Dispute resolution in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully has one the largest and most prominent commercial litigation teams in New Zealand. Department head Jenny Stevens in Wellington and, in Auckland, deputy practice head David Friar lead the firm's national litigation practice. In Auckland, Simon Ladd is an experienced senior litigator with particular expertise in competition proceedings, construction disputes and insurance law, and Sophie East is recommended for commercial disputes, banking and finance litigation, class actions and securities law. Up-and-coming partner Jesse Wilson handles regulatory matters and corporate disputes and senior associate Rebecca Rose is recommended for her advocacy skills. Ian Gault is now a High Court Judge.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Stevens; David Friar


‘I always really enjoy working with Brad Ward and Simon Ladd at Bell Gully. They are intelligent, professional, responsive, good-natured and pleasant to work with, and obviously highly competent technically. Simon and Brad are our preferred external solicitors for all leaky building, construction and commercial disputes.’

‘I rate both Brad Ward and Simon Ladd very highly and look forward to continuing to work with them. They work well as a team. Brad is my go-to commercial litigator for a very broad range of commercial disputes. And Simon’s extensive experience means he is invaluable for strategy discussions and commercial negotiations.’

‘This team’s work is well thought through and presented clearly. Their knowledge of the law is impeccable.’

‘David Friar and Richard Massey have great communication skills which means our expectations are always managed smoothly.’

Key clients

Air New Zealand

ANZ Bank New Zealand

ASB Bank

Auckland Transport


Genesis Energy Limited

Ngai Tahu

Vodafone New Zealand Ltd

Fletcher Building Ltd

Downer Construction


Vero Insurance

Southern Response

Korda Mentha

Frucor Beverages Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for a panel of insurers (Vero, AIG, Zurich, QBE, Chubb, and IAG) defending a proceeding by Lincoln University under a material damage and business interruption policy arising from the Canterbury Earthquakes.
  • Acting for Southern Response in relation to a class action brought against the insurer by a group of its customers.
  • Acted for Brendon Gibson and Neale Jackson of Korda Mentha as administrators of ten New Zealand registered companies in the CBL Group, including the ultimate parent company, CBL Corporation.
  • Acted for CrossFit, Inc. which sued Exercise Industry Association and its Chief Executive, Mr Beddie, in respect of public statements made by Beddie which wrongly stated that the CrossFit exercise regime had caused multiple deaths and serious injury, and which criticised CrossFit trainers.
  • Acting for the Commerce Commission in High Court proceedings against Wilson Parking.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp handles some of the most significant commercial disputes in New Zealand before all levels of the courts and a range of alternative dispute resolution fora. It frequently acts for large domestic and international companies in complex and high-stakes multi-jurisdictional proceedings. Justin Graham, who specialises in media, defamation, IP, privacy, IT and iwi matters, leads the national dispute resolution group from Auckland, where John McKay has more than 30 years' experience in construction, M&A, PI insurance and media law disputes. Newly promoted partner Laura Fraser is an experienced advocate and commercial litigator has appeared in all courts up to and including the Supreme Court. In Wellington, Daniel Kalderimis leads the firm's international law practice and is 'a good guy for international arbitration'. Bruce Scott is a senior dispute resolution expert who specialises in commercial and public law litigation, both in the High Court and in private arbitrations.

Practice head(s):

Justin Graham


“The team provides good strategic advice, has good litigation instincts, and works well with barristers. Their drafting/writing is also very solid.”

“They are experts in their field. Well resourced, they understand our business and values well and are able to provide advice and recommendations that are both commercial and pragmatic.”

“John Knight is one of New Zealand’s leading life insurance litigation experts. John and Bruce Scott have also both shown themselves to be impressive advocates for us in the courtroom when required.”

“The team has the ability to provide practical advice that is legally robust. They think outside the square to find solutions to problems. Their advice is clear and succinct, and can easily be used for advising non-lawyers within the business. They adapt the way they provide advice to the circumstances.”

“Tim Smith  is much more that a dispute resolution lawyer. He always has the endgame in mind and can help you navigate through complex processes. He understands the way private and public organisations work, and uses that knowledge to provide practical advice that helps you move things forward. You always feel that he has a strong commitment to getting your organisation the best outcome possible.”

“Extremely proactive and responsive, the firm has technical experts with a strong commercial overlay.”

“Daniel Kalderimis is extremely easy to work with. He’s very available and you always feel like you’re getting his full attention and considered, proactive, commercial, technically sound advice. A very safe pair of hands.”

Key clients

The Earthquake Commission (EQC)

BlueScope Steel Limited

New Zealand Transport Agency

Vector Limited

Paymark Limited

New Zealand Steel

Motion Picture Association of America

Mediaworks Limited

L&M Coal Holdings Ltd

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for four of the former directors of Mainzeal in the legal action following Mainzeal’s collapse, specifically claims of breaches of various directors’ duties.
  • Representing 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.
  • Advising Earthquake Commission (EQC) on all high-level disputes, including High Court proceedings with regards to the Christchurch earthquakes.
  • Acting for MediaWorks, New Zealand’s largest media company, in defending defamation and invasion of privacy claims.
  • Acted as counsel for the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust in its challenge to the Crown offering land within its traditional area of interest to other iwi groups as historical redress.


LeeSalmonLong is a specialist litigation firm that is highly regarded for its advocacy skills. The practice centres on three partners – Michael Heard, Tim Mullins and Isaac Hikaka – now that name partner Davey Salmon has left the firm to establish a new barristers' chambers. All three partners have led on trials and appeals before the Supreme Court. The firm acts in some of largest disputes before the New Zealand courts, which recently included representing Carter Holt Harvey in a claim brought by the Ministry of Education relating to schools throughout the country, and acting for the plaintiff growers in a class-action suit brought against the Ministry of Primary Industries.


