Experience & Expertise
Admitted as a solicitor in 1982, Geoff commenced his legal career under the firm’s founding partner, Brian Agnew. He has worked exclusively in insurance law throughout his career and has demonstrated skills in organising and managing large and complex litigation.
His expertise spans professional indemnity, Directors & Officers, financial institutions, property and ISR and public and property liability. Geoff’s clients and competitors all acknowledge the ‘unrivalled claims litigation experience’ he has derived from a strong contentious practice acting for insurers and their insureds; his clients also describe him as an ‘excellent negotiator with an extensive knowledge of the law’.
Geoff's approach to insurance law work focuses on providing a considerably high standard of service and solid advice. He prides himself on his ability to deliver prompt but considered advice with an eye to obtaining practical and commercial solutions to the client’s problems. Negotiating outcomes is a particular feature of Geoff’s style, yet he has participated in some significant leading decisions in insurance law where the clients’ interests have dictated litigation be pursued.
Geoff has advised on multiple high profile insurance law matters, often involving complex issues and multiple parties. Early in his career, he advised the insurer of General Jones Pty Limited from trial in the Supreme Court of Tasmania through to hearing in the High Court of Australia on Burnie Port Authority v General Jones Pty Limited (1994) 179 CLR 520, which saw the 150 year old torts decision of Rylands v Fletcher (1868) LR 3 HL 330 overturned as law in Australia.
Using his expert knowledge of bloodstock policy matters, Geoff directed the successful defence of the Hong Kong Jockey Club in the High Court of Hong Kong in a case arising out of the death of a multimillion dollar racehorse due to the negligent riding by a jockey. He has also advised Lloyd’s and London market subscribers to bloodstock mortality and congenital infertility (and other) policies on coverage issues and potential recovery actions for more than 20 years.
In another precedent setting decision for the industry, Geoff successfully resisted the claim by the contractor in Walker Civil Engineering Pty Ltd v Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance & London Insurance plc & Ors (1999) 10 ANZ Insurance Cases 61-418, the leading Australian case on what constitutes damage and the operation of defective workmanship exclusions in contractor's risk policies.
Other notable legal outcomes include advising the insurers of the successful building contractor in the High Court in Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd v Fox (2009) 240 CLR 1; defending a $150 million class action before the Federal Court of Australia arising from the suspension of the manufacturing licence of Pan Pharmaceuticals Limited, acting for a Lloyd’s Syndicate and the London company market-based insurers of a coal mine against whom an $80 million claim was made following a spontaneous combustion fire (involving coverage issues such as non-disclosure and policy conditions / exclusions), advising the professional indemnity insurers of contractors involved in disputes exceeding $60 million arising out of the construction of the third runway at Sydney Airport, and acting for the London company market and Australian-based insurers of a major infrastructure consortium in a claim for advanced consequential loss and/or advance loss of profits of $35 million.
Recognised by various independent global legal guides, including:
- Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific (from 2010 to the current time)
- Legal 500 Asia Pacific (from 2012 to the current time)
- Best Lawyers® in Australia from 2012 to the current time
Chambers Asia Pacific 2021 commented Geoffrey Connellan as a 'very effective senior practitioner' with a 'good practice' and 'a very good reputation'. An immensely experienced insurance defence litigator of over 35 years' standing, he advises a large and varied range of clients on insurance, reinsurance and liability issues.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2018 described ‘Geoffrey Connellan has a strong contentious practice acting for insurers and their insureds. He operates on professional indemnity and financial lines matters, and on ISR claims, class actions, investigations and public and product liability. A client notes that “his work is of a considerably high standard and he provides solid advice”'.