Dispute resolution in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully 'provides clear, concise advice and is always available to discuss matters', says a client who adds 'I appreciate their pragmatic approach'. The firm's work encompasses commercial and corporate disputes, class actions, regulatory and competition investigations, as well as matters arising in key sectors such as construction, insurance, insolvency, media and Maori law. Among its flagship cases was its work for Asia Pacific Village Group in High Court proceedings concerning the termination of a NZ$1.5bn purchase agreement. Practice head David Friar in Auckland and deputy Rachael Brown in Wellington oversee the 12-partner group. Simon Ladd, Sophie East, Jesse Wilson and up-and-coming partner Tim Fitzgerald, who handles banking, corporate and regulatory matters, are recommended in Auckland. In Wellington, Jenny Stevens frequently handles large-scale contractual disputes and negligence claims. The firm has a strong team of associates, among whom is senior associate Blair Keown, who focuses on financial markets and complex commercial disputes.

Practice head(s):

David Friar; Rachael Brown


‘The Bell Gully dispute resolution team provides clear, concise advice and is always available to discuss matters. I appreciate their pragmatic approach.’

‘Sophie East is a safe pair of hands. She has a calm manner but would be a daunting opponent with her tough negotiating skills.’

‘Senior associate Richard Massey provides clear and reasoned advice. He is easy to deal with and has an in-depth knowledge of the law.’

‘Tim Fitzgerald has helped us to respond to several tricky and contestable positions lately. He’s been able to get to the issue particularly quickly and provide a clear, and articulate piece of advice that we’ve found immensely helpful.’

Key clients

Air New Zealand

ANZ Bank New Zealand

ASB Bank

Commerce Commission

Downer Construction Ltd

Frucor Beverages Ltd

Genesis Energy Ltd


Millennium & Copthorne Hotel Group

Ngai Tahu


Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd

Suncorp Group

The Fletcher Construction Company Ltd

Vodafone New Zealand Ltd

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Winc Australia Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Representing Asia Pacific Village Group Limited (APVG) in a dispute over APVG’s termination of its $1.5bn acquisition of Metlifecare Limited on the basis of a Material Adverse Change clause. The proceeding will be the leading case on Material Adverse Change clauses in New Zealand.
  • Representing Fruit Shippers (the holding company of the Bonita bananas brand) in High Court proceedings concerning the alleged misappropriation of company funds by a former director and trustee. The firm successfully defended an application to strike out our client’s claim, with the High Court accepting for the first time that novel “multiple-derivative” claims can be brought in New Zealand.
  • Acted in High Court proceedings for Genesis Energy, defending novel claims against it concerning its alleged responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, and is acting on the appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp is 'a class act and has been for years', according to one market source. The firm frequently represents New Zealand entities and large multi-nationals in complex, high-profile and high-stakes multijurisdictional proceedings. Consistently involved in the most significant matters before the domestic courts, the firm has also developed a prominent role in emerging areas such as climate change litigation and class action, as well as general commercial litigation. Justin Graham leads the 14-partner practice and among his fellow standout partners in Auckland are Laura Fraser, who recently handled a complex judicial review proceeding for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, and John McKay and Edward Scorgie who are frequently involved in class actions. Daniel Kalderimis, who also sits as an arbitrator, is the key partner in Wellington, where senior associate Nicola Swan is recommended for matters involving public law and climate risk.

Practice head(s):

Justin Graham

Key clients

Former directors of Mainzeal Property & Construction Limited (Mainzeal)

BlueScope Steel Limited

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust

L&M Coal Holdings Limited (L&M)

Chorus New Zealand Limited

Morrison Asian Investments Limited

Z Energy

Fonterra Co-operative Group

Dairy Holdings Limited

Lyttelton Port Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Mainzeal was one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies but it went into receivership in February 2013, shortly followed by liquidation. Mainzeal’s liquidators sued our clients, Dame Jenny Shipley, Sir Paul Collins, Clive Tilby and Peter Gomm (former directors of Mainzeal Property & Construction Limited (Mainzeal)), for breaches of various directors’ duties following Mainzeal’s collapse in February 2013.
  • Acting for Z Energy, Fonterra Co-operative Group, Dairy Holdings Limited in a claim that s the first litigation in New Zealand against corporate defendants for liability for damage caused by climate change.
  • Represented a Bluescope Steel subsidiary, Toward Industries Limited (TIL), in defending a very large claim by New Zealand Steel Industries Limited (NZIS) arising from NZIS’s unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Taharoa Ironsands business.


LeeSalmonLong in Auckland is a litigation boutique with five experienced partners. The firm 'demonstrates leadership not only in the practice of commercial dispute resolution, but also in the empowerment of its solicitors to run difficult cases well'. Its team has significant experience in leading witness trials, appeals and appearing before the Supreme Court. Its work encompasses cutting-edge of developments including novel climate change litigation against the NZ government and private emitters. Commercial, contract and contentious insolvency specialist Michael Heard is 'astute and detailed but never lost in the detail'. Tim Mullins handles commercial and regulatory matters, and has 'a honed forensic capacity and a wealth of experience'. Isaac Hikaka focuses on complex trust issues, public law, sports law and Pacific Islands matters. Rachel Keane and Daniel Nilsson have broad caseloads that include product liability cases.

Other key lawyers:

David Bullock; Steven MaChing


‘The firm is a boutique litigation firm but in reality is bigger than most of the litigations teams at the full-service law firms. They offer more commercial service and provide clinical advice covering all aspects of an issue. Great culture and seamless delivery from juniors through to partners.’

Michael Heard has learnt his trade from the best. Again, his ability to read and manage a situation is achieved from the composite package he brings to his practice.’

‘While not a partner, associate Steven MaChing is outstanding and bats well above his weight. He brings so much more than legal skills and genuine rapport. He is analytical and savvy beyond compare with lawyers at his level. His technical big data and all round IT skills provide talent to really get to the bottom of discovery and other meta data in time to focus on strategy and output.’

