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"...a true expert in the field of English insurance law"Chambers UK 2017
"...incredibly user-friendly."Chambers UK 2017
"Responsive and incisive."Legal 500 2016
Alison specialises in commercial law, in particular insurance and reinsurance law. She has extensive experience of insurance and reinsurance litigation and arbitration.
She has been recommended in the legal Directories for many years. She is recommended as a leading Junior in Chambers UK, where she is described as “a well known figure in the insurance market”, ”well abreast of all new developments in UK insurance law” “an eminent authority in the insurance community”, “steeped in insurance law”, respected for her “patient, persuasive approach”, “good at analysis and gives clear advice”, “user-friendly and attentive” and where she wins praise for her “thoroughness, great knowledge and reliable advice”. She is also recommended in Legal 5OO where she is described as having “thorough knowledge of her fields of expertise” and as a ”first-rate communicator.”
She is renowned for her good track record in handling international insurance and reinsurance matters. She has advised on a vast variety of insurance covers and risks. She has drafted policy wordings and has provided expert evidence for foreign courts on English insurance law.
Alison sits as an arbitrator and mediator. She is also a High Court appointed examiner for the purpose of taking evidence by depositions. She regularly chairs and speaks at professional conferences on insurance and reinsurance law. She also speaks fluent French and German.
Alison has been an accredited mediator since 2004, having been trained by Nottingham Law School with particular emphasis on the requirements sought by ARIAS UK (the Insurance and Reinsurance Arbitration Society). She has been able to use her commercial law background and expertise in insurance and reinsurance law to assist parties in weighing up the risks of litigation and in considering viable options for settling their disputes.
She has experience of acting as a mediator and appearing before mediators in difficult insurance disputes. She has a friendly and constructive approach to mediation and seeks to support parties in their efforts to reach agreement. Her most recent mediation involved a multimillion-pound dispute between the insured and insurers regarding insurance coverage in relation to the insured’s development of antibody technology as therapies for cancer.
Alison has experience of major contractual disputes, including those involving points on international law, EU law and jurisdictional matters. She also has been instructed in cases involving restrictive practices and restraint of trade. She has developed a speciality in product liability cases, particularly those involving contaminated foods and recall of products.
Alison has extensive experience of insurance and reinsurance litigation before the courts and before arbitrators. She has appeared for and advised major insurance and reinsurance companies, Lloyd’s underwriters, the Corporation of Lloyd’s, Equitas, insurance brokers and insureds on a variety of covers, including: aviation; marine; contractors all risks; contingency and cancellation insurance; fidelity; professional indemnity; public liability; property; product liability; directors and officers insurance; employer’s liability; bloodstock insurance; jeweller’s block coverage; permanent health and critical health insurance; and legal expenses insurance. She has regularly been instructed to draft or re-draft policy wordings. She was instructed by Lloyd’s to provide independent expert evidence on the formation of insurance contracts at Lloyd’s for the purposes of an appeal being heard in the Court of Appeal in Sao Paulo, Brazil, arising out of Lloyd’s contingency insurance. She was a member of the Law Commission’s Advisory Panel in relation to the Law Commission’s reform of insurance contract law, which culminated in the Insurance Act 2015.
Alison has particular expertise in permanent health insurance and critical health insurance. She appeared successfully for insurers in Somer v General Accident Life Assurance Ltd, which was one of the early cases to reach the High Court on interpretation of permanent health insurance. She has been instructed by insurers, including Aviva and Swiss Re, on various permanent health insurance disputes, such as Flute v Phoenix Life Ltd where the claimant was a former director of Independent Insurance. She has also acted for claimants in disputes on such policies. She has advised Munich Re on the interpretation and redrafting of definitions and terms in its critical illness policy wording.
Alison is experienced in dealing with jurisdictional issues, particularly those involving insurance and reinsurance contracts. She has appeared in many applications regarding disputes as to which courts have jurisdiction and whether a matter should be dealt with by arbitration in England or abroad. Many of these cases concerned contested jurisdiction issues following applications for permission to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction. One of these was the reported case of Denby v The Hellenic Mediterranean Lines Co Ltd where she appeared for the shipping company that took out insurance against cancellation of tickets and reduced income by reason of threatened hostilities of the Gulf War and disputed the High Court’s jurisdiction. She also appeared for the successful respondent in the Court of Appeal in Novus Aviation v Onur where the appellant (Onur) contested the jurisdiction of the English High Court over a dispute relating to millions of dollars due as a result of agreements being entered into for aviation wet leases.
Alison has longstanding expertise in product liability usually acting on behalf of insurers in subrogated actions or on policy coverage. In 2001 she was instructed on behalf of insurers in lengthy litigation over a fire at a factory caused by a defective food sprayer, which led to a multimillion claim against the product designers, which was eventually settled. She also appeared as Junior Counsel for insurers in the reported case of James Budgett Sugars v Norwich Union which concerned contaminated sugar and the construction of a products liability policy. She has acted for insurers in litigation involving product recalls, including that of a major pet food manufacturer which led to the substantial recall of a popular pet food product and also in litigation concerning contaminated whisky which led to the recall of a well-known whisky brand within the UK and abroad.
Alison has been instructed in a number of claims involving accountants, solicitors, stockbrokers, surveyors, engineers and financial advisers. Her particular expertise lies in claims involving insurance brokers and insurance intermediaries. For some years she was a member of Lloyd’s pro bono disciplinary proceedings panel and sat as a member of the disciplinary panel of the Bar Council.
Alison has appeared and advised in numerous cases involving breach of duties by insurance brokers, including failure to place appropriate cover, sensitive cases where brokers were negligent in placing risks for financial institutions, failure to disclose material information to insurers and failure to advise clients of important terms. She has regularly advised insurers and insureds on the coverage and interpretation of a variety of professional liability policies and has redrafted such policies.
She has also advised professional bodies and insurers on whether members’ professional liability policies comply with statutory and regulatory requirements. Alison has regularly advised The General Osteopathic Council on whether different policies provide sufficient coverage for its members’ professional liability.
She has appeared and advised in cases involving professional negligence of accountants, e.g. regarding overseas trusts, negligent valuation of shares, failure to advise on VAT and Inheritance Tax implications of transactions. She has advised on solicitors’ negligence in various areas, including property transactions, tax advice, planning and personal injuries.
Alison has experience in property damage claims, particularly fire and flood. Initial experience was gained as Junior Counsel in litigation arising out of the construction of the Kariba Dam. She has regularly acted for insurers on subrogated actions following insurance claims. In recent years she has been instructed on insurance claims arising out of major fires at a large warehouse distribution centre and at waste recycling sites.