James Neal

Admitted to the Bar 2001

James has 23 years of experience at the bar. Prior to that, he worked at Minter Ellison, mostly acting for professionals (primarily in the building industry, such as architects and engineers) who had been sued by plaintiffs alleging professional negligence.

He is a leading counsel in the fields of professional negligence, particularly in relation to claims involving construction industry professionals; building and construction, and insurance. He was included in the 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 Editions of Best Lawyers in Australia. He is also listed in Doyles Guide. He regularly acts as lead counsel or unled in claims involving large sums of money.

Early in his career at the Bar, he acted for one of the architects involved in the design and construction of the Olympic Swimming Pool at Homebush in a long-running reference. He also acted for the architect involved in additions to the Museum of Contemporary Art. He was lead counsel for the structural engineer in the Opal Tower Class Action in the Supreme Court of NSW, and in the Federal Court proceedings concerning insurance issues, in which the structural engineer was successful1.  He is lead counsel for the geotechnical engineer in the Gateway Bridge Upgrade dispute in the Supreme Court of Queensland, and lead counsel for a facade contractor in a claim for approximately $90 million concerning Aluminium Composite Panels. He was counsel for the structural engineer in the Mascot Towers dispute. He acted for the fire engineer in the Federal Court class action concerning ‘Alucobond’ ACPs.

He is currently acting unled for:

(a) a sub-contractor in a claim for approximately $50 million by the Australian National University in the ACT Supreme Court arising out of flooding in 2018;

(b) one of the professional consultants in a claim for approximately $50 million in relation to the One Circular Quay project;

(c) the fire engineer in a dispute concerning ACP at the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

He is also acting for an engineering design joint venture in a $300 million claim relating to the North West Rail Project.

James has significant experience in claims concerning ACP, acting for owners, design and construct contractors, architects, fire engineers, facade engineers and facade contractors.

James also regularly acts in professional negligence cases involving other professionals, including, for example, accountants, financial advisers, insurance brokers, solicitors, managing agents and medical professionals. He acts in representative proceedings, and appeared for the dam operator in the representative proceedings arising out of the 2011 floods in south-east Queensland.

James practises extensively in the fields of building and construction, and insurance. In building and construction matters, James has acted for builders, developers, owners (including many owners’ corporations in strata plan matters), architects (including landscape architects), engineers (including civil, structural, geotechnical, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, lift and fire safety), pre-purchase building inspectors, tunnelling designers and contractors, homeowners warranty insurers, and waste services contractors.

James also has significant experience in insurance, particularly professional indemnity insurance.  He appeared in a significant insurance case dealing with the concept of ‘recoupment’. He is currently acting for an insurer against the insurer of Airbnb on a claim for ‘recoupment’. James advises and appears for local and foreign insurers both as defence counsel as well as in relation to coverage issues.

James also has significant experience in general commercial law, and in common law cases involving property damage or pure economic loss, including fire cases. He has acted for companies based overseas, including a Supreme Court case for a French manufacturer of artificial ligaments, and has appeared at coronial inquests. James has argued a number of cases, unled, in appellate courts.

  1. See WSP Structures Pty Ltd v Liberty Mutual Insurance Company [2023] FCA 1157.



James Neal

Delivery Address: Level 9, 180 Phillip Street Sydney NSW 2000

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