‘A specialist litigation and a dispute resolution firm with significant expertise that is able to work as a team and provide superior service to a barrister sole. Experienced in complex commercial disputes.’

‘David Bullock provides impressive at legal analysis and written submissions, and is an outstanding courtroom junior.’

Key clients

Carter Holt Harvey Limited

Strathboss v Attorney General (class action)

Richina Pacific Limited / Richard Yan (and others)

Aronga Mana and Te Ipukurea Society

Drug Free Sport

Rosemary Webb

AMCOS (Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society)

The Spinoff

Jon Stephenson

Work highlights

  • 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 more than 800 school buildings across New Zealand.
  • Acting for the plaintiffs in Strathboss v Attorney General, the largest civil claim before the New Zealand Courts (in excess of NZ$450m), which involves questions of Crown liability to hundreds of kiwifruit growers affected by an outbreak of the PSA bacteria.
  • Acting for Richina Pacific Limited / Richard Yan (and others) in large-scale insolvency litigation arising from the failure of the Mainzeal business involving multimillion-dollar claims by liquidators.
  • Handling judicial review litigation for Aronga Mana and Te Ipukarea Society, involving the impact of international obligations and duties to indigenous persons in respect of industrial fishing, appeal before the Privy Council.
  • Ongoing advice to New Zealand’s anti-doping authority – Drug Free Sport – involving wide range of anti-doping violations.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts is 'very responsive and efficient, and the advice is clear, measured and delivered in a timely manner', according to one client. The firm has a large, full-service litigation practice that is frequently involved in the most complex, large-scale commercial and regulatory disputes. Among its clients are publicly listed and multinational corporations, public sector entities and regulators. Insolvency specialist Sean Gollin in Auckland leads the dispute resolution practice, which is home to several top-flight litigators. Zane Kennedy is leaving to start a new barristers' chambers, but the Auckland team still includes 30-year veteran litigator Mark Sandelin and Andrew Horne, who handles corporate and regulatory, financial services, technology and telecoms disputes. Wellington-based Stacey Shortall is a leading light in commercial litigation, health and safety matters, crisis management, white-collar criminal and regulatory proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Sean Gollin


‘The team is clearly very experienced and consistently added value in relation to a complex and fast-paced piece of litigation. Senior members of the team regularly made themselves available out of hours for calls or emails.’

‘Special counsel Ana Simkiss is very experienced, provides clear measured advice, and shows excellent attention to detail.’

‘Sean Gollin has a wealth of experience in commercial litigation, and is hands-on and responsive.’

Key clients

Taharoa Ironsands Limited (formally known as New Zealand Steel Mining Limited)

BDO New Zealand Limited

Aon New Zealand

Spark New Zealand Trading Limited

Bathurst Resources Ltd

The New Zealand Refining Company Limited (Refining NZ)

AIG/Ritchies Transport Holdings Ltd

GO Healthy New Zealand Limited

Rangatira Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting Taharoa Ironsands Limited (formally known as New Zealand Steel Mining Limited) in proceedings against Toward and NZSM for breach of the share sale agreement, and against Toward for breach of s9 Fair Trading Act/s 19 Financial Markets Conduct Act for its conduct in a share sale agreement.
  • Acting for Aon New Zealand – a subsidiary of the multinational insurance broking corporation – in proceedings brought against it by former client Lyttelton Port Company Limited in which it claimed over NZ$200m, comprising NZ$173m in damages plus interest and costs.
  • Acting for Spark New Zealand Trading Limited, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications company, in successfully striking out a multimillion-dollar claim against it by a telco competitor which alleged that Spark had misled and deceived the Commerce Commission into giving clearance for its acquisition of specific radio spectrum rights under the Commerce Act’s voluntary and publicly notified clearance regime.
  • Acting for Bathurst Resources Ltd in a US$40m coal mining dispute.
  • Acting for The New Zealand Refining Company Limited in an inquiry arising from a major fuel pipeline breach in September 2017.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh has 'the pre-eminent dispute resolution team in NZ', according to one client, who highlights its 'sharp, thoughtful and solution-oriented litigators'. The firm handles the full range of disputes work, including class actions, insolvency, construction and M&A disputes. In Auckland, national practice group chair Sarah Armstrong and her deputy Marika Eastwick-Field are the key partners. Last year, Armstrong's work included high-profile M&A litigation, four significant regulatory investitations and the leading case on the financial services exemption under the GST Act. In Auckland, Malcolm Crotty's broad practice includes commercial, employment and construction litigation, and Polly Pope handles high-profile judicial reviews and projects disputes. Up-and-coming partner Chris Curran in Wellington is recommended for  class actions, complex commercial and ICT disputes, and judicial reviews.

Practice head(s):

Marika Eastwick-Field


‘They are always up-to-date and ready to respond, and they provide exceptional client service and are enjoyable to work with.’

‘Sarah Armstrong is approachable, strategic and quick to act. Newly promoted partner Will Irving is technically excellent.’

‘They are wonderful people to work with. The likeability quotient is off the charts. This is so important – to like the people you work with day in, day out.’

‘Russell McVeagh is a market leader in focusing on understanding our business so that they can deliver timely, reliable advice.’

‘Polly Pope stands out in her ability to deliver technically accurate, succinct and strategically thoughtful advice to urgent timeframes.’

