Five minutes with…Auckland barrister Steve Keall

Five minutes with…Auckland barrister Steve Keall | Insurance Business

Five minutes with…Auckland barrister Steve Keall
Steve Keall, an experienced civil and commercial disputes lawyer, is a specialist on the insurance industry.

Having qualified as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand, and as a solicitor in England, he now practises as a barrister in Auckland and says it is his great pleasure to receive instruction from brokers, individuals and corporate policyholders.

“I advise on coverage and provide representation and advocacy as required,” he says. “And even though I’m a litigator, a minority of my time is spent in court as the litigator’s time reflects the modern practice and reality that most disputes that can be settled out of court and are in fact settled out of court.”

As to becoming a barrister, Keall says it has been a challenging but rewarding career path that has brought him independence and freedom but also the necessity of ensuring he does not become isolated in his day-to-day work and thinking.

“I have the great pleasure of having several reliable and slightly more grey-haired figures I can call upon to run things past if I need to,” he says.

And one thing that is clear to him and his grey-haired brethren is that one of the main long-term issues facing the insurance industry is adapting to technological change.

“On one level this will involve many products being distributed on substantially automated internet platforms. This is already occurring globally and will occur to an ever-increasing extent in New Zealand,” he says.

Keall explains that at the other end of the scale there is the possibility of peer-to-peer models where a non-insurer provides a platform and market participants, against agreed rules, fund the risk pool.

“Both of these situations require us to rethink how insurance should be regulated,” he notes. “Personal service will remain valuable but will be confined to situations where it is truly needed. However you cast it, profound change is inevitable.”

And even though Keall concerns himself with these pressing questions, in the past he has enjoyed other preoccupations.

“For several years I played bass guitar and provided intermittent    backing vocals in a band called Genghis Cohen,” he laughs. “We didn’t achieve great success, but it gave me a valuable appreciation for the time and hard work that goes into any kind of performance, even a fairly amateur one.

“Anything made to look easy is inversely related to how bloody hard it is. Some aspects of stage performance are similar to advocacy, although young players would be well advised to avoid rhyming, or indeed any form of singing when addressing the court.”

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