‘Easy-going, knowledgeable and always available. Isaac Hikaka in particular is always available and brings wider valuable experience (beyond law) to his work.’

‘The team provides exceptional quality – they are smart and exceptional litigators. But what makes me love this firm is the value for money. The quality is on par with larger firms but I don’t dread getting the invoices. The lighter headcount makes for more efficient resourcing of matters.’

‘Associate David Bullock is extremely smart and his capability belies his level of experience. David gets to grips with matters quickly and has been able to provide recommendations on settlement strategy that are easy to understand format for the C-Suite.’

‘LSL is a talented team with a style of practice well suited to litigation in New Zealand. They have in-depth knowledge of the law and procedure, a strong sense of what works and how to achieve client goals, and a realistic approach to billing. Tim Mullins and Isaac Hikaka in particular are huge talents, worthy of special mention.’

‘Tim Mullins in particular is a powerhouse: he has an in-depth understanding of the law, a deep understanding of business and commerce, a honed forensic capacity, and a wealth of experience.’

‘Lee Salmon Long demonstrates leadership not only in the practice of commercial dispute resolution, but also in the empowerment of its solicitors to run difficult cases well. They respect and understand the fabric of the law, and in the legal, commercial and emotional dynamics involved in dispute resolution.’

‘Michael Heard is astute, detailed but never lost in the detail, and understands not only the “what” but also the “why”, which leads to great outcomes.’

‘Tim Mullins has an incredibly deep knowledge of the law, but is quick to grasp new technical and scientific information, and the cut and thrust of commercial dynamics.’

Key clients

Carter Holt Harvey Limited

Carter Holt Harvey

Te Ipukarea Society

Drug Free Sport

SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited

Peter Harris (former managing director and CEO of CBL Group)


Team New Zealand Limited (t/a Emirates Team New Zealand);

America’s Cup Event Limited

Stantec New Zealand

Work highlights

  • LeeSalmonLong is conducting Carter Holt Harvey’s defence of a claim by the Ministry of Education and others relating to alleged defects in building products manufactured by Carter Holt Harvey and used in over 800 school buildings across New Zealand.
  • Acted for Te Ipukarea Society in Judicial review litigation involving the impact of international obligations and duties to indigenous persons in respect of industrial fishing, appeal before the Privy Council.
  • Acting for Drug Free Sport in ongoing advice to New Zealand’s anti-doping authority involving wide range of anti-doping violations.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts has a large national litigation practice that handles high-value and complex commercial and regulatory disputes for publicly listed and multi-national corporations, banks and financial institutions, public sector entities and regulators, as well as numerous domestic companies. Its work spans commercial, insurance, insolvency, financial, consumer, regulatory, energy, environmental, public law and IT matters, as well as in health and safety matters, litigation funding and class actions. Andrew Horne and Jane Standage in Auckland are the heads of a ten-partner group, in which Oliver Meech and Aaron Lloyd are among the standout practitioners. Newly promoted partner Nick Frith has a growing presence in shareholder disputes and negligence claims. Stacey Shortall is the lead partner in Wellington, where Briony Davies is recommended for public law matters. Mark Sandelin left to become a barrister.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Horne; Jane Standage


‘The team is responsive, commercial and very knowledgeable. A pleasure to work with.’

‘Special counsel Ana Simkiss made herself available on very short notice. She digests information quickly and provides clear, coherent and sensible strategic advice. Sean Gollin is very experienced but still happy to take a hands-on approach.’

Key clients

Spark New Zealand Limited

Z Energy Limited

Bathurst Resources Limited

Taharoa Ironsands Limited (formally NZ Steel Mining Limited)

viagogo AG, Switzerland

Mainzeal Construction liquidators

Aon New Zealand Limited

Refining NZ and BT Mining Limited

Synlait Limited

Earthquake Commission

Work highlights

  • Acted for the successful defendant, Taharoa Ironsands, in a $500m High Court trial arising from the sale of an ironsands mining operation.
  • Representing a major dairy company, Synlait Milk Limited, in a high profile Supreme Court appeal arising from its construction of a $280m dairy processing factory on land that is subject to restrictive covenants prohibiting its use otherwise than for farming or forestry.
  • Acted for Andrew Bethell and Brian Mayo-Smith of BDO New Zealand Limited, as liquidators of the Mainzeal Group of Companies the successful liquidators in a landmark reckless trading case against the former directors of Mainzeal Property and Construction Limited, the collapse of which resulted in more than $157m of unsecured creditors’ claims. The landmark decision awarding $18m against the directors, who included a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was the highest award in New Zealand for insolvent trading.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson has the largest dispute resolution group in New Zealand, enabling it to handle the full range of litigation and arbitration, including matters concerning privacy, finance, construction, energy, defamation, product liability, public law, securities enforcement and more. 'The team is diverse in age, ethnicity and gender - not what you would expect of a dispute resolution team - which results in the team having a range of experiences and capabilities', remarks one client. Jania Baigent leads the practice from Auckland, where Richard Lange handles commercial disputes for major corporate and local authority clients. Firm chair Anne Callinan is recommended for regulatory disputes. In Wellington, John Shackleton and experienced public law advocate Sally McKechnie are recommended. The 'experienced, practical, results-orientedHelen Smith in Christchurch focuses on contractual and tortious claims, construction disputes, trust and equitable claims.

Practice head(s):

Jania Baigent


‘The team is diverse – age, ethnicity, gender in particular – not what you would expect of a dispute resolution team. This results in the team having a range of experiences and capabilities. Importantly, they are respectful of their staff, clients and of the other party’s clients and do not use “bullying” tactics when others do. They are very experienced and connected.’

‘The extensive experience of competition and regulatory law of Anne Callinan, chair of Simpson Grierson, is very important to our company. Anne’s way of working is just as important – her relationships with clients, and the way she leads her team, all contribute to her excellent reputation.’

‘The EQ and personal qualities of senior associate Nina Blomfield make working with her on what are not welcome activities – no one wants to be in dispute – manageable. Added to this is are her expertise and knowledge.’