‘It has a responsive team that provides timely and clear advice. The team was mindful of costs and delegated to the appropriate staff level, and it gave a range of options available to achieve defined goals. It showed effective management of expert evidence and, during mediation, clearly set out the position and stood firm to achieve a good result.’

‘Polly Pope and Michelle Mau were excellent to deal with. They ensured we were fully apprised of the process and timeframes. They were accessible and responsive and a pleasure to work with.’

‘An unwavering client-first approach makes this practice unique. Russell McVeagh was outstanding in providing us with on-point, effective and clear advice. The firm is well resourced and the experience of their lawyers ensures your issue is given a comprehensive and efficient review.’

‘Polly Pope is an outstanding member of the Russell McVeagh partnership. She has unquestionable integrity, is totally approachable, and has the rare talent of being able to explain complex legal issues in a clear and concise manner. She is pragmatic, commercially astute and has a formidable knowledge of local and international dispute resolution practices.’

Key clients


Milk New Zealand (Shanghai) Co Limited

Credit Suisse

Rayonier Inc


Trade Me Group


Bath Street Capital


Provident Insurance

Work highlights

  • Acting for global electronics giant, Samsung, in high-profile litigation against a former call centre operator, SCC.
  • Acting for two Credit Suisse entities which were the issuer and promoter in the initial public offering of shares in Feltex Limited in 2004 and which are are defending claims for over NZ$200m brought as a class action on behalf of approximately 3,300 shareholders, alleging that the prospectus for the IPO was misleading.
  • Acting for Milk New Zealand (Shanghai) Co Limited in a dispute about the parties’ respective obligations in a UHT milk supply and purchase agreement.
  • Acting for Rayonier Inc in one of New Zealand’s largest commercial merger and acquisition disputes involving a breach of contract claim arising out of alleged disclosures of confidential information during the course of the defendant defending a contested takeover in the UK by Stafford of Phaunos Timber Fund Limited.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson 'has proven itself to be a trusted adviser and has a breadth of expertise it can call upon from across the firm', says one client. The firm has one of the largest dispute resolution groups in the country and has a wealth of technical, commercial and advisory expertise in a broad range of sectors. Jania Baigent in Auckland leads the national litigation practice. Former practice head Richard Lange is a leading light in commercial disputes for major corporate and local authority clients, and Anne Callinan is highly regarded for contentious competition matters. In Wellington, John Shackleton has more than 25 years' experience in complex contractual cases and tortious claims including professional negligence. In Christchurch, Helen Smith handles insurance matters alongside complex commercial cases including contractual, tortious and construction claims.

Practice head(s):

Jania Baigent


‘John Shackleton is a clear communicator, provides frank advice and is very capable in difficult conversations requiring diplomacy. He is well prepared so that he can provide advice the client needs but also be honest when he needs to consider matters further or seek the advice of others. He helps clients think beyond immediate issues.’

‘Nicole Taylor is calm and confident, knowledgeable and able to operate at speed. She is precise with language and communicates advice and information needs clearly. I would be confident using Nicole to advise on serious matters without the active involvement of a partner.’

‘The team at Simpson Grierson demonstrated its impressive capabilities in successfully representing two international defendants in a high-value dispute. It has very approachable people with a sense of dedication who deliver work of the highest calibre at a reasonable cost to the client.’

‘The firm has great technical expertise as well as being commercial and strategic.’

‘Helen Smith is a very capable lawyer who is pleasant to deal with and provides sound advice on complex issues.’

‘The firm has technical expertise in all aspects, along with breadth of knowledge across all departments of the firm, on which the appointed litigator can draw.’

‘Helen Smith is a leading expert in construction professional indemnity law. She is a tough litigator who leaves no stone unturned and is highly professional in her approach to clients and opposing practitioners alike.’

‘We are working on a Royal Commission of Inquiry, which requires specialist skills and an in-depth ability to understand the complex requirements for this setting. The team has set out to understand a very complex organisation and developed a strong rapport with the client. We rely on them to challenge our thinking and to present complex and historic information directly.’

‘Sally McKechnie has put together a specialist team that is working collaboratively with us. We value both their technical expertise and their grasp of the underlying societal issues that underpin this work.’

Key clients

BP Oil New Zealand

Adamantem Capital Management Pty Limited

New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Incorporated


Livestock Improvement Corporation

The Māori Television Service

Watercrae Services Ltd


CPB Contractors Pty Limited

Harmoney Services Limited


Google LLC

Fonterra Co-operative Group

DLF Seeds A/F

Statistics New Zealand


Auckland Council

Christchurch City Council

Wellington City Council

Financial Markets Authority

Chief Ombudsman


Nib Holdings Ltd

Fidelity Life

HDI Global SE, Australia

Credit International Suisse Trust

Work highlights

  • Assisting Adamantem Capital Management in successfully defending summary judgment proceedings and acting for them in substantive High Court proceedings brought in relation to its acquisition of Heritage Life Care Limited.
  • Advised BP Oil NZ Limited following damage to the fuel pipeline that supplies Auckland International Airport.
  • Acting for Auckland Council in its defence of judicial review proceedings brought by four large commercial accommodation owners and/or operators challenging the Council’s decision to introduce a targeted rate assessed on commercial accommodation providers.
  • Acted for the Financial Markets Authority in relation to a judicial review claim brought by the ANZ bank in relation to decisions made by the Financial Markets Authority as part of its investigation into New Zealand’s largest Ponzi scheme.
  • Acting for Credit Suisse Trust Limited and Lota Fiduciary in New Zealand in relation to trust-based claims (some derivative in nature) for damages.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper has a litigation practice that is highly regarded for commercial litigation, insurance litigation, distressed assets and construction disputes. It is frequently called upon by both domestic and international clients to advise on high-profile matters, which last year included a group action arising out of the Christchurch earthquake, a Supreme Court appeal on a preference claim against a property magnate, and a claim on behalf a public body regarding a complaint about the constraint of free speech. Dan Hughes, who frequently appears in the High Court, the Maori Land Court, Maori Appellate Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, leads the practice from Auckland. In Christchurch, Peter Woods is adept at commercial property, company law, contract interpretation, construction, defamation, franchise, insurance and IP disputes.

