Following New Zealand’s steadfast response to COVID-19, prime minister Jacinda Ardern declared the reopening of its borders to non-residents for the first time since March 2020. Key industry sectors, such as tourism and transport, are expected to slowly bounce back, whilst the export of agricultural commodities remains one of the principal factors in the stimulation of the Kiwi market. The reopening of the borders has generated speculation surrounding the ‘great resignation’, as residents leave in their droves to escape the pent-up recruitment market and businesses are subsequently devising incentives to delay the exodus. Annual inflation increased to 7.3%, its highest level in three decades, with households facing a rising cost of living and prices increase at a fast rate.
Oversea investors continue to sow their seeds in New Zealand and robust deal activity is expected to continue due to considerable amounts of capital available in the market, particularly in the technology, industrial and chemicals, financial services and healthcare sectors. Major infrastructure expansions include Auckland Light Rail and the Takitimu North Link project. Elsewhere, the number of commercial litigators leaving solicitor firms to join the bar is steadily increasing, and insolvency cases are on the rise, notably in the construction and property development sector. Although still in its infancy, New Zealand has seen significant cases of climate change litigation, with governments remaining the most common defendant.
The New Zealand Law Commission delivered its much-anticipated report proposing a reform to the Class Actions Act, permitting litigation funding to improve access to justice and efficiency in litigation, with regulation and oversight especially needed in Aotearoa.
Well-established domestic firms, including Bell Gully, Chapman Tripp and Russell McVeagh, in addition to Buddle Findlay and Simpson Grierson, maintain a strong presence in the market and provide full-service capabilities, similarly to MinterEllisonRuddWatts. International firms such as Dentons New Zealand and DLA Piper New Zealand continue to make their mark, while firms with niche expertise include litigation specialists LeeSalmonLong, insurance boutique Wotton + Kearney and IP giant AJ Park.