‘Simpson Grierson has a strong dispute resolution team across a range of specialities including construction and insurance. Helen Smith is great to deal with, experienced, practical, results-oriented and always keeps you up to date on progress of litigation.’

Key clients

BP Oil New Zealand

Adamantem Capital Management Pty Limited

New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Incorporated





Fonterra Co-operative Group


Financial Markets Authority


Chief Ombudsman

Nib Holdings Ltd

HDI Global SE, Australia

Transpower (National grid operator)

Pyne Gould Corporation Limited

Auckland Council

Work highlights

  • Acting for Harmoney in a test case brought by the NZ Commerce Commission which concerns the application of financial services legislation to peer-to-peer lending. It is a case study in the problems that arise in applying existing laws to new, disruptive technologies and is a significant test of the scope of New Zealand’s consumer credit laws.
  • Tourism is a key industry for New Zealand. The firm acted for Auckland Council in defence of its decision to levy a targeted rate against accommodation providers to help fund the cost associated with high visitor numbers. It has acted in all the significant rating judicial review cases in New Zealand since 1996.
  • The Ministry of Education has brought proceedings against Carter Holt Harvey over the manufacture and supply of (allegedly defective) building cladding materials which were installed in over 800 schools around New Zealand. Carter Holt Harvey joined 48 Councils as third parties to that claim, alleging design and construction defects. The firm acts for all 48 Councils, defending Carter Holt Harvey’s claims. The case challenges established law around the application of a limitation provision in the Building Act.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper is called upon by clients in the North Island and South Island to assist with domestic and international litigation. The firm's work spans commercial litigation, including contractual disputes and breach of trust matters, alongside health and safety, construction and insolvency litigation. It continues to be involved in a claim against Southern Response Earthquake Services for misrepresentation, misleading and deceptive conduct and breach of good faith which has resulted in a NZ$300m class action. Dan Hughes in Auckland is the practice head and he focuses on general commercial and insolvency litigation. Peter Woods in Christchurch is an accomplished litigator with a track record in commercial property, company law, contract interpretation, defamation and IP matters, though he is most notable for cases arising from the Canterbury earthquakes.

Practice head(s):

Dan Hughes

Other key lawyers:

Peter Woods

Key clients

ANZ Skytours New Zealand

Auckland International Airport Ltd

Avior Consulting Pty Limited

Coca-Cola Amatil

Fulton Hogan

Goodman Fielder

Lyttelton Port Company Ltd

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand

PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency Limited

Rodgers ReidyVinLink Marlborough Limited

Westpac New Zealand

Work highlights

  • The claim against Southern Response Earthquake Services (SR) has a significant value to the general public and has led to commencement of class action claim – as SR engaged in the same conduct for more than 1,600 claims and it has been estimated that the total value of all claims exceeds NZ$300m.
  • Acting for PFK Corporate Recovery and Insolvency (Auckland) in a leading case in New Zealand on preference claims involving third-party payments.
  • Acting for McGrath Nicol as Court-appointed receivers to the shares of the company which owns internationally renowned Huka Lodge and Dolphin Island in Fiji. The purpose of the appointment has been to realise assets sufficient to secure payment of approximately US$25m.

Buddle Findlay

'Their ability to analyse highly complex legal claims and distill that information into clear and concise advice has been invaluable', remarks a client of Buddle Findlay. Alongside litigation concerning financial services and insolvency, the firm is heavily involved in significant class action, property, construction, judicial review, intellectual property, and climate change litigation. Scott Barker in Wellington leads the practice, focusing on insolvency and commercial litigation. In the same office, Seb Bisley is an experienced trial and appeals advocate. David Broadmore in Auckland counts Sky Television and Auckland Council among his high-profile clients. Senior litigation partner Willie Palmer, who focuses on construction, insurance and insolvency matters, emerging talent Kelly Paterson and senior associate Olly Peers are the main practitioners in Christchurch.

Practice head(s):

Scott Barker


‘The legal minds I have worked with in the dispute resolution team at Buddle Findlay are seriously impressive. Their ability to absorb significant volumes of information quickly and analyse highly complex legal claims and distill that information into clear and concise advice has been invaluable. The team is thorough but not at the expense of the client. They represent excellent value for money and are a pleasure to work with.’

‘David Broadmore is a very safe pairs of hands. He leaves no stone unturned. His advice is thorough and clear and his quick response times and ability to build a good rapport with clients make him a pleasure to work with. No swagger here, just excellent legal advice. In a competitive legal market, the firm stands out from the crowd.’

‘The firm has an excellent dispute resolution team, in particular Willy Palmer, Kelly Paterson and senior associate Olly Peers.’

‘Buddle Findlay is a leading firm in Christchurch and nationally, including in the field of dispute resolution. Willy Palmer, Kelly Paterson and Olly Peers have excellent legal knowledge and excellent client relations and client rapport.’

‘This concerns the Christchurch litigation practice. I have been instructed by this firm on several substantial pieces of litigation including a ground-breaking class action. They are extremely responsive as a firm of instructing solicitors. The drafting work is of a very high standard. They are one of the few Christchurch litigation practices I would want to work with. I know I can rely on them.’

‘Willie Palmer is the senior litigation partner. He is very experienced and provides overall guidance to the team.’

‘Kelly Paterson is a more junior partner but has gained considerable experience in her career. She has appeared with me in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. She acted as advocate in the Court of Appeal – and was very good.’

‘Olly Peers is a senior associate who is very competent. He has an extremely strong focus on understanding the desired business outcomes and relevant factors, not merely assessing legal merits.’

‘Scott Barker provides robust advice targeted at commercial outcomes and thinks outside the box for the benefit of the client. Senior associate Luke Sizer has fantastic capability for understanding detail and articulating logical argument.’