Practice head(s):

Dan Hughes


‘The firm has a very agile and flexible team of lawyers, and it is very diligent and easy to work with.’

‘Dan Hughes, Lynne Van and Harriet Quinlan are, at different levels of experience, standout performers.’

Key clients

Westpac New Zealand Ltd

Auckland Council

Maori Trustee

KiwiRail Limited – New Zealand’s national rail carrier

Auckland International Airport Ltd

First Credit Union

Home Owners & Buyers Association of New Zealand Inc (HOBANZ)

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand

Rodgers Reidy

VinLink Marlbourgh Limited

Lyttelton Port Company Ltd

Fulton Hogan

PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for ANZ Skytours New Zealand against Tourism New Zealand (the trading arm of the New Zealand Tourism Board, a government body) in a judicial review application.
  • Acting for the liquidators of Northern Crest Investments (parent of Blue Chip Group of companies).
  • Acted for Waiwera Properties Limited in a dispute with its tenant company, Waiwera Thermal Resort Limited (part of Waiwera Group).
  • Successfully obtained orders against a vexatious litigant who has been in litigation with Auckland Council (and its predecessor) for 25 years, preventing him from bringing further claims without Court permission for a period of 5 years.
  • Acting for the affected owners of Shed 24 apartments at Princes Wharf developed by infamous property developer, David Henderson in 2001.

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay has 'very good lawyers with strong ethics and a focus on consistent quality', according to a client. The firm has litigation capability in all three of its offices across New Zealand and is active in finance, property, construction, consumer goods and other commercial contract-related disputes, as well as insolvency, IP, judicial review and competition law-related litigation. Practice head Scott Barker, who primarily handles insolvency and banking disputes, leads the group from the Wellington office, where up-and-coming partner Sebastian Bisley is a highly regarded advocate. Willie Palmer in Christchurch is particularly notable for his representation of clients at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Canterbury earthquakes, as as well as engineering and construction disputes. Kelly Paterson is also recommended. Following the departure of Laura O'Gorman, who joined Bankside Chambers, the Auckland litigation team is now led by David Broadmore, who handles insolvency, banking and contract disputes.

Practice head(s):

Scott Barker


‘A very long-established national firm drawing on the skills of connections established throughout commerce and government. It has sound internal systems and is one of New Zealand’s front rank law firms. It is tenacious but principled in acting for clients.’

‘The standout partners include Willie Palmer and as a new junior partner Kelly Paterson in Christchurch; and Scott Barker and Seb Bisley in Wellington.”

‘Willie Palmer is an excellent litigation lawyer, as is Kelly Paterson.’

‘Seb Bisley gives very high-quality advice that is always sound and sensible.’

Key clients

Sky Network Television Limited

Electricity Authority

Miraka Limited

Bank of New Zealand

Auckland Council





Contact Energy Ltd

Southern Response Earthquake Services

General Electric



Spotless Facility Services

GHD Limited

Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd

GMP Pharmaceuticals Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for a group of creditors – Callaghan Innovation, Advicewise People Ltd, Bluestar Group (New Zealand) Ltd, Mediaworks Radio Ltd – challenging a Part 14 compromise under the Companies Act.
  • Acting for Southern Response in defending a class action brought by claimants who have settled their insurance claims and wish to revisit those settlements.
  • Acted for Contact Energy in High Court proceedings seeking declarations regarding the scope of the acceptable quality guarantee for electricity in the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993.
  • Successfully acting for New Zealand Industrial Park Ltd in opposition to an application to remove two restrictive covenants that benefit the land of those entities in circumstances where NZX listed Synlait Milk Limited had begun constructing a NZ$280m infant formula manufacturing plant on the burdened land.
  • Acting for Zespri International Limited in a successful application to strike out Shanghai Neuhof’s claim for recovery of an NZ$8m fine.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand climbs the ranking this year and clients praise its 'responsiveness, knowledge of clients' business and proactiveness'. Veteran litigator Iain Thain, who has almost 30 years' experience in the market,  leads the practice from Auckland. Last year he handled the largest insolvency matter in New Zealand, handled a High Court test case brought for power companies with transmission lines running through New Zealand's 1.8m hectares of plantation forests, and was involved in judicial review proceedings in relation to politically, socially and economically significant proposals to restrict the hours of sale for alcohol products. Newly promoted partner Alicia Murray has particular experience in matters involving competition law, Financial Markets Conduct Act, Fair Trading Act, Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act and the Protected Disclosure Act. Special counsel Emma Moran in Wellington is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

Iain Thain

Other key lawyers:

Alicia Murray; Emma Moran


‘Iain Thain is one of the best litigators in New Zealand.’

‘The firm has sound technical knowledge and a user-friendly manner.”

‘They are experts in our line of business, very knowledgeable, and we place a lot of trust in their comments.’

‘The team are very customer-focused, much more so than my experience of their competition. They don’t just deliver timely, pragmatic and well-priced advice, but they are proactive in ensuring customer satisfaction and delivering genuinely useful and targeted value adds.’

