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Keira Nelson is an experienced litigator and has assisted many airlines, aviation insurers and other operators to get the best results. Keira graduated from a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology, Sydney with first class honours and the University Medal in 2009. She has been practicing as a solicitor at Norton White since graduating. She has extensive experience in resolving issues relevant to the aviation industry including in the following areas:


  • Advising airline and insurer clients on liability and quantum issues relating to passenger and cargo claims;
  • Advising insurers on indemnity issues including breaches of policy terms, acts falling outside the scope of policy coverage and failures to disclose material information or act in accordance with the duty of good faith;
  • Acting in litigation relating to insurance disputes including issues relating to double insurance, joinder of insurers directly to proceedings and indemnity issues; and
  • Advising on drafting of policy wording, particularly in light of Australian legislative requirements.

Key cases:

  • Lambert Leasing Inc v QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited in which it was held that QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited was not liable to indemnify Lambert Leasing. The case was heard in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the Court of Appeal and on a special leave application to the High Court.
  • QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited v Hotchin and Down in which an anti suit injunction was granted to permanently restrain the estates of two pilots claiming indemnity on a policy of insurance issued by QBE.

+Passenger and Cargo Claims

  • Advising airline and insurer clients on liability and quantum issues relating to passenger and cargo claims;
  • Acting on behalf of airline and insurer clients to resolve or contest claims brought in respect of injury or death of passengers, damage or loss of cargo and lost baggage, including accidents involving multiple fatalities and catastrophic injuries; and
  • Assisting clients with submissions regarding jurisdictional issues arising in aviation claims brought in Tribunals like the NCAT and VCAT.

Key cases:

  • Modern Mustering Pty Ltd & Ors v Cook in which it was held that a helicopter operator did not have any liability in respect of an injured passenger. The case was heard in the Northern Territory Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and on a special leave application to the High Court.
  • Qantas Airways Limited v Lustig and De Simone in which the Federal Court of Australia held that the VCAT did not have jurisdiction to determine a claim arising out of events which occurred on an interstate flight.

+Aviation Regulatory

  • Advising operator clients on regulatory issues including responding to regulatory concerns, obtaining relevant approvals and structuring organisations in a way which complies with regulatory requirements.
  • Taking urgent steps to restrain regulatory action to prevent grounding of operator fleets.
  • When necessary, acting in litigation to restrain unlawful regulatory action or to have regulatory decisions reviewed.

    Key case:

  • Lloyd Helicopters Pty Ltd v Civil Aviation Safety Authority which involved a judicial review of a decision by CASA to cancel an exemption allowing the operator to use a fatigue risk management system. The matter was resolved on the basis that the cancellation decision was set aside and CASA paid the operator’s costs.

+Competition and Trade

  • Advising industry participants on issues arising under competition legislation including codeshare arrangements and exclusivity requirements in agreements;
  • Conducting organisational training on compliance with legislation;
  • Assisting clients to obtain ACCC and FIRB approvals to permit acquisitions or mergers; and
  • Defending proceedings brought by the ACCC for breach of competition legislation.


T: +61 2 9230 9440