Key clients

Sky Television


Bank of New Zealand

Auckland Council



Southern Response Earthquake Services

General Electric

New Zealand Steel

Accident Compensation Corporation

Ashley Trust


New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Department of Corrections

Work highlights

  • Acting for Southern Response in defending a large class action initiated by former customers (Mr and Mrs Ross).   The plaintiffs have sought leave to proceed on an opt-out basis, which was successfully opposed by Southern Response. The Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgment and the matter is now set to be heard by the Supreme Court in June 2020.
  • Acting for New Zealand Industrial Park Limited in a dispute with NZX listed Synlait Milk Limited. Synlait is seeking to remove two restrictive covenants over land on which it has constructed a NZ$280m infant formula manufacturing plant (the covenants require the land to be kept as bare grazing land). In the Court of Appeal, the firm was successful in overturning a High Court decision and restoring the two covenants.
  • Advising the Department of Corrections (the Department) regarding its modular prison build contract with Decmil Construction NZ Limited (now in liquidation). The Department’s modular prison build project is a project of national significance, which has received significant media attention.   Since the liquidation of Decmil, Corrections has called on bonds, and Decmil’s liquidator and parent company have sought an injunction to restrain the calling on those bonds.

Dentons Kensington Swan

'They are empathetic and demonstrate care in how they go about their work', says a client of the dispute resolution group at Dentons Kensington Swan, adding that 'they are obviously skilled at what they do, but it is the holistic approach they bring that sets them apart from other firms'. The firm is widely recognised for its skill in government, regulatory, infrastructure and competition litigation, though it also handles corporate disputes, defamation, Māori treaty, private client, real estate, relationship property and trades practices matters. Firm chair David Campbell in Auckland and commercial and public law litigation partner Hayden Wilson in Wellington lead the practice. Auckland-based senior associate Reece Leggett is recommended for competition and consumer protection matters.

Practice head(s):

David Campbell; Hayden Wilson

Other key lawyers:

Reece Leggett; Linda Clark


‘The team takes the time to get to know you and understand you as a full person, not just focus on the issue or problem you have. They are empathetic and demonstrate care in how they go about their work. They are obviously skilled at what they do, but it is the holistic approach they bring that sets them apart from other firms.’

‘Standout partners include Hayden Wilson and Linda Clark. They are very experienced and down to earth. They are excellent lawyers, who are also really nice people and they have a sense of humour, which helps create a genuine engagement with them.’

Key clients

Bioxyne Limited

NZ Transport Agency

Ministry of Social Development

Tourism NZ

Engineering New Zealand

New Zealand Medical Council

Pharmacy Council of New Zealand

Serco New Zealand / Serco Asia Pacific

The Herrick Corporation

Crimson Consulting Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Bioxyne, an Australian life sciences and health products company listed on the ASX, which sells products through multilevel marketing. Bioxyne, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Bioxyne International (NZ) Limited, and its Managing Director, N H Chua, were issued with proceedings brought by New Image Group Limited and New Image International Limited, and Graeme Clegg (the director and majority shareholder in New Image). New Image is a competing MLM business that Mr Chua was previously involved in. Mr Chua issued counterclaims against New Image and Mr Clegg. New Image alleged nine causes of action including breach of the Fair Trading Act 1986, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidence and knowing assistance.
  • Acted for Serco New Zealand Limited (Serco). Mr Lightbody was assaulted by another prisoner while on remand at Mount Eden Corrections Facility (managed by Serco New Zealand Limited) in 2014. Mr Lightbody later released CCTV footage of the assault which received significant media attention. Mr Lightbody bought a claim against Serco New Zealand Limited and the Department of Corrections in the High Court for negligence and breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and a claim in the Human Rights Review Tribunal for breach of privacy relating to the footage of the assault.
  • Acted for the Ministry of Social Development, who has been engaged in a dispute with a landlord over several aspects of a tenancy over a number of years.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand acts for domestic and international clients, frequently in high-value and complex cross-border disputes. Alongside its general commercial litigation capability, the firm has a broader dispute resolution practice that involves other key practice areas, notably insurance, resource management and employment. Its work also includes regulatory matters, as well as cases in the retail, banking, securities, insolvency and real estate sectors. In Auckland, practice head Iain Thain handles competition, regulatory and construction disputes as part of his broad practice, while Alicia Murray focuses on consumer law and financial services litigation. In Wellington, newly promoted partner Emma Moran deals with public law and commercial litigation.

Practice head(s):

Iain Thain

Other key lawyers:

Alicia Murray; Emma Moran

Key clients


Auckland Council

Hilton Hotels

Trustees Executors

Moet Hennessey

Cornwall Park Trust Board


Capital and Coast District Health Board

Heartland Bank

PB Technologies Ltd


Work highlights

  • Acting for Capital and Coast District Health Board on a large and complex multi-party claim against parties involved in the $300m project to design and construct Wellington Regional Hospital.
  • Representing a Body Corporate in its claim against QBE Insurance and various other parties relating to damage caused by the Canterbury Earthquakes to a 22-storey building comprising a hotel and residential apartments. Issues include the cover under the Body Corporate’s insurance policy, as well as issues with defective building work when certain repairs were undertaken. The estimated repair cost is over $75m.
  • Representing New Zealand’s largest supermarket group to successfully obtain judicial review of a decision by a statutory body acting as a commission of inquiry into proposed changes of rules for the socially important and politically sensitive issue of sale and supply of alcohol.

Gilbert Walker

Gilbert Walker is a three-partner advisory and litigation boutique in Auckland that has in-depth experience of complex disputes and regulatory matters. Frequently working opposite leading large firms and Queen’s Counsel, the partners act for major corporates, banks, professional firms and insurers. Its recent work includes a number of high-profile class actions. 'The firm is very responsive, efficient, smart and well resourced', notes one client who highlights commercial, regulatory and insurance disputes partner Iva Rosic as 'smart and practical'. Matthew Harris frequently appears as lead counsel in first instance and appellate hearings. The 'pragmatic and commercialMartin Smith is recommended for his 'outstanding client service and legal expertise'. Associate Alexander Ho is also recommended.

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Ho


‘The firm is very responsive, efficient, smart and well resourced.’