‘Emma Moran is an excellent lawyer – pragmatic, strategic and commercial and genuinely excellent in cutting straight to the key issues and delivering advice in a way that non-lawyers understand.’

‘The firm provides excellent service and extremely good knowledge, and it is easy to work with.’

‘The team exhibits incredible responsiveness. Callbacks are quick, qualified advice is freely and quickly given, with thorough follow up if required. I could not recommend Rachel Taylor highly enough. Responsiveness and quality of advice and absolutely key, and Rachel rocks.’

‘Rachel Taylor consistently ranks #1 in responsiveness and effectiveness in team surveys of suppliers and key members within those suppliers.’

Key clients

Foodstuffs North Island Limited and Foodstuffs South Island Ltd

Auckland Council


PB Technologies Ltd

Linsa Finance Ltd

Capital and Coast District Health Board

China Construction Bank

Heartland Bank

Mott MacDonald

Liquorland Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for NZ’s largest supermarket chain, Foodstuffs North Island Limited, in proceedings to determine whether the covenant is unenforceable for being anti-competitive on the basis that it has the purpose or effect (or is likely to have the effect) of substantially lessening competition in a market.
  • Acting for Linsa Finance Limited in a test case regarding the interpretation of the Credit Contract and Consumer Finance Act 2003.
  • Acting for Heartland Bank in proceedings against a guarantor of loans, Ms Christina Domecq, as well as identifying avenues, including the preparation of proceedings against third parties, for the recovery of secured assets.
  • Represented John Wood Group PLC in a successful mediation following a contractual dispute which included performance issues and allegations of wrongful termination.
  • Acting for Kare Johnstone and Andrew Grenfell in their roles as liquidators and formerly interim liquidators of CBL Insurance Limited.

Gilbert Walker

Gilbert Walker in Auckland has 'top-quality expertise in a modern collaborative practice', according to one client. The firm is a specialist advisory and dispute resolution practice with extensive experience in complex litigation and regulatory matters. Practice head Matthew Harris, who counts SKYCITY and TOWER Insurance among his clients, has more than 20 years' experience and often acts as leading or sole counsel in trials and other hearings. He frequently appears in appellate litigation. Martin Smith is a standout partner who appears in all courts for commercial and insurance clients, often as lead counsel. He counts Kiwi Property and ANZ Bank among his key clients. Associate Alexander Ho is a rising star in corporate and commercial disputes.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Harris


‘Martin Smith stands out for his pragmatic, commercial approach to dispute resolution and his outstanding client service.’

‘The firm is used to working on highly complex commercial litigation with highly demanding clientele and opposition. It is one of the best boutique litigation firms in NZ.’

‘Iva Rosic is highly expert, responsive, detailed, and hardworking, as is Martin Smith.’

‘Hamish McQueen is a very bright associate, very dedicated and competent.’

Key clients

ANZ Bank

Kiwi Property

SKYCITY Entertainment Group Ltd

Vector Ltd


Vero Liability Insurance Ltd


Jones Lang Lasalle

NZI Professional Risks (a division of IAG New Zealand)

Work highlights

  • Acting for former directors of Feltex in the liability and loss phase of the NZ$200m class action brought on behalf of more than 3,600 shareholder claimants arising from the Feltex IPO in 2004.
  • Successfully resisted an appeal by a party pursuing an insured surveyor working for WSP Opus, a leading construction and infrastructure consultancy, in relation to the survey of a parcel of land in the upper North Island.
  • Representing a private equity firm in a substantial claim arising from a failed purchase of an iron ore mine.
  • Acting for Jones Lang Lasalle, which brought proceedings against a former client to recover a substantial commission allegedly due on a long-term lease of the land occupied by a major film production facility.
  • Acted for The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated in a successful appeal to the Court of Appeal in relation to the interpretation of the legislative provisions governing a proposal to establish an opencast coal mine on West Coast reserve land. The mining company has been granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan is a leading firm for government and regulatory, infrastructure and competition litigation. The lead partners are David Campbell in Auckland and Hayden Wilson in Wellington. Campbell, who has a particular focus on competition law, product liability and liability insurance, is 'an experienced litigator who can navigate challenging personalities extremely well and professionally to secure a result', according to one client. Wilson leads on public law and regulatory matters, and is recommended for both litigation and mediation. 'Tenacious and fearless' senior associate Reece Leggett in Auckland is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

David Campbell; Hayden Wilson


‘Reece Leggett advocated our points fearlessly to the point of having shouting matches with the legal team of the plaintiff. He is a detailed litigator and identified a number of issues from the discoveries of the plaintiffs and of us, the defender.’

‘We were grateful to have such an honest devil’s advocate as Reece Leggett on our team to provide reality checks. Often, lawyers would say to clients what we like to hear but Reece would analyse the situation and provide an honest view, both good and bad.’

‘The team of David Campbell the wily strategist and the tenacious Reece Leggett successfully prosecuted our case well to secure the settlement.’

‘The firm is good at dealing with particularly tricky issues which involve the media and politics.’

‘Hayden Wilson can be relied on for a calm head under pressure. He doesn’t shy away from particularly tricky issues and thinks ahead.’

‘Linda Clark has the unique skill of being able to see a dispute from a bird’s eye view and is able to help with activating other initiatives that can help with resolving the dispute. She is beyond reproach in the strategic, big-picture way she deals with issues.’

‘Thanks to David Campbell and Reece Leggett’s clarity of thinking in identifying the key issues, the case progressed was of great value and kept the litigation focused and on track.’

‘Richard Monigatti  was most thorough in his approach, showing knowledge and maturity beyond his years and working tirelessly on the case to see that we met all key timelines.’

