Alison Padfield QC is a barrister specialising in commercial dispute resolution. She has particular expertise in insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence, and professional conduct and discipline. Alison has appeared in courts at all levels including the Supreme Court, and in arbitrations/expert determination, and has represented clients at mediation. Alison also accepts appointments as an arbitrator.
Alison has been ranked in the legal directories in her specialist areas of practice for many years, including a Band 1 ranking as a junior in Insurance and Reinsurance in Chambers UK. She is the author of Insurance Claims (Bloomsbury Professional, 4th edition, 2016), a specialist text on insurance law including insurance brokers’ negligence.
Chambers UK 2019 says that Alison is ‘particularly noted for her methodical and meticulous approach. She handles insurance and reinsurance arbitrations as well as litigation. Her practice is evenly split between claimant and defendant work. “An expert in the insurance field.” “An effective advocate who is accessible and user-friendly.” “Exceptionally bright and an absolute joy to work with.”’
Legal 500 2018 says about Alison: ‘Intellectually outstanding, extremely knowledgeable; great on tactics, always client focused and extremely commercial in her approach’ (Professional Negligence), ‘Exudes intellectual and personal integrity; her promotion to silk was overdue’ (Commercial Litigation), and ‘A go-to barrister for insurance cases and her text book on insurance claims is the most user friendly on the market’ (Insurance and Reinsurance).
Alison’s recent court work includes an appearance in the Supreme Court in O’Connor v Bar Standards Board  1 WLR 4833, appearances in the Court of Appeal in Aspen Insurance UK Ltd v Adana Construction Ltd  Lloyd’s Rep IR 511 (with Colin Wynter QC) and in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal (with Colin Edelman QC) in Teal Assurance Co Ltd v W R Berkley Insurance (Europe) Ltd  Lloyd’s Rep IR 56 and  Lloyd’s Rep IR 259, and an appearance in the Divisional Court in Dorairaj v Bar Standards Board  EWHC2762 (Admin).
Alison is recognised as a leading specialist in insurance and reinsurance. She is frequently asked to advise on insurance issues relating to high profile cases, such as the ‘toxic sofa’ litigation and the fresh inquests into the Hillsborough disaster. Alison has extensive experience of advising and representing insurers and policyholders, and claimants under the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Acts 1930 and 2010, in all aspects of insurance and reinsurance disputes, and across all types of non-marine cover. Her recent experience includes material damage and business interruption insurance, public and product liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, directors’ and officers’ (D&O) and trustees’ liability cover, employers’ liability insurance policies, commercial combined policies, contractors’ all risk (CAR) policies, contractors’ combined policies, legal expenses insurance, private medical insurance, and accident, life, permanent health (PHI) and critical illness insurance, and non-party costs orders against insurers under s 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981. She is involved in all aspects of insurance claims, both under the common law and under the Insurance Act 2015, and involving subrogation, double insurance, and related issues such as compensation for breach of ICOBS under s 138D/150 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Alison has significant expertise in professional negligence claims. She has particular experience in insurance and reinsurance brokers’ negligence claims which include cross-over insurance or reinsurance issues. She also has experience of claims for wasted costs against legal representatives under s 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981, and of applications for civil restraint orders under CPR PD 3C.
Alison has extensive knowledge of professional conduct and disciplinary issues involving barristers and solicitors. She has almost 20 years’ experience of appearing in the Bar’s Disciplinary Tribunal, in appeals to the Visitors of the Inns of Court and the Administrative Court, and in related civil proceedings including for judicial review, misfeasance and under the Human Rights Act. She also has significant knowledge of the law of contempt. She appeared for a director of Autofocus Ltd in Accident Exchange Ltd v George-Broom & Others  EWHC 1530 (Admin), contempt of court proceedings arising out of witness statements and reports by Autofocus Ltd for insurers defending credit hire claims.
Alison’s commercial litigation practice is wide-ranging, including claims for damages for breach of commercial agreements, such as contracts for the sale of goods or supply of services, directors’ duties, shareholder and partnership disputes and claims involving the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993. She also has extensive experience of insurance and reinsurance claims and professional liability claims in a commercial and construction context.
