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Feedback on Risk Management Seminar

Over 2,300 practitioners have attended the 2015/2016 Risk Management seminar. The feedback we received via the 'voting gadgets' has been very positive.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect was what practitioners said they would do to manage risks following the seminar:

  • 42% said the session will prompt them to do more to manage Professional Liability risks

  • 37% said they will do the same, but with different priorities

  • 19% said the sessions will not change anything

  • 2% said they will do less!

We urge all insured firms to at least consider the risk management process that was outlined in the seminar, and think about where they might direct or redirect their energies to better control the risks of a professional negligence claim. A little time spent on this now may save a whole lot of time and money in the future.

For those practitioners who were unable to attend the seminar in person, we expect to release the seminar via the Law Society CPD online in early May 2016, allowing approximately 8 weeks to access and complete it by 30 June 2016.

Please note that attendance at risk management seminars will be optional next (insurance) year. However by attending, as well as learning more about risk management, you might be able to secure a discount on your insurance annual contribution in 2017/2018.

More details can be found on the Law Mutual website and below in this email communication.


2016/2017 Insurance Arrangements

The insurance arrangements for 2016/2017 have been finalised. All insured practices should have submitted their application for insurance by now and many will have received a tax invoice for the annual contribution and administration levy. Please ensure these are paid by 16 May or you will incur a late lodgement penalty.

The underwriters for the 2016/2017 arrangements will be Vero (50%), Allianz (25%) and Amlin (25%).

This means that QBE, our lead underwriter since 2006/2007, is no longer part of the ongoing insurance arrangements. We have greatly appreciated QBE’s support and will continue to work closely with them dealing with claims for periods in which they are on risk. We enjoy a strong working relationship with QBE claims staff and we are confident that will continue.

Other than the change of underwriter, the insurance arrangements are similar to the 2015/2016 insurance year. Full details of the arrangements and the Policy Wording will be published on the Law Mutual website in early May.


Risk Management Changes

Law Mutual (WA) has provided an annual two hour risk management seminar to all its insured practitioners as part of the insurance arrangements. However, it is recognised that the contents of these seminars may not necessarily have been directly relevant to all of the practitioners who have attended. Accordingly, Law Mutual (WA) will be changing its risk management seminar offering in the 2016/2017 insurance year to a series of different seminars that are each focused on the needs of different categories of practitioners and Law Practices and various types of claims.

In addition to its seminars, Law Mutual (WA) also provides risk management tools, and risk management advices and alerts to insured practitioners on our website. The website tools will be supplemented by a risk management advisory service for insured practitioners that will be launched later this year.

Law Mutual (WA) also recognises the importance of implementing effective risk management systems by providing a discount to QPS accredited Law Practices.

As mentioned above, from the 2016/2017 insurance year onwards, Law Mutual (WA) will offer a series of targeted seminars. There will not be a 'requirement' to attend these seminars. However, these seminars will qualify as approved training for the purposes of a risk management discount, which is detailed on our website. It is also intended that these seminars will attract CPD points. Not all of the seminars will be free of charge; some will attract a small fee to cover Law Mutual’s costs.



Ashley Macknay and Shonelle Duthie, MDS Legal


The threat of cybercrime is increasing exponentially and represents a very real risk to the delivery of legal services.[1] That risk has been borne out in two recent examples.

It was recently reported in the UK that a plausible email, apparently sent from a client, led a law firm to pay substantial trust funds to a fraudster’s bank account. The reported facts are disturbing.

The law firm, acting on the sale of a clients’ residential property, emailed the clients asking for their bank account details in order to pay them the sale proceeds. The clients replied by email providing their details. A short while later, the law firm received another email, apparently also from the clients, which requested that the law firm ignore the earlier email and provided different bank account details. The law firm acted on the second email and deposited the sale proceeds into the nominated bank account. That account was operated by a fraudster. Substantial funds were withdrawn from the fraudster’s account before the scam was uncovered and the account was frozen.

It was reported that the fraudster was probably using software that scanned internet traffic for emails containing financial information. Once the clients’ initial email was intercepted, the fraudster sent the second, fraudulent, email.

This example highlights how easily a lawyer could be the subject of a fraud where complete reliance is placed on the authenticity of an email, without any independent verification.

In another reported scam in the UK, a sole practitioner transferred the equivalent of more than AUD$1.3million from her trust account into a fraudster’s bank account, allegedly as a result of a scam involving voice over internet protocol (VOIP). VOIP is a telephone system increasingly used by lawyers.

The lawyer said that the fraudster, claiming to be a bank employee, telephoned her and advised that one of her bank accounts had been compromised. The fraudster requested that the lawyer telephone the bank using the number on the back of her bank debit card to obtain further advice. The lawyer did as requested, but spoke to the fraudster in the belief it was the bank.

It has been suggested that the scam involved the use of VOIP and, instead of terminating the initial call, the fraudster may have kept the line open so that the lawyer’s call simply reconnected with the fraudster. The lawyer, allegedly acting on instructions from the fraudster, then transferred trust funds to a new “safe” account, accessible by the fraudster.

Commentary suggests that some calls made on VOIP can remain connected for up to 12 minutes after seemingly being terminated. Accordingly, it has been recommended that a verification call of the type made by the lawyer should be made on a separate phone or after an extended period of time.

Lawyers should consult the National Institute of Standards and Technology publication Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (12 February 2014), as recommended by ASIC in its report Cyber resilience: Health check (March 2015), for guidance on measures that can be taken to prevent cybercrime.

[1] Law Council of Australia President Stuart Clark on 21 April 2016 when commenting on the Australian Government’s announcement of a $230 million cyber security initiative.


Get to know your Law Mutual (WA)

Erin Macfarlane, Claims Solicitor

Erin Macfarlane, Claims Solicitor, has been at Law Mutual (WA) since October 2015 and will remain here until January 2017 while Sharan Gill returns from her maternity leave. Prior to joining Law Mutual, Erin worked abroad as an English teacher before joining private practice, primarily in the insurance arena, with a focus on workers’ compensation, general liability and public liability claims.

She worked for self-insureds such as Telstra, Australia Post and John Holland Group and major insurers. She advised these parties in relation to policy indemnity, liability, third party contribution, quantum and claims management. Outside of work, Erin enjoys the Arts, Konga, boutique beers and volunteering with environmental and other charity groups. Among her favourite songs are New Order’s 'Thieves Like Us' and Beach House’s 'Take Care'.


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Contact Law Mutual (WA)

Street Address: Level 4, 160 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
Postal Address: PO Box Z5345, Perth WA 6831

Telephone:  (08) 9481 3111   |  Facsimile:  (08) 9481 3166