Key clients

Bioxyne Limited

Rachel MacGregor

NZ Transport Agency

Ministry of Social Development

Tourism NZ

Engineering New Zealand

Pharmacy Council of New Zealand

Serco New Zealand / Serco Asia Pacific

The Herrick Corporation

Clarke Gayford

Work highlights

  • Represented Bioxyne, an Australian life sciences and health products company listed on the ASX that sells products through multilevel marketing, in the defence of 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.
  • Represented Rachel MacGregor in the confidential settlement of a sexual harassment claim against her former employer, the prominent politician and then-leader of the Conservative Party, Colin Craig.
  • Acted for New Zealand Transport Agency in a High Court claim arguing that the Transport Agency should offer back land acquired under the Public Works Act over a number of years.
  • Acted for The Ministry of Social Development in a dispute with a landlord over several aspects of a tenancy over a number of years.
  • Acting for Tourism New Zealand in a judicial review of its decision to recommend the revocation of its Approved Destination Status from a tour operator.


Lowndes has an active and highly regarded litigation practice that, though small, is frequently involved in international disputes. The firm handles the full range of commercial disputes, as well as litigation in its specialist areas of shipping, aviation, insurance, IP and insolvency. In Auckland, practice head Michael McCarthy has a prominent role in contentious shipping matters and Mike Whale is one of the country's leading lawyers for contentious insolvency. The firm recently acted for the single largest off-shore creditor in the CBL Insurance collapse, which is among the most high-profile cases in the market, and McCarthy oversaw the conclusion of litigation spinning out of the Rena shipwreck, which is one of the largest-ever litigations in New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Michael McCarthy

Other key lawyers:

Mike Whale; Tim Jeffcott

Key clients


P&I Services

Wilaci Pty Limited

Elite Insurance Company Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for Mike Pero Mortgages in proceedings against Mike Pero to recover sums taken by him without the knowledge of MP Mortgages in excess of NZ$2.4m.
  • Acted for Elite Insurance Company, registered in Gibraltar, as the largest creditor of CBL whose claim accounted for approximately 68% of CBL’s outstanding claims liabilities.
  • Led the complex Rena Shipwreck matter, where we advise the owners of the Rena Shipwreck and its P&I and hull insurers (The Swedish Club), on all issues arising from the largest ever maritime incident to have occurred on the New Zealand Coast, and the second most expensive wreck removal operation ever in the world (behind the Costa Concordia).
  • Acting for an Australian entity which loaned a substantial sum to a New Zealand limited partnership which was to be redomiciled out of New Zealand.
  • Acted for the liquidators in this claim which was brought by the Official Assignee under the Insolvency Act 2006 arising from the bankruptcy of Edward Harman who was the director of five companies in liquidation.

Wilson Harle

Wilson Harle in Auckland is a specialist, high-end commercial litigation firm that handles commercial, regulatory and public law disputes, as well as providing related strategic, risk management and compliance advice. Its key partners Chris Browne, Allison Ferguson, Ian Denton and Felicity Monteiro have expertise in the media, technology, insurance and financial services, telecommunications, gambling, healthcare, construction, shipping and transport sectors, and they count large corporates including Vodafone New Zealand among their clients. Alongside a busy roster of commercial litigation, the firm also handles complex and high-value trust disputes, defamation and media litigation, contentious competition and commercial services regulation matters. It also has a place on the All of Government External Legal Services litigation panel.

Key clients

Joan Withers

Vodafone New Zealand Limited

New Zealand Retail Property Group Limited

Wilson Parking NZ Limited

Body Corporate 207624 (Spencer and Byron)

Auckland District Health Board

Gambling Commission

MidCentral DHB

Callaghan Innovation

Jim Drinnan, Chris Drinnan and Drinnan Properties 2015 Ltd

Global Farmland Fund Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing a leading NZ director in defending claims arising from Securities Act in respect of the IPO of Feltex Carpets Ltd.
  • Advising and representing Vodafone on alleged breaches of the Fair Trading Act and other contentious matters.
  • Representing developer of a major new town centre, New Zealand Retail Property Group Limited, in proceedings alleging the Council breached contracts regarding the form of the town.
  • Acting for defendant, Wilson Parking New Zealand Limited, in Commerce Commission enforcement proceeding under the Commerce Act over non-notified acquisition.
  • Representing the Body Corporate of a substantial tower apartment building in proceedings against former lawyers regarding area for distribution of leaky building litigation proceeds.

Fee Langstone

Fee Langstone in Auckland is best known for its insurance expertise, but its work for major domestic and overseas insurers has led it to develop a strong foothold in commercial litigation for its insurer clients’ insured organisations. The firm, which joins this year's ranking, has been involved in some of the most significant commercial disputes in New Zealand and represented one of the defendants in the Feltex class-action shareholder claim, which went to the Supreme Court in 2018. Last year, the firm handled matters in District Courts, High Courts and the Court of Appeal. Philippa Fee, Pauline Davies, Matthew Atkinson and newly promoted Russell Stewart are the lead litigation partners.


‘The firm provides personalised service, excellent knowledge of professional indemnity issues, pragmatic and realistic advice, and it is prepared to use senior counsel when required.’

‘They are personable, knowledgeable and available.’

‘Fee Langstone is a unique practice as they are very approachable and highly capable. They take pride in understanding their clients’ needs and have a high focus on delivering outcomes. They are an honest firm that understands their professional boundaries and limitations. As a result, they are a great asset to the insurance litigation sector.’

