Throughout his professional career Henrik has focused on the defence of liabilities. In 1989, he started his professional career as head of section with the Danish Insurance Complaints Board and for the past 22 years he has been with Kammeradvokaten/Poul Schmith to which he is Partner. He heads the firm’s team of specialists in the field of insurance, tort and compensation and below he explains the cases he is often involved in, and changes occurring in Denmark.
What does your team do?
We have a very strong team of specialists in the field of insurance, tort and compensation. Our focus is both litigation and counselling. We represent the public authorities in litigation, primarily reviews of government orders and other claims for damages. We also assist insurance companies and insurance brokers and other corporate clients. Furthermore, we have created a corporate network for the insurance sector including insurance companies and insurance brokers for the exchange of experience and current subjects which we call “Forum for forsikringsbranchen” (Forum for the Insurance Sector).
In the cases that we are involved in, we assist the clients formulating a strategy for the actual trial if our recommendation is that we should go to trial. After the trial, we also act proactively by assisting the clients prevent similar claims. We may advise the client to accept the claim that has been raised and to avoid the trial or to solve the matter in another way, perhaps by mediation. Our team also have an extensive network that we collaborate with both inside our firm in other practice areas and outside the firm.
Please mention some of the cases of public importance that you have recently conducted in the area.
As co-counsel, Henrik and his team of insurance lawyers represent a team of international insurance companies in two major court cases regarding an oilrig in the North Sea. The total claim is approx. NOK 6.5bn. One being an appeal case before the Eastern High Court of Denmark regarding coverage according to an all-risk insurance policy. The other is a first instance City Court case regarding the defence of liability due to business conduct and being of general public interest, the City Court has been asked to consider referring the case to the Eastern High Court. They co-operate with Henrik’s former colleague Michael S. Wiisbye and his team of insurance lawyers from Nielsen Nørager as well as leading law firms in the UK and in Norway.
The firm represents Banedanmark, the Danish Railway Agency in different cases, including cases regarding damage to the railway infrastructure and to the railway bridges caused by collision with the structure. Recently, Henrik and his team of tort and compensation lawyers have conducted in arbitration proceedings, as well as before the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court in two cases brought by a Danish insurance company, and a Danish railway company regarding damage to a Danish railway bridge and delays of and disruption to the railway traffic. They have also appeared before the Supreme Court in two cases brought by a Danish insurance company and a Danish railway company and one of the engine drivers regarding the collision of two trains causing damage to both the trains and the railway infrastructure, as well as personal injury to the passengers. These cases are highly complex and involves difficult questions regarding state liability and they are of a significance due the nature of the damage and the matter value, and sets a precedent for other cases.
Which types of advice do you provide?
Being in a competitive legal market we aim to both influence the development and be at the forefront. By having this approach to the market, it is important for us to be on top of all aspect within the field of litigation, arbitration and mediation so that we are able to provide advice on the possibilities and challenges on the cases within our field of industry.
Dispute resolution and the supervision and counselling of cases takes up a lot of our time, both nationally and internationally. When acting in the field insurance, tort and compensation it is important for us to be able to understand both the industry and the political context in which the clients and the counterparts are acting. In some cases, the best advice is to try to avoid legal actions either by settlement or by accepting the claim. The next step is to understand why it went wrong and how to avoid the next claim: could the policy be written differently? Should the safety policy be rewritten? What about risk management? It is preventive advice that is often the result of a decision or the solution to a case.
Litigation funding is becoming more popular in other countries around the world. In Denmark it is still something new, maybe due to the fact that the Danish State in certain cases and subject to certain conditions, offers free legal assistance and that Danish insurance companies offer legal expenses insurance. However, we expect that this type of solution will catch on, also in Denmark. Due to the approach of the market, we are able to provide advice on the possibilities and challenges when acting for or against clients having their case financed by litigation funders.
Another part of our assistance to the insurance sector is tender processes where we bring on board specialists from our tender teams. More and more often, we help insurance brokers put insurance schemes up for tender. We also assist clients on InsureTech and matters related to the insurance sector, including personal data, marketing and consumer law.
The fact that we have such extensive litigation experience acquired from many cases that are often very heavy on facts means that we are trained to manage investigative processes and uncover whether there is any basis for raising a claim.
What is your view on the digital developments in the legal area?
There is no doubt that technology and artificial intelligence will play a major role for lawyers in future and indeed for everyone facing the law. Not only us as attorneys but also legislators, authorities, private enterprises and citizens. The new technology opens for completely new options for attorneys and their clients. In a near future, robots or computers, may take over some of the legal work, hopefully leaving the lawyers to spend more time on handling the most complex legal issues.
It is our goal to support and improve legal processes by using digitalisation. Therefore, we are developing digital tools for our clients in the public and private sectors so that they can reach their targets in respect of their legal challenges and needs faster, cheaper and easier. Recently, we have launched digital solutions in the areas of personal data and bankruptcy and right now, we are working on making legal actions even more digital.
Henrik Nedergaard Thomsen
Direct +45 72 30 73 30
Mobile +45 20 45 10 65
About Henrik Nedergaard Thomsen
Copenhagen-based lawyer Henrik Nedergaard Thomsen, partner of Kammeradvokaten/Poul Schmith and certified arbitrator, is focused on litigation, arbitration and mediation. For more than two decades he has acted for private companies and public authorities. His practice is focused upon insurance, tort and compensation in relation to the defence of liabilities, be it coverage, subrogation, professional liability, product liability and public insurance schemes, as well as planning and implementation of insurance programmes national and international. Consumer law, patents and trademarks are also topics on his desk. He has conducted a considerable number of cases before the Danish Courts including more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court and he has a number of Danish leading cases to his credit. He handles some of the firm’s biggest and most complex cases. “Yet it may never become a routine to appear in court,” he says and he continues, “Always having regard to the specific case and never lose track on its impact and importance to other cases. One should aim not only for the right outcome of the specific case. One should also feel that the outcome is the right one.”
The firm profile
In recent years Kammeradvokaten/Poul Schmith has grown to become one of the biggest and leading law firms in Denmark with more than 500 employees. They are a full-service law firm and hire only the most talented lawyers in Denmark.
The firm is the main legal advisor to the Danish Government which gives a deep understanding of the of the industry and the political environment in which all of the firm’s clients operate. The firm has been counsel to the Danish Government since 1936, representing the Danish State and other public bodies in numerous high-profile cases, regularly appearing before the Supreme Court. The firm is consistently involved in about two-thirds of all the cases before the Danish courts.
In addition, the firm is also advising private Danish and international clients. The number of the firm’s corporate clients is increasing. In recent years the firm has made a strategic move to increase its market share on the market for corporate clients and is already experiencing an increased demand for services from corporate clients nationally as well as internationally.