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James McLean



+61 2 9234 4566

James has more than 20 years’ experience advising clients on all facets of public and product liability claims. He acts for insurers, brokers, underwriting agents and large corporations.

James manages litigation at all levels and appreciates that each case requires its own tailored strategy and management to achieve the most favourable result for his clients.


James acts for a broad range of insureds defending personal injury claims and this experience has been recognised by The Law Society of NSW with his specialist accreditation.

James conducts litigation primarily in NSW but also in the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and NT. As well as insurers, he also acts for government departments, banks, property trusts, gas suppliers, hotels, builders, motor vehicle manufacturers, churches, charities, casinos, gymnasiums, sporting organisations, event organisers and department stores.

Claims resolved by James range from standard slip and fall type accidents to complex matters involving the negligent design of truck steering columns and safety equipment for parachutists. James has successfully handled personal injury claims in a broad variety of factual settings from Rugby League games, assaults on licensed premises, golf matches and parachuting jumps to straight forward trip/slip and falls.


Some of James’s Major Cases include:

  • Shaw v Thomas [2010] NSW169 – James acted for homeowners who were sued by a 10 year old boy who had sustained head injuries during a sleepover when he fell from a bunk bed. The boy was successful at trial, being awarded approximately $1 million plus costs, which were likely to be significant following an eight day trial. There was a widespread media coverage and community concern at the decision, which meant that parents could potentially be liable for injuries sustained by children in the normal course of playing on their premises. For those without insurance, a judgment of this kind against them could mean the loss of the family home plus a sizeable debt. An appeal was filed which was ultimately successful. The Court of Appeal then heard a verdict on behalf of the firm’s client. The plaintiff sought special leave to appeal to the High Court but this was refused.
  • Erwin v Iveco Trucks Australia Limited [2010] NSWCA113 – acted for an international truck manufacturer in a product liability claim worth in excess of $4 million. The plaintiff in this case was injured when a truck manufactured by the client lost its steering and crashed into him. After extensive and complex expert evidence was tendered, the trial at the Supreme Court found that the plaintiff’s injuries were suffered as a result of the other defendant’s negligence in failing to maintain the vehicle, rather than any alleged defect in the design and manufacture of the truck. The Court of Appeal confirmed the trial judge’s findings. James was successful in recovering almost $200,000 in costs from the unsuccessful defendant.
  • McCracken v Melbourne Storm Rugby League Football Club Limited and 2 others [2007] NSWCA 353 – defending an NRL club and two rugby league players in a claim brought by an ex-international rugby league player in the Supreme Court of NSW. The plaintiff was seeking substantial damages as a result of injuries sustained in a tackle whilst playing in the NRL competition.
  • Desmond v Cullen (2001) – the NSW Court of Appeal considered the liability of hoteliers and the intoxication of patrons.


Ranked in the peer-reviewed Best Lawyers® in Australia list for

  • Insurance Law 2025
  • Personal Injury Litigation 2025



  • Bachelor of Laws, 1992, University of Sydney

Specialist Accreditations

  • Accredited Specialist - Personal Injury Law


  • Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance
  • Law Society of New South Wales
  • Women in Insurance NSW