involve complex contractor and sub-contractor relationships, product liability issues, dual and overlapping insurance, and co-contribution. OH&S and EPL concerns are common and subrogated recovery claims are also often waiting to be pursued.

When a claim is made against a firm or individual in the construction sector, insurers and their insured clients come to Wotton + Kearney. Our experienced Construction PI team is adept at unpicking complex events and have significant experience advising on significant, reputation-damaging and potentially catastrophic claims across the industry.

Valuers, Real Estate + Strata

No matter what cycle the property market is in, those professionals providing valuations and advice to property owners and investors are balancing their present property knowledge with an expectation of the future real estate market. When that goes wrong, PI claims can ensue.

Our team is experienced in acting for insurers and their insured property professionals in all types of real estate-related PI claims. From valuations that prove inaccurate, through to property management issues, we have advised on a broad range of PI claims in the sector, helping national and multi-national agents as well as sole practitioners. We also work with insurers to draft policy and coverage wording.

Whether you have a simple claim that you need to resolve quickly and efficiently, or a complex matter involving many parties and contractual relationships, we provide insurers and their insured clients with deep industry expertise matched with pragmatic and reasoned advice.

Defamation Claims

When a PI policy is invoked on an allegation of defamation, the insured individual or company executive often reacts with confusion, defensiveness and emotion, all in equal measure.

Defamation is a class of action that is particularly personal, both for the alleged perpetrator and the victim, and lawyers managing these claims need to demonstrate empathy and have a cool head to resolve claims efficiently and appropriately.

We have defended defamation claims against corporations, firms and individuals across many different sectors. From caricatures published in the national media to advertisements dropped in letterboxes, we’ve seen defamation cases originate from a wide range of media, some clear cut, and some complex and oblique. Whether the claim is from deliberate or unintentional statement or portrayal, we work with you to manage expectations, find swift resolutions, draft apologies and negotiate settlements.

Other Professionals

From arborists and actors to viniculturists and veterinarians, we have provided advice to a broad range of professionals and their insurers when they have been faced with professional liability claims and actions for financial loss.

As the services sector becomes more professionalised and more integrated, we advise insurers and brokers on developing policies that will provide appropriate coverage for professionals working in the most diverse circumstances.

Our lawyers are particularly attuned to working with individuals unfamiliar with the insurance and legal process, and for whom a claim can be catastrophic to their business. And when a claim occurs, we work alongside the insured professional to develop the best strategy for resolution, ensure that they understand the process to get there, and the likelihood of success.

Disciplinary proceedings

When licensed professional faces disciplinary proceedings before their professional bodies, we understand that it is not just reputations at stake, but often livelihoods. It’s important in these cases to move swiftly to gather the facts, form a clear strategy, mitigate and resolve.

We have provided advice to insurers and their insured professionals in disciplinary proceedings following claims of professional misconduct, professional negligence, financial misappropriation, and wrongful advice. We act in suspension and expulsion proceedings following convictions, and where there are allegations of breaches of codes of practice or ethics.

Experienced in appearing before state and national professional bodies governing medical practitioners and healthcare workers, lawyers and accountants, financial services professionals and real estate agents, when you engage Wotton + Kearney you know that you have a dedicated team committed to defending your professional integrity.