Deborah has practiced for over three decades in insurance, with more than two decades of them as partner/principal.
She founded Gilchrist Connell’s Perth office – leading it from a small WA start-up to a thriving office catering to some of the world’s largest insurers and a host of specialist underwriters. Her leadership and successes saw her win the prestigious national Lawyer’s Weekly Partner of the Year award for Insurance 2017 as well as the Best Lawyers award for Lawyer of the Year 2020 – Professional Malpractice for Perth (and the same award for the 2024 year). Deborah is trusted by major, global insurer clients on their financial lines, liability, property, and recoveries claims.
Deborah has extensive experience in policy advice on indemnity issues, including notification issues, fraud, non-disclosure, waiver of subrogation and cross liability, illegality and partial coverage. She has advised insurers on new and updated personal lines and financial lines policy wordings and operational matters.
Deborah provides coverage advice and resolves claims in various courts and tribunals, appearing as counsel in interlocutory applications, mediations, settlement conferences and instructing Counsel at trial.
Deborah is a trained mediator and has presented to major industry forums. She is on the editorial board of the Australian Civil Liability newsletter for Lexis Nexis, and served in a similar role for the Health Law Bulletin for many years.
Her clients value her well thought out and clear advice, her effective negotiating skills and her accessibility. Her approach is to focus on the key issues separating the parties’ positions, then address them whether through investigation, communication or litigation. Collaboration is Deborah’s default approach, to achieve the best outcomes for the client in a cost-effective way.
Articles and Presentations
Proportionate liability seminar, July 2022
EPL update and trends, May 2022
Non-Parties ordered to pay costs in the Federal Court (2021) 16(7) CL 103
Slippery when wet — bathroom floor treated as obvious risk (2020) 16(6) CL 82
Presentation to insurers on mandatory investigation standards under GICOP July 2020
Presentation to insurers on testing the boundaries of product cover – July 2020
‘Current Issues in Professional Liability: An Update on Significant Cases and Developments’ Legalwise seminar on Directors and Officers: Duties, Risk and Liabilities March 2019
Seminar series to client on client management as part of a risk management program 2017-2019
Control of accident scene claim survives summary dismissal: Fuller-Wilson v New South Wales (2018) 15(7&8) CL 117
The Australian Consumer Law – beyond misleading or deceptive conduct, 2018
The sad case of the part-eaten wedding cake: Harrington Estates (NSW) Pty Ltd t/as Harrington Grove Country Club v Turner (2017) 14(2) CL 24
Kronenberg v Bridge — lack of evidence saves the day for claimants (2014) 11(10) CL 136
A view from the West on joinder of insurers : QBE Insurance (Aust) Ltd v Lois Nominees Pty Ltd (2012) 9(3/4) CL 45
WA Court Upholds Finding of Gross Carelessness Based on Registrar’s Disputed Evidence — (2005) 14(2) HLB 26
A Failed Attempt to Attribute Nerve Damage to a Cannula Insertion: Leheste v Minister for Health — (2012) 20(8) HLB 126
A View from the West on Joinder of Insurers – Case Note; QBE Insurance (Aust) Ltd v Lois Nominees Pty Ltd — (2012) 9 (3 & 4) CL 45
A Warning to General Practitioners: Refer Your Patients – Case Note; Almario v Varipatis (No 2) — (2013) 21(3) HLB 224
Case Note – Wood v Strempel Survives Attempted High Court Challenge — (2006) 15(1) HLB 8
Court of Appeal Finds Hysterectomy Inevitable – Case Note; Hassan v Minister for Health — (2008) 16(10) HLB 164
Duty to Warn – Kula v Stuckey — (2001) 9(6) HLB 56
Failed Attempt to Further Stretch a Doctor’s Duty to Patient — (2000) 9(1) HLB 11
Heart Valve Manufacturer Defeats Product Liability Claim – Case Note; Carey-Hazell v Getz Bros & Co (Aust) Pty Ltd — (2004) 13(2) HLB 17
No Need to Warn of Unforeseen Risks – Case Note; Rooke v Minister of Health — (2009) 17(8) HLB 142
Operative and Post-Operative Wound Management – Case Note; Wall v Cooper — (2008) 16(9) HLB 138
TB v South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service — (2011) 19(8) HLB 128
The Extent of a General Practitioner’s Duty Explained – Case Note; Varipatis v Almario — (2013) 21(5) HLB 366
Unconscionable Conduct in the Context of Providing Medical Treatment – Case Note; Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v ACN 117 372 915 Pty — (2015) 23(8) HLB 156