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Joan Williams

Senior Associate

Newcastle

+61 2 4911 5404 0490 437 298

Joan’s insurance practice focuses on public liability, product liability and professional indemnity claims arising from diverse circumstances. She also regularly assists local government clients with planning and environment and administrative law matters.

EXPERIENCE & EXPERTISE

Joan’s practice is predominantly in the area of public liability, professional indemnity and product liability for clients such as a number of Australia’s largest insurers and local councils, as well as handling product liability claims for an international insurers.

Joan handles cases arising from diverse circumstances, ranging from ‘trip and falls’ through to injuries on worksites and dog bite matters. Many of these matters involve multiple parties, cross-claims and complications arising from indemnity, dual insurance, and related workers compensation proceedings.

Joan’s practice also spans governance, GIPA and privacy law, where she advises her clients on their obligations, and reviews policies on their behalf. Joan’s broad experience includes working for a time with the Australian Federal Police’s legal team in Canberra.

Joan is known as a lawyer with a wide knowledge of the law across a number of fields, coupled with a knowledge of obscure areas of law and principles, and an ability to deal with both complex factual matters and voluminous documentary evidence. Within the local government field, she has developed a reputation for dealing with what might be described as ‘fringe’ plaintiffs – those with political agendas, novel legal claims and often self-represented.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Joan has had a number of successes in obtaining verdicts in favour of her clients, most recently, Joan successfully defended a claim against Wagga Wagga City Council in which it was alleged a pedestrian suffered injury when hit by an automatic door. Joan obtained a verdict in favour of the Council, as well as an award in favour of Council for its costs (Gray v Wagga Wagga City Council [2021] NSWDC 108).

Joan represented a local council in relation to a very complex appeal matter involving three defendants, a s 151Z recovery, a Compensation to Relatives Claim, and complex issues under the Civil Aviation (Carriers Liability) Act 1959, in both the NSW Court of Appeal and the High Court of Australian (South West Helicopters Pty Ltd v Stephenson [2017] NSWCA 312; Parkes shire Council v South West Helicopters Pty Ltd [2019] HCA 14).

Joan is frequently called upon by local councils and other government entities to assist with complex or politically sensitive requests for information or GIPA Applications. Joan has developed a GIPA workshop to assist those entities in responding to those requests and applications, which has been very well received by a number of clients.

Recognition

Publications & Papers

Published in the prestigious UNSW Law Journal (November 2019): An Age of Diversity: Where to Next for the Judicial Diversity Project?

Awards

NSW Bar Association and Sir Owen Dixon Chambers Prizes for Evidence Law, 2013

Expertise

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons Class I Div I), 2013, University of Newcastle
  • Diploma of Legal Practice, 2013, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction), 2011, University of Newcastle

Specialist Accreditations 

  • NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law

Memberships

  • Australasian Professional Indemnity Group
  • Environment and Planning Law Association of New South Wales
  • Law Society of New South Wales
  • Newcastle Law Society
  • Business Hunter
  • Path 2 Change – Board Member