LAWCOMM 720 - Law of Insurance Contracts

Lecturer biography

Rob Merkin teaches the Insurance Law elective on the LLM. Rob is Lloyd’s Professor of Commercial Law at the University of Exeter and special counsel to Duncan Cotterill. His teaching and research interests are all aspects of insurance, including marine, motor and reinsurance, and arbitration. He has published a number of books on these subjects, including Colinvaux and Merkin's Law of InsuranceSutton’s Law of Insurance in Australia and Arbitration Law. At the end of 2017 he published, with Chris Nicoll, the second edition of the text Colinvaux’s Law of Insurance in New Zealand. The first edition, published in 2015, has been cited by the New Zealand courts on a number of occasions.

Rob is co-editor of the Lloyd's Law Reports, editor of the Journal of Business Law and a member of the editorial board of the New Zealand Business Law Quarterly. He also edits Insurance Law Monthly and Arbitration Law Monthly. He is on the arbitral panels of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.

Rob was a consultant to the English and Scottish Law Commissions for their project on insurance contract law reform 2006-2016. He was Vice-President and then President of the British Insurance Law Association from 2009 to 2012 and has been Vice-President of the International Association of Insurance Law since 2010. In 2010 he received a prize from the Australian Insurance Law Association for his contribution to insurance law and education in Australia, and in May 2012 he was appointed as the Sir Eric Hotung Visiting Fellow by the University of Canterbury and delivered a series of lectures on the insurance and reinsurance issues arising from the Christchurch earthquakes. Rob was Parliamentary adviser on the Insurance Act 2015 (UK). He became a QC honoris causa in February 2015.

Course outline

This course will review the operation of insurance law in New Zealand. The existing position is derived from common law principles that remain operative in other common law jurisdictions, notably England and Australia, but modified by different forms of legislative intervention in all three jurisdictions. The course will consider whether the position reached in New Zealand, in particular following reform in 1977, remains appropriate in the light of market, judicial and legislative developments. The course will also devote a good deal of attention to the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes on the law, demonstrating how New Zealand has found itself in the unaccustomed position of laying down legal principles on previously unresolved topics, thereby influencing and clarifying the law in other common law jurisdictions.


The insurance market; regulation of insurers; formation of insurance contracts; insurable interest; utmost good faith; conditions and warranties; measure of indemnity; claims; subrogation and contribution.


At the end of the course students will be able to identify and analyse the key issues that arise in insurance disputes, and be aware of the defects in the insurance law of New Zealand.


  • 100% research essay of 12,500 words due 12pm Thursday 10 January 2019

Course details

Semester: Two
Type: Intensive
Points: 30
Dates: 24-30 October 2018
Time: 9am-5pm
Venue: Building 810, Room 3.40
1-11 Short Street
Assessment due date: by 12 noon 10 January 2019

Contact details

Postgraduate Student Adviser
Law Student Centre
evel 2, 1-11 Short Street