Background and Qualifications
Sean Mullins received his schooling in South Africa where he also obtained his tertiary qualifications. In 1971 he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and thereafter in 1974 he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws Degree (Cum Laude). He was awarded the Scott Somerville Bursary in 1973, for achievements in his first two years of study, and upon completion of his studies he was awarded the Connor Memorial Prize for the best part-time law student.
He was admitted as an Attorney of the South African Supreme Court in 1975 and thereafter practised as an Attorney, specialising in Insurance Law for a period of some 10 years. During that period, he was also appointed as a Senior Lecturer in the Law Faculty at the Natal University in Durban where he taught for a period of four years.
He emigrated to Australia in November 1985.
Since his arrival in Western Australia, Sean has practised mainly in the area of Insurance Law, specialising in Professional Indemnity Insurance, Directors and Officers Insurance and Construction, Machinery Breakdown and Business Interruption Insurance.
He commenced employment with the predecessor firm of Minter Ellison in 1985 and after his admission as an Australian practitioner in December :1986; he was admitted as a partner in the firm, in February 1988.
Sean was a partner in Minter Ellison, Perth for 12 years, until he resigned to start his own firm in September 2000. During that time he was Head of Minter Ellison's Insurance Division, and supervised its growth from a minor practice into a substantial one, employing approximately 17 solicitors.
Whilst he was Head of the Insurance Division at Minter Ellison, Sean delivered numerous seminars to members of the West Australian Law Society, as well as Insurance Professionals. He served as a Committee Member of the Insurance Institute for five years where after he was elected President of that organisation during his sixth year. He was a founder member of Lawyers Engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution (LEADR) and one of the first mediators accredited by that organisation in Western Australia. Sean has coached aspiring mediators at LEADR mediation training courses for approximately five years.
In the year 2000 Sean resigned from Minter Ellison and started his own firm, Mullins Handcock. By this time Sean had established an Australia-wide reputation in the field of professional indemnity insurance. In 2003 Sean was one of only two Western Australian lawyers mentioned in ‘Legal Who’s Who’ Australia 2003, as being exceptional performers in the area of Insurance Law.
In 2006 Sean merged his practice with Jackson McDonald.
In 2011 and 2012 in the annual publications by Chambers & Partners, ‘Asia – Pacific’s Leading Lawyers for Business: A Clients’ Guide’, Sean was mentioned each year as a ‘‘notable practitioner’, in the Insurance Area. He was the only West Australian to receive this accolade in this area.
Whilst teaching at the University of Natal, Sean taught Company Law, Insolvency, Conflict of Law and Insurance Law. Sean also assisted in the operation of the Legal Aid Clinic, and developed a practical course in Civil Procedure for law students undertaking the Legal Aid course.
In his capacity as a Committee Member for the Insurance Institute during the years 1993 to 1999, Sean was the Chairman of the Educational Sub-committee and was responsible for organising, and on occasion presenting, the monthly seminars which were provided for industry members.
During the same period he also taught Insurance Law to LLB students at the University of Western Australia.
Area of Practice
Sean has substantial experience in all areas of Professional Indemnity and Directors and Officers Insurance. He has also practised extensively in the areas of Construction and Engineering Insurance, including Mechanical Breakdown, Property and Business Interruption insurance. He has acted for practically all major insurers in Australia in the fields referred to above, and to a lesser extent, he has represented insurers from England and the United States.
As a result of acting on behalf of a wide-range of professionals such as Lawyers, Doctors, Nurses, Accountants, Engineers, Real Estate Agents, Insurance Brokers and the like, as well as their Insurers in claims litigation, Sean has acquired vast experience in Commercial Litigation. The subject matter of this litigation has often been negligence, but has frequently included such other areas as Breach of Contract, Contravention of Consumer Legislation, Property Law, Company Law and the Law of Trusts.
By reason of professionals frequently belonging to professional associations, with their applicable Codes of Conduct, Sean has represented Insureds in many Administrative Tribunals ranging from the Real Estate Agents’ Disciplinary Tribunal to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- Supermarket or Super Trap: An analysis of the Simplex Commendatio in Modern Society' August 1984 South African Law Journal
- Assistant Editor 'Henochsberg on the Companies Act', 4th Edition, published by Butterworths
- Conducting an Action on behalf of an Insurer in the name of the Insured (A Case for Schizophrenia)' 1991 Insurance Law Journal (Australia)
- Insurance Indemnities and Contractual Indemnities: a distinction without a difference? [2012 Insurance Law Journal 158]
- The Insurance Lawyers Tightrope: Acting for the Insurer and the Insured" 2013 Insurance Law Journal
May 1991: ‘Acting for the Insurer and Insured’ - Law Society Seminar
March 1998: ‘Insurers suing in the name of their Insureds on a Contractual Indemnity Clause: Subrogation or Contribution?’ - AILA Seminar
March 1999: ‘One or more Claims: The Insured’s Excess and Multiple Excesses’ - Law Mutual Panel Solicitors’ Meeting
August 1999: ‘Directors and Officers Insurance, and the effect of the Statutory Corporations (Liability of Directors) Act 1996’ - WAPAA Seminar
August 1999: ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance and Risk Management’ - Seminar for Building Designers’ Association
May 2000: ‘The ‘ELF’ Appeal. The Decision and its Practical Effects for Insurers’ - AILA Seminar
July 2001: ‘Problems Emerging for Claims and Insurance Cover in relation to Professional Indemnity and other Policies by reason of the HIH Collapse’ - Law Society Seminar
November 2003: ‘Contracts and Understanding Liability Risks on Recoveries’ - West Australian Insurance Institute Seminar
July 2009: ‘Is a Directors and Officers Policy Worth the Paper it’s Written On?’ - AILA Seminar
March 2014: "Directors and Officers Liability Update." - Legalwise Seminars