‘Philippa, Craig, Russell, Virginia and Matt are all excellent partners of the firm who are highly knowledgeable. They understand and value the practical aspects that insurance litigation requires which truly sets them our from other firms in the same field.’

‘The Fee Langstone team has very smart, capable lawyers with an in-depth knowledge of insurance law and a good understanding of an insurer’s perspective.’

‘Philippa Fee is an experienced and effective courtroom lawyer who has had some good wins for us at trial. Virginia Wethey always gets to the point quickly and can get on top of complicated legal issues.’

‘The firm has vast experience in dispute resolution, predominantly from the firm’s main insurer clients. However, as much of this work is dispute resolution, the firm has a strong experience in litigation and resolution of all manner of disputes from construction, contract, professional negligence and directors and officer type litigation.’

‘Philippa Fee is a standout litigator and has an excellent grasp of the law, and a sound commercial acumen. The other senior fee earners, including Cecily Brick and Matthew Atkinson, also have excellent experience.’

‘Fee Langstone has a good cross-section of litigation lawyers at all levels which allows them to provide a cost-effective service. They are consistently excellent to deal with: friendly, responsive and skilful.’

‘Philippa Fee is our go-to lawyer for anything complex particularly in the construction space – she has a fantastic ability to condense pages of complex technical information into a digestible summary and the ability to cut through the legalese to make clear recommendations for a commercial settlement.’

‘The firm has really deep knowledge of all aspects of insurance law and the claims that can arise. They are approachable and give pragmatic advice.’

‘Philippa Fee, Virginia Wethey, Craig Langstone and Pauline Davies are my standout individuals.’

‘Philippa Fee is the doyenne of insurance law in New Zealand. She has a very deep knowledge and brings gravitas through her experience and reputation, particularly in liability related issues.’

‘Virginia Wethey is very calm, smart and thoughtful. She approaches difficult issues by breaking them down into manageable stages to get to a resolution. She is also very personable.’

‘Craig Langstone thinks very laterally and often outside the box. He can bring a fresh viewpoint to situations.’

‘Pauline Davies’ knowledge of marine law and pragmatism to get a resolution are appreciated.’

‘Fee Langstone’s principal area of practice is insurance law, and they cover virtually all aspects. They are well-resourced and highly engaged. They are the best example of a smaller specialised practice, and their depth of talent and skill is unparalleled in the NZ market.’

‘Cecily Brick is a skilled practitioner handling highly complex insurance matters. She is a highly intelligent practitioner who has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of insurance law. Her opinions tread the difficult line of both showing the nuances of the law while remaining highly practical and commercial. She is a highly effective advocate in trials. I have instructed many of NZ’s insurance lawyers, and Cecily is right at the top.’

‘Fee Langstone is an excellent firm for PI claims that require innovative solutions and speedy settlements. The team are mindful that it is often better to settle a claim quickly and cost-effectively.’

‘I tend to work with Philippa Fee and Virginia Wethey. They are both pragmatic and know the value of an early settlement in PI claims. They give timely, thoughtful advice and identify indemnity issues as soon as possible.’

Key clients

Crombie Lockwood

First NZ Capital

KPMG Ireland

Lloyds of London (various syndicates)

NCI Commercial Collections


QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd

NZI & NZI Marine

Vero Insurance (NZ)

Zurich New Zealand

Zurich Australia

Work highlights

  • Defending a claim against an auditor arising out of alleged inappropriate accounting practices by the audited company.
  • Representing a private client in defending proceedings brought by the Commissioner of Police under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.
  • Involved in a claim that proceeded to trial in relation to a recovery action against a helicopter maintenance engineering business alleging defective workmanship.
  • Represented First NZ Capital (FNZC) in the Feltex litigation, in which the Supreme Court dismissed the claim against FNZC.
  • Representing a private client defending High Court proceedings involving claim by former business partner in international partnership dispute.

K3 Legal

K3 Legal in Auckland handles a broad range of litigation as part of a boutique practice that works on civil and commercial matters as well as contentious insolvency, property, construction, resource management and relationship property disputes. The firm also handles a growing volume of criminal matters through associate Julie Ding. The key litigation partner is James Nolen who handles civil and commercial disputes, as well as contentious insolvency matters. He frequently acts for leading insolvency practitioners such as KPMG, Deloitte and PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency, but his broader litigation practice sees him involved in cross-border disputes for directors, shareholders and large corporates.

Practice head(s):

James Nolen

Key clients

May Kwan

Michael Kidd

Treasure River Enterprise Limited

Sharma & Ors

Mangawhai Property Limited

Vasundhara Enterprises Limited

Forestlands N.Z. Limited

Zhong Li

Work highlights

  • Acting for one of six directors sued by the liquidators of Mainzeal Property and Construction for breach of director duties.
  • Acting for 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.
  • Acting for a Hong Kong-registered company trying to recover approximately HKD35m (NZ$6.15m) lent for the purpose of conducting a venture to buy and sell food products, in particular, milk powder for infants within New Zealand, Australia, China and Hong Kong.
  • Acting for a wealthy extended family who entrusted their banking affairs to an employee who embezzled over NZ$5m for a number of years.
  • Acting for Mangawhai Property Limited in the sell down of certain properties to ensure the first ranking mortgagee is repaid, which required an application to the High Court for removal of caveats under urgency.

