Wes is an experienced insurance lawyer focused on property, energy, construction and professional risks across the transport and infrastructure, engineering and construction, power generation and distribution, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors. He is routinely instructed to advise on complex coverage issues, defend claims against professionals in the construction sector, assist in crisis and catastrophe management, and act in complicated, high-value subrogated recovery and dual insurance actions.
With the experience he gained as a site manager in the construction industry (before becoming a lawyer), Wes is adept at reading and interpreting plans, understanding complex technical issues and speaking the language of insureds, adjusters and experts. He is known for his ability to identify key technical and factual issues earlier than most and then concisely explaining the legal implications of those issues to his clients. His unique industry experience means the technical learning curve is greatly reduced and often eliminated entirely, enabling him to identify core issues much sooner. On the claims side, this ensures Wes' clients are able to provide faster outcomes for their insureds and deliver on their claims promise, while on the recovery side it means quicker recovery times and reduced costs.
Wes acts for local institutional and niche insurers, Lloyd's syndicates (London and Singapore based) and several US based insurers. He also acts for design and construction contractors, and engineering consultancies with large self-insured retentions.Wes most frequently advises clients that include FM Global (and Affiliated FM), Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co, Zurich Australian Insurance Ltd, MS Amlin, Chaucer plc, QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd, Great Lakes Australia, AXA Corporate Solutions, Swiss Re, DEXUS and Lendlease.
Wes and his team provided coverage advice to Lloyd's underwriters subscribing to a Commercial Builders Structural Defects Policy concerning a multi-million dollar claim.
Wes' team acted for the Lloyd's based professional indemnity insurer of a building consultant who was sued for more than $3.6 million for negligence and breach of contract.
Wes' team successfully recovered several million dollars, representing 100% of the amount paid under the policy, on behalf of a subrogating insurer against a design and construction contractor and head design consultant.
Wes advised insurers on issues of non-disclosure, misrepresentation and fraud concerning prior criminal convictions of the insured's director.
Wes and his team successfully recovered more than $4 million on behalf of a subrogating insurer against a design and construction contractor and demolition contractor.
Wes and his team are currently advising the local and overseas underwriters subscribing to a project-specific Contract Works and Material Damage Policy covering the construction of one of Australia's longest natural gas pipelines.
"I have been privileged enough to work with Wes over a number of years on various matters and have had a constructive relationship working on issues from relatively straightforward property matters to complex construction issues and contractual disputes. Wes is the consummate professional who has not only grasped the intricate complexities of the issues but has also responded in a highly professional and timely manner. His reports have always been meticulously researched and well-thought out, and he often recommends practical solutions that relate back to the policy wordings. Wes works in a collaborative and inclusive way and his work has always been of the highest quality. I would not hesitate to recommend him for any matter."
Sherrie Morton, Senior Claims Specialist, AXA Corporate Solutions.
"Contract works is a relatively new business class for us so when we were notified of our first complex 'out of the box' claim, Wes guided us through the various steps inclusive of all parties' contractual, legal and insurance positions, as well as claim strategy. With Wes' practical construction industry experience, technical know-how and passion for early results and solutions, he was able to assist us with a non-confrontational and amicable resolution for all parties concerned. We were very pleased with Wes' assistance in the matter and would recommend him for any construction and/or contract works matters."
Melissa Elliot, National Claims & Loss Prevention Manager, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.
"I have worked with Wes in a professional capacity where he has represented our claims operations for over five years. The opinions that we have received on complex insurance claims reflect thoroughness of research, analysis of legal cases and prudent recommendations. Wes is prompt with delivery of opinions and he has displayed the ability to turn around difficult advices within a limited time frame. Construction claims require special knowledge and understanding of the market, and Wes's experience and expertise in this area gives him a competitive edge in not only clarifying policy wordings but also in providing suggestions for removing ambiguities in wordings. As an insurance practitioner, I respect the technical and practical considerations that Wes brings to the settlement of claims. This reduces the unnecessary delay in claims settlement and produces the best economic outcomes."
Claims Manager (direct business), multinational reinsurer.
Wes was named Australian Contract Works Lawyer of the Year at Finance Monthly's Global Awards 2017.
He is also recommended for Commercial Insurance law in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018.
Wes holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Wollongong.
He is a member of the Australian Professional Indemnity Group, Engineering Discussion Group and Australian Insurance Lawyers Association.
Before joining Sparke Helmore in 2013, Wes worked at Norton Rose Fulbright and boutique insurance firm Lee & Lyons (now Clyde & Co).
Wes enjoys running with his wife and two dogs, rock climbing and water skiing. When he isn't in the office, he can usually be found on the family hobby farm in the Southern Highlands where he runs a small herd of beef cattle and alpacas.