‘Iva Rosic is smart, very responsive, practical. She makes efficient use of team resources and provides great outcomes.’

‘The firm is one of the best boutique litigation firms in the country: incredibly efficient with outstanding client service and legal expertise.’

‘Martin Smith has outstanding client service and legal expertise. He is pragmatic and has a commercial approach.’

‘Three exceptional partners – the partner team is in my view the strongest of any in New Zealand. The firm has particular experience and expertise in banking, construction, insurance and regulatory litigation.’

‘I have worked with all three partners – Matthew Harris, Martin Smith and Iva Rosic. All three are excellent.’

Key clients

The former Directors of Feltex Carpets

ANZ Bank

Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd


PwC New Zealand

Skycity Entertainment Group

Vector Ltd

Jones Lang Lasalle

Kiwi Property

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Acting for the former directors of Feltex Carpets Limited, a formerly publicly traded company, in a class action brought on behalf of more than 3,600 shareholder claimants seeking approximately NZ$200m.
  • Acting for ANZ Bank , New Zealand’s largest financial institution, in defending a class action brought by 550 investors in Ross Asset Management Ltd, a financial advisor that was revealed to have been running New Zealand’s largest Ponzi scheme , seeking damages of approximately NZ$80m.
  • Acting for The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand in successful appeals to the Court of Appeal in relation to a seabed mining operation off the Taranaki coast and a proposed coal mine on the West Coast.

Russell McVeagh

'They are timely in their responses, and nothing is a problem', says a client of the litigation practice at Russell McVeagh. The firm has a solid reputation in high-profile litigation on behalf of domestic and international companies and banks. Its work spans key litigation areas such as construction, M&A, insolvency and class actions. It is also frequently involved in high-stakes financial regulatory enforcement matters. Marika Eastwick-Field leads the practice from Auckland, where firm chair and senior litigator Malcolm Crotty remains a key strategic adviser on disputes. IP and regulatory partner Joe Edwards and class action expert Polly Pope are also recommended. In 2020, partner Kirsten Massey joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, where she handled banking litigation. Chris Curran in Wellington is also recommended. Former practice head Sarah Armstrong is now a barrister at Shortland Chambers.

Practice head(s):

Marika East-wick-Field


‘The team is exceptional technically. As a firm, it holds a number of subject matter experts which enables us to seek advice on a wide variety of issues. They are well resourced and work with us as its clients to get the best results.’

‘They are timely in their responses, and nothing is a problem.’

‘They outline all available settlement pathways and the pros and cons of each.’

‘The standout dispute resolution partners for us are Nathaniel Walker and Marika Eastwick-Field. They both have a collaborative, customer-focused work ethic. They have worked hard to understand the organisation’s strategy and provide strategic advice that supports us to reach these objectives whilst maintaining legal compliance. They have both acted on a variety of technical disputes, providing advice on all permissible settlement options.’

‘The Russell McVeagh dispute resolution team has, within it, a wide range of subject matter expertise which makes them a trusted and valued resource for every dispute resolution matter that our business faces. We feel that the team has good depth and knowledge of our business while also being able to divorce itself from its client’s interests to provide well-reasoned, well thought out advice that addresses all of the issues that we may need to when preparing internal advice.’

‘Polly Pope is an experienced litigator that has an exceptional grasp of how courts will interpret contractual information. Polly has demonstrated time and time again that her advice can be trusted, relied on and is expertly drafted.’

‘Joe Edwards is a very promising litigator who, in particular, has become a first port of call for all potential dispute resolution matters that have an IP or consumer law lens. As mentioned in other submissions, Joe has an impressive ability to be able to understand the client’s business and what the key drivers are behind advice. It’s this pragmatism that makes Joe a pleasure to deal with and a go-to when you need quick, reasoned advice. Importantly, Joe isn’t afraid to take a stand on an issue which is refreshing.’

Key clients

Omni Bridgeway (funder for representative action)


Bath Street Capital Limited

Earthquake Commission

Credit Suisse

Mānuka Health New Zealand Limited

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited

Milk New Zealand (Shanghai) Co Limited

New Zealand Guardian Trust Limited

Lendlease Capital Services Pty Ltd

Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • The firm, with the support of the litigation funder Omni Bridgeway, is investigating bringing two class actions on behalf of persons and entities with proprietary interests in buildings in New Zealand, on which there is installed certain types of aluminium composite panel cladding with a combustible core comprised wholly or substantially of polyethylene. The proceedings are expected to be product liability claims against certain manufacturers of Alucobond and Vitrabond PE core cladding products.
  • Acted for New Zealand’s largest company, Fonterra, in successfully supporting the Commerce Commission’s defence of an application for judicial review brought by Open Country Dairy Limited. Open Country sought review of certain conclusions of the Commerce Commission in its review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation.
  • Acting for Earthquake Commission in Gibling v Earthquake Commission, which was brought as an important and precedent-setting “test” case about the duties owed by EQC and potentially other parties (for example, private insurers, contractors and homeowners) in situations where a house is on-sold and the original EQC repairs to fix earthquake damage are later alleged to be defective or incomplete. The lead proceeding was settled in August 2019 against the context of a new Government policy to assist claimants in similar situations.

Wilson Harle

'The firm shows fantastic client management skills', says a client of Wilson Harle in Auckland. The firm is a high-end commercial litigation boutique handling commercial, regulatory and public law disputes, as well as providing strategic risk management and compliance advice. The firm is frequently involved in high-stakes matters and notable for its work in contentious competition and cartel litigation. The firm's four partners - Chris Browne, Allison Ferguson, who is 'one of the best operators in litigation', Ian Denton and Felicity Monteiro - have broad-ranging practices, though each also has specific areas of interest, as in Monteiro's work on shipping disputes.


‘The firm shows fantastic client management skills.’

‘Allison Ferguson is rightly regarded as one of the best operators in litigation. She has great judgment and is good at dealing with the hard cases.’

