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Christine Westlake

Senior Associate

Melbourne

+61 3 8687 7322 0468 905 634

Christine has over ten years’ experience advising local and international insurers particularly in the areas of professional indemnity and directors’ and officers’ liability. She also advises insurers on a number of representative actions against company directors, professionals and trustees. 

EXPERIENCE & EXPERTISE

Before joining our professional indemnity team, Christine gained significant experience within the insurance sector while specialising in professional indemnity both the Sydney and Melbourne offices of another national insurance law firm.  Prior to that, she practised as a barrister in Ontario, Canada, where she was preferred counsel to the legal professional indemnity insurer for lawyers and as such, regularly appeared in various levels of courts advocating in defence of lawyers.

Christine has over ten years’ experience advising local and international insurers particularly in the areas of professional indemnity and directors’ and officers’ liability.  This has included acting for a range of professionals in professional indemnity claims, including directors and officers, solicitors, engineers, accountants, auditors, estate agents and building professionals.

Christine regularly provides advice in relation to litigation defence, external dispute resolution schemes, claims management, complex liability and coverage disputes, and strategic litigation management.  Christine also advises insurers in relation to representative actions against company directors, professionals and trustees.

Christine is highly regarded by clients for establishing a clear strategy from the outset and her strong advocacy skills enabling her to achieve practical solutions to meet clients’ goals.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Christine's major matters include:

Professional Indemnity
  • Acting for numerous lawyers (in Canada) solicitors (in Australia) in successfully defending a variety of claims ranging from negligent advice, conflicts of interest, and missed deadlines.
  • Acting for insurance brokers in defending claims brought against them, including acting for an insurance brokerage in defence of a complex class action which involved sixteen parties in the Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Acting for an electrical engineer in an Supreme Court of Victoria proceeding involving a large fire in a commercial complex
  • Acting for professionals in defence of claims brought against them to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) (previously known as the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)
  • Defending a range of professionals in disciplinary proceedings
  • Acting for estate agencies in defence of proceedings which range in allegations from misleading and deceptive conduct to negligence in relation to the carrying out of auctions.
Directors’ and Officers’ Liability
  • Advised a not-for-profit corporation in respect of alleged misappropriation of funds by officers
Commercial Litigation
  • Acted for a company in Federal Court proceedings which amounted effectively to a prosecution by the Director of Consumer Affairs under the Australian Consumer Law for breaches of product safety, which carried a potential penalty of millions of dollars
  • Acted for a company in connection with a coronial inquiry which arose from an alleged product malfunction, and involving investigations by its regulatory body and product liability considerations
Reported Decisions
  • Acting as counsel, successfully defended a lawyer from a negligence claim in a 38 day trial in Ontario (see Century v. New World Eng. Corp., 2013 ONSC 2140 – Reasons for Decision)
  • Acting as counsel, successfully defended a lawyer in Ontario in a six day motion wherein the moving party sought personal costs against the lawyer in respect of the underlying litigation (see Giglio v. Peters, 2014 ONSC 2 – Reasons for Decision) and thereafter, obtaining a costs award in favour of the lawyer in the amount of $110,883.42 (see Giglio v. Peters, 2014 ONSC 1736 - Decision on Costs).

Recognition

Christine has been awarded the following Executive Appointments by the Ontario Bar Association:

  • Member-at-Large (Elected), Young Lawyers Division Section Executive (Central Region) 2004-2015, Ontario Bar Association
  • Member-at-Large (Elected, Labour and Employment Section Executive 2014-2015, Ontario Bar Association
  • Newsletter Editor, Labour and Employment Section Executive 2012-2014, Ontario Bar Association

Expertise

Qualifications

  • Certificate of Qualification, 2009, Federation of the Law Societies of Canada, National Committee of Accreditation
  • Bachelor of Laws, 2008, University of Sydney
  • Walter Reid Memorial Scholarship, 2006, University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), 2004, Queens University, Ontario

Memberships

  • Law Institute of Victoria
  • Australasian Professional Indemnity Group
  • Women in Insurance
  • Law Society of Ontario
  • Ontario Bar Association