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AILA President’s message with Cameron Roberts

President refelects on his time in office

After five years as AILA National President, and in AILA's 40th year, I thought it opportune to reflect on what has been an eventful tenure.

While there are many major projects still in progress, there have been significant achievements over the past five years.

Those achievements would not have been possible without the support of a strong and consistent board of directors. This column is my opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank them all for their important contributions to AILA’s progress.

In my first year at the helm, we saw the National Product Liability Association merge with AILA. There was already significant crossover as many people were members of both organisations.

I have always believed AILA must target the insurance industry and be a major resource for it. Without insurance, the economy would slide to a halt because no one would be prepared to take risks. While insurers and other industry players – like lawyers – are often viewed in a negative light, it is vital to emphasise their role in risk transfer that keeps the wheels of commerce turning.

As such, to encourage greater industry involvement, in my second year in office AILA established an industry membership rate 75% below the standard rate.

During the Covid-19 years, my second and third as president, AILA was quick to transition to online webinars. While that pivot was a product of necessity, there have been great ancillary benefits as it has enabled AILA to reach into regional areas and for members to hear and see presentations that were previously outside their geographic locations. If a seminar of interest was presented in only one city, members outside that location had to wait until the recording was available in the AILA online library. Now members can participate in real time.

While AILA has returned to hosting some face-to-face events, we now have a hybrid model with webinars continuing at affordable costs. This enables many members, particularly those who are time poor and with limited financial support, to still have the opportunity to listen to a broad range of presenters.

AILA’s rebrand and resulting fresh face was an important step in modernising the brand and emphasising AILA is not just an organisation for insurance lawyers but embraces the entire gamut of the industry.

As with the rebrand, where we engaged expert external consultants to achieve our goal, we also engaged consultants to help AILA document a suite of long overdue policies and procedures. AILA now has a range of formal, documented policies including:

  • a Board Charter
  • a Board Evaluation & Renewal Policy
  • a Code of Conduct
  • a Conflict of Interest Policy, and
  • an EO, Diversity, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Policy.

We have also established a National Sponsorship Policy, which has been passed by the board and accepted by the state and territory branches. It enables branches to continue seeking sponsorship for their events and provides a suite of documents to assist them. It also enables AILA to seek national sponsorship and that quest will start in the second half of this year.

During my term a national banking model has been adopted, which consolidates 18 bank accounts into one, creating significant savings on bank fees.

Reciprocal membership arrangements have been established with fellow AIDA chapters, the Insurance Law Association of Singapore and the New Zealand Insurance Law Association. These enable AILA members to attend ILAS and NZILA events at member rates and assist in building strong relationships with neighbouring organisations that share our goals.

We’ve also added the specialised seminar series finlines@aila, property@aila, casualty@aila and diversity@aila as adjuncts to the existing life@aila.

A new website is a work in progress, but much closer to fruition. It will be mobile compatible, more user friendly and more easily updated than the current site.

All these activities have required considerable expense, but AILA has continued to consistently make an annual profit. That translates into additional member benefits with no major hikes in annual membership fees.

I am confident AILA will continue its industry focus and ensure the industry’s interests are always at the forefront.

I’d like to make special mention of Vickie Saccaro, who manages the AILA Secretariat. Vickie is an invaluable resource who works extremely hard, is totally committed to supporting the board and the chapter committees, and has a great understanding of what members want and need.

Thank you to Vickie and all the board directors and committee members I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five years and thank you to all the members who continue to attend AILA functions, both face to face and online. Your ongoing membership reminds us of the goals we’re achieving together.

Appeal Court rejects fraudulent claim

In the December 2022 issue of Resolve, we reported on a NSW Supreme Court decision that Chubb Insurance Australia Ltd was entitled to deny a claim under a mobile plant and equipment package insurance policy because of fraud.

Citiline Concrete Pumping Pty Ltd took action against Chubb after it denied a claim for damages to a concrete pump fitted to a Volvo truck. Justice James Stevenson found Chubb was entitled to reduce its liability to nil because of Citiline’s misrepresentation and non-disclosure about the pump unit’s history and to deny indemnity because the claim was made fraudulently.

In a NSW Appeal Court judgement released on 1 June, Citiline’s appeal against that ruling was dismissed with costs. The court found each of the two bases on which Justice Stevenson had made his determination was “separately sufficient to justify Chubb’s rejection of Citiline’s claim and the dismissal of the proceedings”.



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