Key clients

New Zealand Retail Property Group Limited

Joan Withers

Napier City Council

Body Corporate 207624

Farhad Vladi

Auckland District Health Board

Body Corporate 329331 (in Administration)

Vodafone New Zealand Limited

C&R Construction

Gambling Commission

Public Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for NZRPG in a commercial dispute with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport over the design and construction of a new town centre in West Auckland. The town area has been designated to become the third-largest commercial centre in Auckland.
  • Acted for Joan Withers in the Houghton v Saunders proceeding (Feltex litigation), which commenced in February 2008, concerns the liability of those associated with the 2004 Feltex Carpets IPO of shares under New Zealand securities legislation. Mr Houghton brought a representative claim on behalf of himself and other investors, alleging that the IPO prospectus had been misleading, causing loss to investors.
  • Acting for Napier City Council in relation to a proceeding issued against its indemnifier seeking judgment for indemnity in relation to a negligence/breach of statutory duty claim in respect of building work certification. The issue turns on the meaning of an exclusion clause which the indemnifier claims enables it to avoid liability entirely.

Fee Langstone

'They are approachable, reliable, efficient, trustworthy and intelligent', say clients of team at Fee Langstone in Auckland. Best known for its insurance litigation expertise, the firm is increasingly involved in general commercial litigation. It is currently involved in major disputes for global accounting firms. It has also played a role in major class actions, as well as significant matters in District Courts, High Courts and the Court of Appeal, as well as before professional disciplinary bodies. Philippa Fee and Russell Stewart are the lead partners. Pauline Davies is recommended for maritime and aviation matters, and Matthew Atkinson for the defence of claims against professionals.

Practice head(s):

Philippa Fee; Russell Stewart


‘Fee Langstone has a long history in the New Zealand market and a wealth of knowledge and experience. The firm has a strong reputation for being insurance litigation specialists providing excellent coverage advice and resolution strategies in a wide range of areas, particularly in the areas of PI and D&O. They are approachable, reliable, efficient, trustworthy, intelligent and have an in-depth knowledge of insurance law and an excellent understanding of an insurer.’

‘Philippa Fee is a talented, intelligent lawyer with a wealth of knowledge and experience. She can grapple with complex legal and coverage issues and provides solid, pragmatic and commercial resolution strategies.’

‘Fee Langstone is a specialist litigation practice so this is what they do, and they do it well. It has a very capable and knowledgeable team.’

‘Philippa Fee has run some large trials for us with excellent results. She is always very careful to consider the legal position thoroughly before embarking on a course of action. Her advice is always thorough and accurate. Virginia Wethey handles some very complex files for us and is on top of all of the details. She understands all of the issues and seeks to find a way to a resolution.’

‘The team at Fee Langstone are all of very high calibre. They work collectively with me as a client and understand our needs and requirements on every file they work on. Fee Langstone anticipates best case and worst case scenarios so I am best placed to properly consider strategy on files. Communication is excellent and timely and provide value for money.’

‘Philippa Fee, Matt Atkinson and Russell Stewart and Craig Langstone are always available to discuss matters and can always discuss each file in detail at any time. All partners at Fee Langstone have great attention to detail and focus on appropriate outcomes in each matter. In my business I am required to achieve the best result and I get this from all the partners at Fee Langstone.’

‘Fee Langstone has a number of strong partners in the area of dispute resolution, who are well able to handle any litigation matter, and give robust and pragmatic advice.’

Key clients

Crombie Lockwood

Ernst & Young

First NZ Capital

Frank’s International

KPMG Ireland


Lloyds of London (various syndicates)

NCI Commercial Collections

NTI Limited


QBE European Operations

QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd

NZI & NZI Marine

Vero Insurance / Suncorp

Zurich New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Acting for Ernst & Young in relation to High Court proceedings brought by Fuji Xerox NZ and related entities against its former auditor, EY, two former directors and the former CFO arising out of alleged inappropriate accounting practices. The quantum involved may surpass NZ$250m.
  • Successfully represented Thomson Wilson, the third defendant solicitor, in the High court against a claim of breach of fiduciary duty. The judgment was handed down in April 2020. Daisley v ARK Contractors Ltd [2020] NZHC 793.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry in Auckland joins the ranking for its growing caseload in litigation, arbitration and mediation. The firm has a sector-specific approach that sees it frequently involved in disputes involving construction, insurance, trade and transport, though it also handles contentious employment, property, trusts, insolvency and regulatory matters. It frequently acts as counsel in major infrastructure disputes. The practice is led by Nick Gillies and Alison Maelzer but the standout practitioner is Christina Bryant, who is an experienced trial lawyer appearing frequently as counsel at High Court and appellate level. Senior associate Glen Holm-Hansen also plays a key role.

Practice head(s):

Nick Gillies;  Alison Maelzer


‘The firm exhibits good practice management and initiative.’

‘Christina Bryant is commercial, pragmatic, and intelligent. Nick Gillies is great at advocating hard for the best result for his clients.’

‘The firm has significant depth of resources and superior knowledge.’

‘It provides pragmatic and commercially astute legal advice. It is open to considering other options and ideas, and it has encyclopaedic knowledge.’

‘It has a good appreciation of the contractors’ concerns and is very responsive with practical advice.’

‘Nick Gillies is very knowledgeable and approachable. Glen Holmes-Hanson is very hardworking and knowledgable.’

‘Hesketh Henry has a strong team of construction law specialists who are excellent communicators and have deep industry knowledge. Partners are very accessible and are close to the advice provided.’

‘Nick Gillies is an excellent communicator with strong legal skills and a collaborative approach. Christina Bryant is a very experienced advocate who puts the client first and is solutions-focused.’

