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Client story: Taking on the insurance big boys

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Google “Matton Developments” and you’ll find page after page of commentary about the case of Matton Developments Pty Ltd v CGU Insurance Limited. The case concerned whether CGU was required to indemnify Matton Developments under an insurance policy for extensive damage caused to a crane following its collapse on a work site in February 2008.


What nobody involved at the time of the collapse envisaged, was the immense stress that would result from almost a decade of litigation.

As Mark Kenward, a Director of Matton Developments explained: “We resolved our claim against CGU after almost ten years of litigation and, while we could finally put the past decade behind us, it’s years of our lives that we can’t get back.”

The case attracted national attention after the Supreme Court of Queensland initially found against Matton, and again when the Queensland Court of Appeal overturned that decision, requiring CGU Insurance to indemnify Matton Developments under its insurance policy.

In Mark’s opinion, the case put by CGU was never tenable and was based on an ignorance of the workings of cranes of this type and the sites on which they operate.

“Nothing that CGU claimed made any sense. We had procedures in place to ensure the safe operation of the crane while it was under load. When you see one of these panels being lifted into the air, you can immediately see why you don’t take any risks. They’ll kill you if they fall.”

Redchip Director, Robert Champney, worked closely with Mark and his family throughout the years of court action. He was the first lawyer to head to one of Mark’s building sites to see for himself a crane in action and better understand the practical workings of the equipment, a crane site and, in turn, build a full picture of Matton Developments and CGU’s case.

Mark explained: “I have had to learn more about the law in the last ten years than I ever wanted to know, and Robert was key to explaining it to us. He took the time to fully understand our business and the circumstances under which cranes on our projects operate, which was key to understanding our case in this litigation.

“Robert listened to what we had to say, and then broke his advice down into easily relatable pieces rather than throwing legal jargon at us”.

Mark’s family has now gone on to establish new construction and development businesses in the wake of the closure of Matton.

“We had to start again, and Robert is still playing a role with regular updates about the legal changes happening in the construction side of the business.

“With Robert, it’s about his honesty and down to earth approach. His ability to break down technical jargon into easily understandable advice really makes us feel comfortable that we are receiving good legal, as well as commercially practical counsel, and that Robert genuinely listens to us and cares about our business needs”.

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