Geoffrey Hancy - Barrister

Cases // Professional Liability

Professionals and trades are susceptible to claims by dissatisfied clients. Geoff has advised and defended doctors, nurses, hospitals, ambulance officers, dentist, accountants, auditors, directors, lawyers, financial adviser, engineers, builder, real estate agents, and local government authorities. He has also acted for plaintiffs against doctors and other professionals.

2022
[2022] WASCA 61
QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited v BB

Claim by school against three liability insurers, QBE, IAG, and Berkshire Hathaway, for liability for damages payable to former student for injury from sexual abuse by teacher in 1988.   Indemnity disputed by QBE on ground school failed to comply with “reasonable precautions” condition.  QBE failed at trial and on appeal.  IAG, client was successful in opposing QBE’s appeal.

[2022] WASCA 57
Chester v WA Country Health Service

Liability of hospital for alleged negligence.  Appeal from a decision that the defendant hospital was not liable to pay damages to a patient with a shoulder dislocation who was not referred for advice from an orthopaedic surgeon. Trial judge held that he was not satisfied that early referral would have made any difference to the outcome.  Different opinions expressed by orthopaedic surgeon expert witnesses on conservative or surgical treatment and nature of surgery and outcomes.  No express findings on duty and breach of duty.  Appeal allowed on ground that trial judge gave inadequate reasons for his decision. Retrial ordered. Hospital client was not successful

[2021] WADC 101
Smith v High Energy Service Pty Ltd

Catastrophic injury. Liability of electrical contractor with high voltage expertise. Plaintiff suffered severe burn injuries from an explosion of the contents of a switch gear tank in an electrical substation in a shopping centre. The tank contained oil and high voltage conductors.  Two other men were severely burnt and did not survive. The plaintiff sued his employer, an electrical contractor who was present and also severely injured, and the shopping centre owners. The claim succeeded against the employer only.  The electrical contractor client was successful

2021
[2021] WASC 300
McMurray v AIG Insurance Ltd [No 5]

Luxury home destroyed by fire. Claim against builder’s insurer settled before trial. Insurer of building relied on “Contract Works” exclusion. Insurer contended fire caused by spontaneous combustion of rags soaked in timber stain product left by painters during refurbishment (“renovations”) works. Competing theories on cause of fire. Evidence of an intruder. Cause not proven by insurer. Insurer liable. Admittedly negligent failure by insurance broker to obtain appropriate insurance. Broker not liable on ground that insurer liable and no loss by insureds. Client was successful

[2021] WADC 42
BB v Helena College

BB was a primary school student when she was sexually abused by a school teacher.  Her claim for damages against the school was settled and the trial proceeded as a claim by the school for indemnity against three liability insurers, QBE, IAG and Berkshire Hathaway.  The terms of settlement were recorded in a confidential deed.  IAG was the only insurer that admitted liability to indemnify but was willing to pay no more than half, supporting the school’s claim that QBE was also liable to indemnify.  All three insurers were found liable to indemnify the school for the full amount of the settlement. IAG, client was successful.

[2019] WASC 55
Ardizzone v Valentino Nominees Pty Ltd

Liability of vendor of land. Liability of real estate agent.  Breach of contract. Vendor’s warranty. General Conditions. Requirement made by governmental authority. Misleading conduct by non-disclosure.  Reasonable expectation of disclosure. Causation. Apportionment where one wrongdoer received a substantial benefit. Notice declaring an environmentally sensitive area. Threatened ecological community. ‘Determined’. At trial client was not successful

2016
[2016] WASCA 143
WFI Insurance Ltd v Verini

On appeal client was successful. At trial client was successful.  Owner builder client. House contents insurance. Liability of owner builder. Residential house balcony collapse. Breach of duty admitted. Exclusion for breach of duty as owner held inapplicable. Duty as builder. Insurer’s appeal dismissed

2014
[2014] WASC 422
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd v Underwriting Members of XL Syndicate 1209 at Lloyds for the 2004 and 2005 Underwriting Years of Account

Interlocutory decision. Mining company client was successful.  Directors and Officers Insurance.  Claim for indemnity for Defence Costs of proceedings brought by Australian and Securities Investments Commission and successfully defended.  Order for trial of liability issues before quantum.

[2012] WASC 185
Londsdale Investments Pty Ltd v OM (Manganese) Ltd [No 3]

At trial client was not successful. Process design engineers client. Design of manganese ore processing plant. Designed for dry free flowing ore. Mined ore was not free flowing. Process design engineers held liable for ‘rectification’ costs.

[2012] WADC 28
Banerjee v Shah

At trial client was not successful. Dentist client. Negligent prosthodontic treatment

Earlier Cases
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