image of Chris ErfurtChris Erfurt

Clayton Utz Partner , Brisbane T +61 7 3292 7799

Chris is a commercial litigator who has specialist experience in crisis management, regulatory investigations and prosecutions, complex remediation programs and other novel ADR processes, and environmental, contractual and insurance disputes.

Chris also advises clients on insurance and liability risk, including directors' and officers' risk and indemnity, financial lines insurance (including D&O, PI and Cyber), property damage and business interruption insurance, and major projects and contracts.

Chris is a trusted adviser to various corporate and government clients nationally and is valued for his ability to provide clear and succinct advice addressing complex problems.

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Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Hastie Group Limited: Chris acted for a former COO of a subsidiary of the collapsed Hastie Group Limited in defence of three criminal charges comprising two charges of conspiracy to falsify company books, and one charge of conspiracy to mislead auditors, under the Corporations Act. An eight-week trial in Sydney concluded in July 2019 with the judge directing the jury to enter a verdict of not guilty in respect of every charge.

Macarthur Minerals Limited: Chris acts for a director and officer of the company in defence of a misleading and deceptive conduct claim and a director and two former directors in defence of a shareholder oppression claim. The misleading and deceptive conduct claim (commenced in 2016) was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2019 (this decision is presently the subject of appeal) and the shareholder oppression claim (commenced in 2012) was struck out and stayed in 2013, and has not been prosecuted since.

US manufacturers: Chris recently acted on behalf of multiple large US industrial manufacturers in defence of claims by an Australian resident for personal injury arising from alleged asbestos exposure. The claim against one of the manufacturers was the largest asbestos claim ever made against them. Chris worked closely with US lawyers and the matter was resolved successfully for the clients in both jurisdictions.

Queensland Government: Chris regularly acts for the State of Queensland in complex contentious matters. A claim for the recovery of costs to repair damage to State-owned property caused by the crash and explosion of a truck carrying ammonium nitrate was successfully resolved ahead of trial in late 2019. Current matters include various substantial claims in relation to various major projects by contractors, by landowners and against insurers.

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Investigations and Crisis Management

COVID-19 response: Chris has or is providing advice to various corporate and government clients in relation to issues arising out of the COVID-19 crisis, including force majeure advice, contractual disputes and business interruption insurance.

ASIC and APRA regulatory matters: The Hastie litigation mentioned above was preceded by an ASIC investigation against, and liquidator's examination involving, the client. Chris also acts for major banks and financial institutions in relation to various current ASIC and APRA supervision, investigation and enforcement matters, and is well-versed in the recent and impending legislative changes flowing from the Banking Royal Commission.

Complex remediation programs: Chris is advising the CBA and AMP in relation to their large-scale customer review and remediation programs, which are the largest of their type in Australia. Chris is also assisting to advise religious and educational institutions on their response to historical child abuse claims.

Commissions of inquiry: Chris was part of the team acting for the CBA in relation to the Banking Royal Commission, and continues to act for CBA in respect of referrals made to ASIC and APRA by the Commissioner. Chris also recently acted for directors and officers of Queensland Rail in respect of the Queensland Rail commissions of inquiry and for Racing Queensland in respect of the racing commissions of inquiry.

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Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation

Brisbane Airport Corporation: Chris acts for Brisbane Airport Corporation in an environmental nuisance and contractual claim against Airservices Australia, including proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland, regarding PFAS contamination. Chris has also advised BAC in relation to other contentious and regulatory matters arising of use of PFAS by tenants at the Airport.

Other airport operators: Chris is presently advising two other airport operators in relation to the use of PFAS by tenants at their airports. 

Industrial Galvanizers Corporation: Chris acted for this Australian subsidiary of a large US manufacturer in defence of an environmental nuisance claim by an ASX-listed entity and two of its subsidiaries. The matter was successfully resolved at trial in 2019.

Asbestos: Chris has experience acting for manufacturers, property owners and employers in relation to asbestos liability issues, including the litigation involving US manufacturers mentioned above.

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Insurance and Risk

Cross-River Rail: Chris is advising the Delivery Authority in relation to various insurance and risk issues in respect of this $5.4 billion project.

Other major projects: Chris is either advising or has recently advised the State of Queensland in relation to insurance and risk issues (both front-end and back-end) associated with the 2018 Commonwealth Games Village, Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and Airport Link. Chris also recently advised the NT government on contractual risk allocation and insurance for the Northern Gas Pipeline, and Brisbane Airport Corporation on insurance and risk issues associated with the construction of the New Parallel Runway.

D&O risk and insurance and indemnity arrangements: Chris regularly advises corporate and government clients or their directors and officers on their risk profile and insurance and indemnity arrangements, both generally and in relation to specific matters.

Insurance policy reviews: Chris regularly advises corporate and government clients in relation to their full suite of insurance policies or specific insurances. Chris has a particular focus on financial lines, (including D&O, Professional Indemnity and Cyber), third party liability and property damage/business interruption insurance.

Corporate transactions: Chris regularly advises corporate clients on insurance and indemnity arrangements in relation to sales and acquisitions, including warranty and indemnity insurance, D&O run-off insurance and other transitional arrangements.

Insolvency matters: Chris regularly acts for liquidators and other insolvency practitioners to assist to trigger and recover from available insurances in insolvency. He acted for the liquidators of Lehman Brothers Australia Limited on successful insurance claims arising from the collapse of the multinational investment bank during the sub-prime mortgage fallout and GFC, including a scheme of arrangement to distribute the insurance proceeds. More recent major matters include LM Investment Management Limited and the JM Kelly group of companies.

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