Richard Hern

BA, LLB, Consultant

Richard is a consultant in the Firm's Insurance team.  He is well known in the insurance industry for his technical expertise in this area of law and for his skill in litigation/dispute resolution.  He is also widely recognised as being approachable, and for adopting a pragmatic and cost-effective stance.
The breadth of Richard's expertise in insurance spans most areas with particular expertise in:
  • liability cover – especially professional indemnity claims involving real estate and property professionals (including leaky building claims), financial advisers (brokers), liquidators/receivers, and solicitors
  • complex property claims (material damage) and issues arising from business interruption
  • statutory liability, and occupational health & safety claims/defence work
  • defamation
  • all aspects of health & life insurance, including life, accident, travel, income protection, trauma and TPD (total permanent disability) issues. Richard has a reputation in the health & life insurance area as a leading practitioner in this area, and one of the few 'go to' people, with an extensive understanding of both NZ and overseas jurisprudence and developments
  • insurance fraud. Richard has worked extensively with insurers and leading fraud investigators on countless suspected and complex fraud and arson claims, and has achieved excellent outcomes for insurers in collaboration with other disciplines
  • policy drafting – particularly in the health & life insurance area.
Richard is a seasoned advocate, trial capable, and has worked repeatedly with some of the country's top insurance barristers.  His clients include some of the country’s most iconic real estate/property firms and insurers. 

Richard is acknowledged as a Leading Individual by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 for his work in insurance law.  He is also recommended and recognised as a leader in his field by Chambers Asia Pacific 2022.


The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms
"I like the intellectual stimulation of analysing the issues and identifying a solution as well as the human side of taking the problem out of the client’s lap. As far as the latter, it is very satisfying providing the means for the client to focus on getting back to their business, and not having to deal with what is often a stressful distraction."

Recent Projects

  • Instruction by health & life insurer in the largest life insurance claim paid in NZ history (to that point), where a comprehensive investigation with respect to suspected fraud involved liaison and coordination with investigators in numerous disciplines (loss adjusters, investigators, forensic accountants, financial advisers and business analysts), and advising primary and re-insurers

  • Successful resolution on behalf of health & life insurer of very contentious proceedings commenced by high profile media identity, who repeatedly threatened insurer with adverse media coverage – which had the risk of causing significant reputational damage;

  • Acting for health & life insurer in $6m suspected fraud where proceedings had been commenced, which involved multiple jurisdictions and exhaustive investigation

  • Acting for real estate firms on numerous leaky building claims involving multiplexes

  • Successfully mitigating sentence to minimum level imposed on international engineering firm in a HSE prosecution concerning failure to maintain lift services at major Auckland transport terminus

  • Acting for client on major fraud scheme ('mortgage ramping') including identifying how the frauds occurred, and liaison with NZ Police/Crown prosecutors

  • Complete re-drafting of retail health & life policy wordings being offered to the NZ market on behalf of off-shore insurance syndicate

  • Complete re-drafting of re-insurance treaties for off-shore reinsurer following Canterbury earthquakes

  • Successfully resolving claims against financial advisers/fund managers where there had been defalcation of trust funds

  • Successfully defending real estate agents facing disciplinary charges in the Real Estate Agents' Disciplinary Tribunal

Recent Articles


COVID-19 Am I insured for this?

In this article we canvas COVID-19 issues with personal insurances; Travel, Health, Life and Income Protection Insurance. 

Keep reading...


The proof is in the pudding or, in this case, petrol on the shoe

Angus & Erksine-Shaw v Ace Insurance Ltd & lloyds' underwriters (ak hc, cooper j, 24/2/14) Justice Cooper (who wrote the Crystal Imports decision) is certainly making his mark as far as insurance law. In his decision in Angus & Erskine v ACE Insurance & Lloyds' Underwriters of 24 February 2014, he engaged in an exhaustive analysis of an arson / attempted fraud on the insurers.

Keep reading...


The ongoing debate concerning automatic reinstatement memoranda in material damage covers

Crystal Imports v Certain Underwriters at Lloyds & Sirius International Insurance (Ak Hc, Cooper J, 19/12/13) A further decision was released by the Auckland High Court late last year (Cooper J) regarding the effect of automatic reinstatement of the sum insured clauses in material damage (MD) policy wordings in the context of Christchurch earthquake claims. The decision addressed similar issues to those previously considered by the High Court in Wild South Holdings v QBE Insurance and the Court of Appeal in Ridgecrest v IAG.

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Wyatt v Real Estate Agents Authority [2012] 25 NZTC 20-152

  • Garnett v Tower Insurance Ltd [2011] 17 ANZ Ins Cas 61-918

  • Hamid v England (2011) 12 NZCPR 844, [2011] 13 TCLR 376

  • Fidelity Life Assurance Co Ltd v Pilkington [2010] 16 ANZ Ins Cas 90-144

  • Department of Labour v P F Olsen & Co Ltd [2003] DCR 196


  • Life and Disability Underwriters Association

  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association (NZILA)

  • Life Accident Disability Underwriters Claims Association (LADUCA)
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