Menu Search through site content What are you looking for?
Menu

Nicole Wearne

Partner

People

Nicole Wearne

Nicole Wearne

Partner

People

Nicole Wearne

Nicole Wearne

Partner

Full Profile

Over the past 10 years Nicole has acted in defence of consumer class actions and major torts. She has also acted as coverage counsel in securities class actions, consumer class actions and regulatory investigations and prosecutions. Nicole provides regulatory, risk and governance advice to leading Australian insurers and is a trusted adviser. Nicole frequently acts in a project management role on large contentious disputes and is known for her no nonsense and practical approach to litigation.

Nicole has acted for insurers and as defence counsel in a number of high profile decisions including before the High Court of Australia, Full Federal Court and appellate courts in NSW and Victoria.

Nicole advises and acts for Australian insurers, London market underwriters and reinsurers, Commonwealth and State government departments and agencies and third party claims administrators. Nicole also advises contractors on contract works, Alliance and professional indemnity policy issues.

Nicole has a strong practice in construction litigation and financial institutions litigation. She has been involved in catastrophic liability and significant property damage claims, including recovery actions. In addition to acting for contractors in disputes with principals she acts in defence of professionals including architects, building surveyors, building inspectors, land surveyors, valuers, estate agents, landscape architects, structural, geotechnical and civil engineers, financial advisers, financial licensees, insurance agents, insurance brokers, barristers, solicitors, life agents, town planners, accountants and tax agents.

Nicole is recognised as a leading practitioner for Insurance by Chambers & Partners, Legal 500 and Best Lawyers. She is also listed as a leading Professional Indemnity Lawyer – Victoria 2020 by Doyle's Guide and is recommended by Legal 500 for Litigation.

Experience
  • Royal Commissions & Inquiries: Acting for leading life insurer representing its interests during the Financial Services Royal Commission headed by Commissioner Hayne.

  • Class Action: Acting for life insurer in defence of representative proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia brought by consumers who purchased credit insurance and alleged its sale amounted to unconscionable conduct. The action was one of the first proceedings to be filed after the Royal Commission Report into Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services was handed down. The claim involved unique allegations of unconscionable conduct against a manufacturer of credit insurance products and is continuing. Nicole leads the team of defence counsel and has driven the strategy and negotiations which have resulted in an excellent resolution which is currently subject to court approval.

  • Coverage: Acting for the insurer in the seminal High Court of Australia authority on the duty of utmost good faith. The claim involved conduct by the insured in settling claims in circumstances where indemnity was reserved but where the insurer had identified to the insured defences available to it. Ultimately the High Court of Australia, by majority decision, found in favour of Nicole's client and delivered its considered analysis of the duty of utmost good faith.

  • Regulatory: Acting for insurers in responding to ASIC Notices for production of records including managing a team of lawyers, identifying and preparing responses to ASIC and providing advice to the insurer client.

  • Defence: Acting as joint lead partner in defence of the State of Victoria in the Black Saturday Bushfire class actions. Nicole was responsible for managing a team of up to 40 Counsel and 30 lawyers in defending the largest major tort class action proceedings in the Victorian history. The Kilmore Black Saturday proceeding ultimately proceeded to a full trial before resolving shortly before judgement was delivered. Her role required her to provide substantive advice to the State, its insurers and reinsurers, and engage with various government and statutory authority stakeholders. She was particularly responsible for defence of the duty to warn allegations and preparation of the loss analysis for personal injury claimants. Nicole was intimately involved in the ultimate resolution of each class including the detailed settlement agreements and court approval process.

  • Inquiry: Representing a manager in a section 19 examination by ASIC. ASIC was investigating the manager's alleged breach of various Corporations Act provisions following the insolvency of a managed fund. The reputational risk for the client was significant. Prior to the examination by ASIC, oral submissions were made to the Commission which ultimately resulted in the ASIC agreeing not to proceed with the examination.

  • Coronial Inquiry: Representing a private hospital in the coronial investigation into the death of an elderly patient who died following complications of knee replacement surgery. Nicole and her team engaged with the coroner, prepared witness statements and produced documents for the coroner's brief.

Go to next section

Expertise

Nicole has practised exclusively as a contentious defence and insurance coverage lawyer for more than 25 years. She specialises in professional indemnity, financial lines and directors and officers' insurers and acts in defence and coverage disputes.

Offices & Regions covered