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Paul O’Brien





Paul is a commercial and insurance litigator with over 35 years experience as a legal practitioner. He was a partner of an international law firm for more than 10 years before joining YPOL.

Paul’s work has enjoyed peer and industry recognition. He has been consistently rated as one of the leading insurance and reinsurance lawyers in Australia. As long ago as 2006, the International Who’s Who of Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyers described Paul as ‘one of the best litigators in the region’. Paul has most recently been mentioned as a leading Australian insurance and reinsurance lawyer in publications such as Chambers & Partners Guides for 2013 to 2022, and the International Who’s Who of Insurance and Insurance Lawyers for 2013 to 2022.

Paul had the honour of being listed in The Best Lawyers of Australia as “Insurance Lawyer of the Year” for 2021 (as per article in the Australian Financial Review of 24 April 2020).

Paul has acted for major local and international reinsurers, insurers and their insureds. His areas of expertise include:

  • Insurance and reinsurance claims monitoring and coverage, particularly for large-scale excess of loss claims and financial lines claims
  • Professional indemnity defence litigation, especially financial lines and building and construction
  • Insurance coverage litigation
  • Reinsurance advice and claims
  • First party loss claims, particularly under fidelity, crime and bankers bond covers
  • Policy drafting
  • Regulatory matters, including APRA, ASIC and ACCC investigations
  • Product liability
  • General commercial litigation

Paul is a member of the Law Society of New South Wales and the Australian Insurance Law Association (AILA). He is a past president of the New South Wales branch of AILA, and a past director of the AILA National Board.

  • Leading Australian Insurance and Reinsurance lawyer, Chambers & Partners, 2013 to 2022
  • International Who’s Who Legal, Insurance and Reinsurance, 2013 to 2023
  • Australia & New Zealand  Who’s Who Legal, Insurance & Reinsurance 2023
  • Best Lawyers 2022, Insurance Law
  • Leading Lawyer, Professional Indemnity Lawyers in the 2023 Doyle’s Guide (Preeminent in 2022, Preeminent in 2021; Leading in 2020)







Particular examples of Paul’s experience are:

  • Acting for Reinsurers of NAB in defence of proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia seeking cover of over $670 million in claims relating to the mis-selling of lending products in the UK
  • Acting for insurers of the CBA in relation to coverage and monitoring arising from the $700 million civil penalty imposed on the Bank for contraventions of the AML/CTF Act, and subsequent securities class action proceedings
  • Acting for an excess of loss insurer of CIMIC in the defence of proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW for losses arising from foreign bribery allegations
  • Acting as coverage and monitoring counsel in respect of significant excess of loss insurance exposures relating to class action claims arising out of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and the 2011 Queensland Floods
  • Acting as coverage counsel on various reinsurance exposures arising from the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes
  • Acting as coverage and monitoring counsel in respect of significant financial lines claims. These include various shareholder class action claims (including the securities class actions against Westpac, Woolworths, WorleyParsons, Dick Smith, Sirtex, UGL, RCR Tomlinson, Vocation and Surfstitch), various investment adviser class actions (including the Storm Financial class action), and other large-scale claims against leading financial institutions (including six pending class actions against a major financial institution arising out of the Banking Royal Commission)
  • Conducting the CSR/NZI asbestos coverage litigation (which was resolved for a publicly disclosed amount of $100million and involved policies issued from 1955 to 1975)
  • Conducting the Cigna anti-trust injunction litigation in the High Court of Australia
  • Acting as Coordinating counsel for Australian insurers involved in the CSR insurance coverage and anti-trust litigation in New Jersey, USA
  • Providing insurance coverage advice in connection with the collapse of Opes Prime, Allco Finance, Prime Brokers and Storm Financial

- Paul'S -

Areas of expertise