Key clients

Vero Insurance New Zealand Ltd

Juken New Zealand Limited

AECOM New Zealand Limited

Fulton Hogan Ltd

Naylor Love Ltd

Form Building & Developments Ltd

Infinity Enterprises NZ Ltd

Russell Group (including Dominion Constructors Ltd)

Savvy Vineyards Group

McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd

Work highlights

  • Defended Vero in relation to two multimillion-dollar proceedings involving multi-unit complexes which included several of the firm’s solicitors appearing as counsel at a 6-week High Court trial.
  • Acting for Juken in relation to multiple significant proceedings in both the High Court and in arbitration regarding its regulatory and commercial operations.
  • Acting for Savvy Vineyards as solicitors and counsel in appeals to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court regarding the interpretation and enforcement of long-term agreements for the purchase of grapes in the Marlborough wine region.

K3 Legal

K3 Legal in Auckland is predominantly a dispute resolution firm with a focus mainly on civil and commercial matters, though it also has expertise in contentious insolvency, property, construction, resource management, employment and relationship property disputes. Alongside commercial litigation, the firm also undertakes family and criminal law matters. James Nolen leads the practice and he handles civil, commercial and insolvency litigation, as does Edwin Morrison. Toni Brown focuses on contentious family law and relationship property matters, and is a court appointed advocate for children.

Practice head(s):

James Nolen

Other key lawyers:

Edwin Morrison; Toni Brown

Key clients

Michael Kidd

Defendant in criminal fraud matter

(Insolvent) Estate of Mark Norrie

Zhong Li

Vasundhara Enterprises Limited

Sharma Family

Federal Commercial Construction Limited

Chris Horton & Associates

Treasure River Enterprise Limited

Brendon Price Computers Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Michael Kidd, one of two partners in a long running partnership dispute dating back to 1991 between two international businessmen concerning a fortune amassed from international steel trading and investment.
  • Representing two private individuals and their company. Mr Li had been defrauded of his interest in four properties. Mr Li and his company, New Zealand New Oak Property Limited claim breach of trust against the fraudster, knowing receipt, and dishonest assistance by the fraudster’s wife, and dishonest assistance by the fraudster’s lawyer. The client claimed against his former attorney for breach of his duties and recovery of assets and property fraudulently transferred into the attorney’s name.
  • Acting for Vasundhara Enterprises Limited, a Family Trust and its corporate entities to avoid liquidation and restructure its assets to enable an arrangement with the Inland Revenue.

Lane Neave

Lane Neave joins the ranking this year and is best known for its work in successfully resolving complex commercial disputes especially in the primary resources, infrastructure and property sectors, particularly in the South Island. It also has a strong track record in contentious insolvency disputes, and in advising stakeholders in insolvency matters including administrators, liquidators, receivers, directors, and financial creditors. Infrastructure is a key sector and the firm is currently defending a major South Island electricity distribution network in a multimillion-dollar damages claim. Ben Russell in Christchurch leads the three-partner practice, in which Rebecca Scott plays a key role.

Practice head(s):

Ben Russell

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Scott; Mike King; Sam Crosbie


‘I have dealt with Ben Russell and found him attentive, responsive, measured and practical. Ben has been easy to work with, values client input, is not keen to over-lawyer things and has a realistic appraisal of likely outcomes.’

‘Thoughtful and customer-focused, the team keeps us informed and consults with us at every significant step.’

‘They work hard to act in our best long-term interests.’

‘From the beginning of our case, Ben Russell made sure we had a full understanding of the legal aspects to our case, the time span it would take us to get the defendant to court , and he explained in great detail all the steps that had to be taken legally. We appreciated his ability to explain, in our language, our journey.’

‘Senior associate Mike King was excellent throughout our case. Our case was a rural land discrepancy/stock units/fertiliser one which was new ground for Ben Russell and Mike. Mike listened with great care and patience when we were trying to relay information to him. He was efficient, always made himself available at any time to discuss any matter that we considered very important. We worked with these two men for approx two years and they always acted in the most professional manner.’

‘Ben Russell is an excellent all-round litigator. He has a high level of legal knowledge, plenty of common sense, great people skills and is hardworking.’

‘I am currently instructed by the Christchurch litigation team in relation to a three-month trial currently underway. I am working with partner Rebecca Scott and associate Sam Crosbie. Both are very competent and a pleasure to work with. The case involves 24/7 attendances and I can rely on them for that. Nothing is a problem. I would be very happy to be instructed by this team on virtually any matter.  I think Rebecca has a strong future as a litigation lawyer.’

Key clients

Orion New Zealand Ltd

Wellington International Airport Limited

PricewaterhouseCoopers – liquidators of various companies including Chesterfields Preschools Ltd

Synlait Milk Ltd

Westland Milk Products

Huadu International Management Group

Trustees Executors Limited

Ashton Wheelans Ltd – liquidators of Corbel Construction

Queenstown Lakes District Council

NZSki Limited

Selwyn Pastures Limited

Ashburton Licensing Trust

Body Corporate 81822 Sanctuary Villas

Body Corporate 389593 35 Riccarton Road

Work highlights

  • Advising electricity distributor Orion New Zealand Ltd in relation to proceedings brought on behalf of insured homeowners affected by the Port Hills Fires.
  • Advising Wellington International Airport Limited in relation to rating revaluations on substantial leasehold land parcels in the Land Valuation Tribunal and on appeal
  • Appointed by the liquidators of Chesterfields Preschools Limited, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to represent the liquidators in numerous recovery proceedings arising from its liquidation involving assets allegedly held under trusts, including an upcoming appeal to the Court of Appeal

Lindsay & Francis

Lindsay & Francis was founded in 2017 and has quickly built up a strong client base for complex and high-profile corporate, securities, commercial and regulatory litigation. Its recent work includes representing the former chairman and three other directors of failed reinsurer CBL Corporation in a series of significant and first-of-their-kind regulatory and shareholder class action litigations. Timothy Lindsay leads the practice and is an experienced advocate who frequently argues cases against and alongside Queen’s Counsel.

Practice head(s):

Timothy Lindsay

Other key lawyers:

Kim Francis

Key clients

Bunnings Limited

K Mart (New Zealand)

Former directors of CBLI Corporation Limited

Creditors of Tamarind Taranaki Limited

PBL Solutions Limited

Pipeline & Civil Limited

AC3 / Bulletproof Group Limited

Healthy Breath Limited

Intech Inc.

