Keep up to date with the latest news and developments in insurance law, by subscribing to our blog, InDefence.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Insurers can be joined as parties to PIPA claims

Case note: Shapcott v W.R. Berkley Insurance (Europe) Limited & Anor [2015] QDC 102

Personal Injuries Proceedings Act Qld – PIPA – Section 16 PIPA – Insurance Contracts Act – PIPA Regulations – Contribution Notice PIPA 

Background

Mr Gary Michael (Michael) brought a claim for personal injuries against Raymond Shapcott (Shapcott) arising out of a massage and Atlas Profilax treatment.  That claim is regulated by the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) (PIPA).

Shapcott issued a contribution notice under the PIPA to Paul Camac (Camac).  Camac held a policy of insurance with professional indemnity insurer, W.R. Berkley Insurance (Europe Limited (Berkley).  Shapcott had no relevant policy of insurance under which he was the ‘named’ insured.

Berkley denied indemnity to Shapcott under the policy.  Shapcott proposed to issue a contribution notice under the PIPA to Berkley.  Michael consented to issue of the notice but Berkley refused. Shapcott made application to the Court for leave to issue a contribution notice to Berkley.

Issue

The central issue for determination was whether section 16(1) of PIPA was engaged, so as to make the Berkley a ‘contributor’.  Section 16(1) states:

‘A respondent who receives a complying part 1 notice of claim may, within the time prescribed under a regulation, add someone else as a contributor for the purposes of this part by giving the person a written notice (contribution notice)— (a) claiming an indemnity from, or contribution towards, the respondent’s liability’. 

Decision

No authorities were before the Court that had considered the meaning of the word ‘indemnity’ in the context of the PIPA.

As such, the Court considered other parts of the legislation noting that:

  • under section 27(1)(b)(ii) reference is made to an ‘insurer’ as a respondent.
  • under section 11(3) reference is made to the fact that an insurer under a ‘relevant insurance policy’ can ‘indemnify’.

Having regard to the way these terms were used in the legislation, the Court was satisfied that reference to ‘indemnity’ in section 16(1) could include reference to indemnity under a policy of insurance.

Shapcott highlighted that the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld) and the Civil Proceedings Act 2011 (Qld) required all matters arising from the same facts to be determined together – so there was no utility in refusing the application.  He also argued it would be of benefit to allow the parties to:

  • make proper investigations.
  • inform themselves of strengths and weaknesses of their cases.
  • participate in a compulsory conference and exchange mandatory final offers.

In a judgment delivered 22 May 2015, Dorney QC DCJ allowed Shapcott’s application.

Considerations

Given this decision, it will be interesting to see how parties manage PIPA claims involving indemnity disputes in the future.  Presumably the approach taken will depend upon the circumstances of each matter and the parties involved.

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION for advice and information about a personal injury or contribution claim against you by calling (07) 3067 3025 or contact us online.

Contact us

Contact Form

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Kate Denning

Kate is the Founder & Principal of Denning Insurance Law. Kate opened her own practice out of a desire to deliver high value, specialised legal services. With top tier and in-house experience, her passion for delivering great results, approachable manner and breadth of experience, set her apart from her competitors.

Kate DenningInsurers can be joined as parties to PIPA claims

Related News

InDefence covers legal and technical issues in a general way. Changes in circumstances or the law may affect the completeness or accuracy of the information published. InDefence is not designed to express opinions on specific cases, to provide legal advice or to establish a relationship of client and lawyer between Denning Insurance Law and the reader, or any third party. No person should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of this publication. You should seek legal advice particular to your circumstances before taking action on any issue dealt with in this blog.