New Zealand Law Society - Colinvaux's Law of Insurance in New Zealand

Colinvaux's Law of Insurance in New Zealand

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General Editors Robert Merkin and Chris Nicoll

Reviewed by Rebecca Scott

This new text published by Thomson Reuters is the first New Zealand franchise of Colinvaux’s Law of Insurance. Based on the English text – which also has a Hong Kong edition (a Singapore version is coming soon) – Colinvaux is an exhaustive and up-to-date work.

International expert Professor Robert Merkin, who edits the English text, is joined as general editor by Associate Professor Chris Nicoll of the University of Auckland. Contributing editors are New Zealand-based Rohan Havelock, Sophie Merkin and Rebecca Sellers.

Colinvaux aims to present a systematic analysis of insurance law in New Zealand. It succeeds. Taking the English original as its starting point, it focuses on the law as it is in New Zealand. Settled principles generally are illustrated with United Kingdom authority. The emphasis though is on New Zealand law, supplemented by English and Australian cases where those guide and inform the New Zealand position.

The Christchurch earthquakes have brought insurance issues to the fore in this country. The volume of claims and the importance of the issues have generated an unprecedented volume of insurance litigation. New Zealand is leading common law development in this area.

The work fills a gap in the market. There has been no new New Zealand text for 22 years. Australian texts have limited relevance given the codification in Australia and some classic English texts have inadequate technical depth for today’s insurance specialist. It is encouraging that New Zealand-specific insurance law now warrants such a substantial book.

With a dedicated insurance litigation list in the Christchurch High Court, it seems likely that more lawyers are professing competence in insurance than ever before. This comprehensive work will be indispensible for experienced insurance specialists, as well as for new entrants to the field.

The writing is excellent. The style is straightforward, concise and precise. The book is well organised. The structure is coherent. There is adequate detail. This is well balanced between the need for in-depth analysis and sufficient breadth of topics. Legal citations are clear, as are the footnotes.

The book is of great practical value for the insurance practitioner. The sections on subrogation and double insurance are particularly useful. The chapter on liability policies, while less than one tenth of the book’s volume, is amply detailed.

The primacy given to New Zealand law makes the book relevant and accessible to New Zealand lawyers. For instance the section on fraud in liability policies references IAG New Zealand Ltd v Jackson [2013] NZCA 302. This brokers negligence case nicely illustrates a discussion about fraud in connection with liability policies and the need for a causal connection with the loss.

The section on notification of claims and circumstances gives detailed review of UK cases such as HLB Kidsons (a firm) v Lloyds Underwriters [2008] EWCA Civ 1206, [2009] Lloyds Rep IR 178. This is followed by the application of s 9 Insurance Law Reform Act 1977 and New Zealand’s potential legislative reforms in this area.

The Christchurch earthquakes have given rise to difficult issues around such insurance fundamentals as the meaning of loss, reinstatement of cover, the measure of indemnity and the basis of settlement. The decisions in QBE Insurance (International) Ltd v Wild South Holdings Ltd [2014] NZCA 447 are carefully analysed.

The book is current as at 1 August 2014, but with the last-minute inclusion of important cases such as the Supreme Court’s decision in Ridgecrest NZ Ltd v IAG New Zealand Ltd [2014] NZSC 117 on reinstatement clauses. Earthquake litigation is continually developing and users of the book must take care to check for recent refinements.

The beauty of Colinvaux’s Law of Insurance in New Zealand lies in the combination of scope, technical detail and rigorous distillation of the of New Zealand position, underpinned by deep analysis of the law in the UK and the wider Commonwealth. This is a new generation text and a modern classic.

Colinvaux’s Law of Insurance in New Zealand, Thomson Reuters New Zealand Ltd, December 2014, 978-0-864728-64-7, 1,458 pages, paperback and e-book, $340.00 (GST and p&h excluded).

Rebecca Scott is a senior associate at longstanding Auckland boutique insurance litigation practice McElroys, winner of the New Zealand Law Awards Insurance Specialist Law Firm 2014. Rebecca is an experienced litigator, specialising in insurance and professional liability claims.

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