EXPERIENCE & EXPERTISE
Stephen specialises in advising and representing clients in litigation, in particular cases arising from dust and toxic tort, and liability cases arising from damage to infrastructure / property or personal injury. He acts either directly or via insurers for construction companies, public authorities, a national telecommunications entity, local councils, and owners of commercial property in all Australian jurisdictions.
He has been retained by two of Australia’s largest insurers to provide advice as to their national portfolios of engineered stone silica claims.
He is known for his prompt, accurate and pragmatic advice and is entirely familiar with the model litigant and equitable briefing policies with which government authorities must comply. Stephen’s in-depth litigation knowledge and experience has earned him a leading reputation internationally. He was the Australian lawyer retained to draft submissions and subsequently appear to instruct Counsel before the House of Lords on the comparative Australian legal position in the largest personal injury litigation pursued in the UK, resulting in a £3 billion saving to the UK insurance industry.
On instructions from the Law Society of New South Wales, Stephen prepared the submission to the New South Wales Parliament in respect of legislation introducing the current protocol for litigating asbestos claims in and subsequently prepared the submissions by the Society and a number of insurers to amendments to that system.
Stephen was appointed a Contributions Assessor by the Attorney General of New South Wales. In this quasi-judicial role, he apportions contributions between defendants and cross defendants in asbestos cases.
In 2011, Stephen acted in the High Court in the leading Australian authority on admission of expert evidence.
Examples of Stephen’s experience include:
- Dasreef Pty Ltd v Hawchar (2011) 243 CLR 588, High Court of Australia – the test case on what constitutes admissible expert opinion evidence
- Rothwell v Chemical & Insulating Co Ltd & Anor  1 AC 281, House of Lords – the UK test case on actionability of pure psychological effect and psychiatric illness following from asbestos exposure
- Suvaal v Cessnock City Council (2003) 77 ALJR 1449, High Court of Australia – analysis of the scope of the duty of care owed by road authorities
- Brodie & Anor v Singleton Shire Council (2001) 206 CLR 512, High Court of Australia – involving duty of care owed by local government authorities
- GIO General Limited v ABB Installation & Service Pty Limited & Ors (2000) 19 NSWCCR 720 – NSW Court of Appeal – contribution recovery between divisible and indivisible asbestos illnesses
- Babcock International Pty Ltd v Babcock Australia Ltd & Anor (2003) 56 NSWLR 51 – NSW Court of Appeal – involving proportionate recovery between a state-owned corporation, a builder and its internationally-based parent company
- Wallaby Grip Ltd v QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd & Anor (2010) 240 CLR 444– High Court of Australia – the test case on onus of proof of the terms of insurance cover in ‘Lost Policy’ situations
- Bovis Lend Lease Pty Ltd v Tacon  NSWCA 79 – NSW Court of Appeal – involving judicial discretion issues
- Multiplex Constructions Pty Limited v Irving & Ors  NSWCA 346 – involving insurance coverage
- Sydney City Council v Zegarac (1998) 43 NSWLR 195– NSW Court of Appeal – involving the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW).
Awards / Accolades
Recognised by various independent global legal guides, including:
- Ranked as a Pre-eminent and Leading Lawyer – Dust Diseases (Defendant) in NSW by Doyle’s Guide since 2016.
- Named ‘the clients’ choice in asbestos litigation’ in Australasian Legal Business magazine, May 2009
Stephen has been appointed to the Dust Diseases Appeal Committee of the NSW Specialist Accreditation Board