Alison is instructed on cases within her areas of expertise which have cross-over employment and discrimination aspects, due to her many years’ experience in these areas in the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal at an earlier stage in her career. This included advising and representing the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis in a series of high profile race and religious discrimination claims brought by senior officers and staff.
For more detailed information about Alison’s practice, please view the specialist sections under ‘Areas of Expertise’ below.
Previous recognition in legal directories and awards
Chambers UK 2018 ranked Alison in Band 1 for Insurance: ‘Recognised as “a go-to junior for insurance claims interpretations and policy questions.” She is experienced in both insurance and professional negligence cases and is particularly noted for her methodical and meticulous approach. She handles insurance and reinsurance arbitrations as well as litigation. “An effective advocate, who is accessible and user-friendly.” “She is delightful and extremely knowledgeable.”’
Legal 500 2017 says about Alison: ‘Calm, measured, robust and responsive; her advice is invaluable’ (Commercial Litigation), ‘Intellectually very able, extremely knowledgeable on case law, great attention to detail and always prepared’ (Professional Negligence), and ‘Unflappable, attentive to detail and an absolute pleasure to work with’ (Insurance and Reinsurance).
In Insurance, Chambers UK 2017 said about Alison: ‘A very highly thought-of junior who is “just a joy to work with” and experienced in both insurance and professional negligence cases. She is noted for her methodical and meticulous approach.’ “She is outstandingly user-friendly: nothing I put her way seems to floor her. Always calm and in control, she’s good at rolling up her sleeves and making you feel you’re all in this together.” “Technically brilliant and with an eye for detail.”’
Alison’s key publication is Insurance Claims (Bloomsbury Professional, 4th edition, 2016), a specialist text on insurance law including insurance brokers’ negligence:
‘It is extremely welcome to find a book addressing the law of insurance in which clear and succinct answers can readily be found’ – from Colin Edelman QC’s Foreword to the 3rd edition
‘Alison Padfield’s book … has admirably combined brevity with clarity of exposition … an excellent book’ – from a review by Professor Robert Merkin of the first edition in the Journal of Business Law
Alison is also a regular contributor to publications on insurance law. She co-authored Informa’s Insurance Law in 2017: a year in review with Miles Harris, and some of her published articles are available to download here. Alison also writes the Chaffanbrass commercial law blog.
Alison’s most recent published article was with Diarmuid Laffan for the New Law Journal on the obligations of SIPP providers after R (Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Ltd) v Financial Ombudsman Service Ltd.
Alison is frequently asked to give seminars and lectures on insurance law. She recently gave a lecture to the British Insurance Law Association on non-party costs orders against insurers under s 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (No limits? Non-party costs orders against insurers; 20 July 2018).
Recent notable court and arbitration appearances
- Dorairaj v Bar Standards Board  EWHC2762 (Admin) – whether breach by regulator of complaints rules deprived disciplinary tribunal of jurisdiction
- W R Berkley Insurance (Europe) Ltd v Teal Assurance Co Ltd  Lloyd’s Rep IR 259, CA – reinsurance – whether payment into escrow account ascertained insured’s loss under underlying liability policy
- O’Connor v Bar Standards Board  UKSC 78 – time limits and indirect race discrimination claim under Human Rights Act 1998
- Aspen Insurance UK Ltd v Adana Construction Ltd  Lloyd’s Rep IR 511, CA (with Colin Wynter QC) – claim involving construction of public liability and product liability wordings and their inter-relationship in a combined contractors’ liability policy
- R (Prescott) v Bar Council  EWHC 1919 (Admin) – public law challenge relating to the BPTC Handbook and its application
- A Company v D&O Insurers (2014) (with Colin Edelman QC) – successful defence of claim against insurers under policy of D&O insurance at two-day arbitration hearing – details are confidential
- Herridge v Parker & Allianz Insurance Plc  Lloyd’s Rep IR 177 – defence of application for costs against after the event (ATE) insurer as non-party under s 51(3) of the Senior Courts Act 1981; first reported case involving such an application against an ATE insurer
- Teal Assurance Co Ltd v W R Berkley Insurance (Europe) Ltd  Lloyd’s Rep IR 56, SC (with Colin Edelman QC) – reinsurance case in Supreme Court concerning the order in which claims made by an insured exhaust layers of liability insurance cover and related Commercial Court proceedings