Les Mills International

Work highlights

  • Defending Bunnings in ongoing prosecution by New Zealand’s competition and consumer protection regulator the New Zealand Commerce Commission in one of the most significant prosecutions in recent years, alleging breaches of consumer protection laws relating to Bunnings’ advertising.
  • Defending the former chairman and three independent directors of collapsed listed reinsurer CBL Corporation Limited, in a number of high-profile and significant and novel proceedings brought by New Zealand’s financial markets and securities regulator, the Financial Markets Authority, two shareholder class actions, and the liquidators of operating subsidiary, CBLI Insurance.
  • Representing PBL Solutions Limited in shareholder in derivative proceedings brought against ASX and NZX-listed pharmaceuticals company AFT Pharmaceuticals in relation to the parties’ orphan drug joint venture, and AFT Orphan Pharmaceuticals.

Tompkins Wake

Tompkins Wake handles high-level commercial and private client litigation and arbitration for large, nationally recognised clients. It has a particularly strong local government practice handling litigation, judicial review and electoral matters, among other things. 'Very experienced and proficient' practice head James MacGillivray in Hamilton has particular expertise in the aviation, local government and dairy sectors. In the same office, Mark Hammond has extensive experience in regulatory prosecutions and Kate Cornegé has notable experience in cases in regulated industries such as dairy, energy and telecommunications. Fraser Wood in Rotorua handles civil, criminal and employment matters.

Practice head(s):

James MacGillivray


‘A very commercial and broad-based practice.’

‘James MacGillivray is very experienced and proficient. Kate Cornege is great to work with. Both have good judgment and are very capable.’

‘Stephanie Ambler is an outstanding partners in the estate, trust and relationship property litigation area. She has comprehensive knowledge and is responsive and cost-effective.’

‘They have a strong team ethic, which is driven by the partners. They are always making sure that one of their specialised is involved. We do tend to first ask James McGillivray who is our key contact and he will direct us to the appropriate people.’

‘We deal mainly with James McGillivray who is a great tactician in respect to litigation. James is ably assisted by Simon Jass who works tirelessly on getting the fact in order. That team won us a significant case in 2019/2020.’

‘Tompkins Wake is a truly strategic partner. They are unique in that they look at the ultimate community outcomes of their advice and consider the overall well being of community. As a council, this relationship and focus is critical.’

‘They provide advice and strategic support over and above their role as lawyers to the council. They understand the council’s strategic direction and work at every level to maximise our ability to achieve these outcomes.’

‘The partners I work with have the key skills to do the work – they are experts in their particular disciplines and understand how to break difficult and complex issues down and support in a pragmatic way.’

‘James MacGillivray completely understands the value the council provides to the community and works hard to deliver world-class advice. He is able to manage processes effectively and is highlight risk.’

‘Mark Hammond provides pragmatic strategic employment relation advice. He is absolutely exceptional in building ER strategies and executing them.’

Key clients

Air New Zealand Limited

Open Country Dairy Limited

Hamilton City Council

IBC Japan Limited

Two directors of Bodco Limited

South Waikato District Council

Waikato Regional Council

Work highlights

  • Represented Air New Zealand Limited in its claim for damages for failures to supply jet fuel in 2017 following damage to the fuel pipeline.
  • Represented Open Country Dairy Limited in its application for judicial review of the Commerce Commission’s report on the farm-gate milk price.
  • Represented Hamilton City Council in opposing an application by Skycity Entertainment Group to amend licence conditions for Hamilton Casino.

Wynn Williams

Clients praise the 'precise, professional and competent' approach of the litigation group at Wynn Williams. Known for the quality of its in-house advocacy, the firm has a broad-ranging dispute resolution practice that acts for corporate entities and high-profile individuals. The 'professional and patient' Jeremy Johnson and Anthony Drake in Auckland, along with Joshua Shaw in Christchurch, are the lead partners. Johnson handles commercial disputes, equity and trusts, complex relationship property and arbitration. Andrew Watkins in Christchurch is recommended for relationship property and contentious trusts and estates matters.

Other key lawyers:

William Porter; Andrew Watkins


‘I needed Wynn Williams because one of my clients had to recover an amount of money from an investment company in New Zealand. I needed a lawyer in order to assist the client before the Court. Wynn Williams’ lawyers are very precise, professional and competent. They tried to find the best solution in a reasonable time. I found them more competent and professional compared with other firms.’

‘I worked with Jeremy Johnson and associate William Porter. They are both very precise, always available to discuss the matter despite the time difference, and ready to answer to my questions. I found them really expert in their field.’

‘Overall, Jeremy Johnson and his team are very knowledgable in providing advice to the company. His team always keeps the company up to date in the legal proceeding developments and in advising on the next steps to be taken.’

‘Jeremy Johnson is very professional and patient especially in explaining the legal terms in layman’s terms to a non-legal person like me. He is always available should the company require any clarification or in doubt.’

Key clients

Redwood Group Ltd

AutoNet / Autoterminal International

Hastings McLeod

Meng Wang

PLF Services Limited

Anglican Church of Aotearoa

John Darby

Adam Banks

Winton Group (Northlake Investments Ltd)

S&G Three Kings Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Meng Wang who was accused of misappropriating around $4.8m of another’s funds, which were ultimately used to partially fund the acquisition of a Golf Club in Auckland. The client’s position was that the $4.8m was, in fact, his money and that the other person had been a conduit through which the client’s family’s money had been transferred from China.
  • Acted for PLF Services Limited in a matter that involves proceedings under the Companies Act 1993 against former directors for failing to discharge director duties resulting in collapse of Stonewood Group. Proceedings have been filed seeking between NZ$18-$27m for various breaches of directors’ duties but mainly reckless trading.
  • The client John Darby is one of New Zealand’s leading property developers responsible for a significant number of high-value projects in New Zealand. This matter involves a relationship property dispute with a family member. The dispute is currently in the Family Court and one interim mediation has occurred.