Lindsay Litigation & Arbitration Limited

The team at Lindsay Litigation & Arbitration Limited in Auckland is 'focused and provides service at the highest calibre'. The firm, founded in 2017, is a dispute resolution boutique that has quickly found a foothold in the New Zealand market. Practice Timothy Lindsay and newly promoted partner Tom Pasley are the key practitioners. Lindsay founded the firm following his return to New Zealand from the London office of Dechert LLP. He is frequently involved in high-profile corporate and regulatory disputes for leading domestic and international clients, notably in the retail, financial services, dairy, IT, real estate, entertainment and aviation sectors. Pasley focuses on commercial disputes and has particular expertise in complex contractual disputes, company and securities law, banking and finance disputes, competition law, regulatory investigations, professional negligence and class actions.

Practice head(s):

Timothy Lindsay

Other key lawyers:

Tom Pasley


‘Tim Lindsay cares about his clients and provides careful attention to their matters.’

‘Nimble and responsive, the lawyers are always available to provide timely and accurate advice.’

‘Tim Lindsay is very smart and exceptionally good at distilling the arguments to key points, He is tough and resolute in the pursuit of his clients’ interests.’

‘Tim Lindsay was recommended because of his previous successful track record in litigation and arbitration. He rapidly grasped the issues involved, assessed the options, provided practical sound advice and executed agreed instructions in a timely manner.’

‘I have no hesitation in recommending the firm and its principal to other organisations.’

‘The team operates seamlessly to provide excellent quality advice and support in a timely manner. The team is bright, hardworking and inventive when required to meet clients’ interests.’

‘Tim Lindsay is an excellent operator with a lovely calm and assured manner.’

Key clients

Bunnings Limited

K Mart (New Zealand)

Eight Mile Style LLC

Robert Jones Holdings Limited

Liquidators of Forex NZ Limited

Bulletproof Group Limited and Bulletproof Networks Pty Limited

New Zealand Warbirds

Jersey Oil & Gas Limited

Paramount Marketing Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting in a significant prosecution by New Zealand competition and fair trading regulator the New Zealand Commerce Commission against Bunnings Limited, one of New Zealand’s largest retailers and owned by Australia’s Wesfarmers, alleging breaches of consumer protection laws relating to Bunnings’ advertising.
  • Representing Bulletproof Group Limited and Bulletproof Networks Pty Limited, formerly Australia’s leading cloud technology company, in post-M&A litigation arising from its acquisition of New Zealand based-cloud services provider Cloud House.
  • Successfully acting for Eight Mile Style LLC, the plaintiff rights holders of Eminem song Lose Yourself (of movie 8 Mile fame), in high-profile and precedent-setting copyright litigation against the New Zealand National Party (one of NZ’s two main political parties) for their unauthorised use of the song Lose Yourself in political advertising during a recent national election campaign.
  • Acted for Australian retail group Coles, trading as K Mart (New Zealand), one of the country’s leading retailers, in IP litigation brought by international clothing manufacturer Globe International Limited, alleging breach of copyright by K Mart in relation to a popular line of clothing.
  • Acting for the liquidators of Forex NZ Limited in various ongoing recovery actions against various parties in arising from the Forex NZ ‘Ponzi scheme’ in which investors have lost almost NZ$10m.

Tompkins Wake

Tompkins Wake handles high-level commercial and private client litigation and arbitration for large, nationally recognised clients with disputes involving dairy industry regulation, agribusiness, insurance, energy, telecommunications, intellectual property, aviation and property. The firm also has a strong local government practice, which calls on the disputes resolution practice to handle commercial and property litigation, judicial review, electoral matters, tendering, rates disputes, employment and defamation cases. In Hamilton, Mark Hammond leads the leads the employment and health and safety practice; James MacGillivray leads on commercial litigation and counts Air New Zealand among his key clients; Stephanie Ambler is head of the relationship property practice; and Kate Cornegé has extensive experience in regulated industries such as dairy, energy and telecommunications.

Practice head(s):

Mark Hammond

Key clients

Air New Zealand

Open Country Dairy Limited

Rotorua Lakes Council

Hamilton City Council

WEL Networks Limited

South Waikato District Council

IBC Japan Limited

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 a private individual in respect of interest and cost issues in the Supreme Court, High Court and Court of Appeal.
  • Represented Hamilton City Council in opposing an application by Skycity Entertainment Group to amend licence conditions for Hamilton Casino.
  • Represented the Insolvency Administrator of Alpha Insurance A/S in relation to the liquidation of CBL Insurance Limited.

Wynn Williams

At Wynn Williams, 'the team is efficient, empathetic, commercially savvy and focused on achieving good results'. Known for the strength of its in-house advocacy skills, the firm handles commercial disputes, contentious trusts and estates, insurance and employment matters. Jeremy Johnson and Anthony Drake in Auckland, along with Joshua Shaw in Christchurch, are the lead partners. Clients describe Johnson as 'intellectually strong with very good emotional intelligence, which helps his client make good decisions in the face of ambiguity'. The recruitment of relationship property partner Andrew Watkins in Christchurch from Duncan Cotterill and construction partner Rebecca Saunders in Auckland from Lane Neave has helped the firm expand the range of its litigation practice.


‘Jeremy Johnson prepared extremely well for negotiations and mediations and left a leading QC in the shade. His reasonable and courteous approach was undoubtedly a factor in the successful resolution of the dispute. His strong intellect and street smarts helped navigate some difficult issues. His writing and advocacy skills are first class.’

‘Jeremy Johnson displays tact and courtesy to all involved and has outstanding advocacy skills. He is easily a match for the leading QC in the field and should be recognised as a leading practitioner in trusts and relationship property himself.’

‘Jeremy Johnson is patient, quietly determined and gives his clients a strong feeling that they are in a safe pair of hands. I cannot recommend him highly enough. In terms of overall value for money, his advice was worth every cent.’

‘There is a high level of partner engagement and proactiveness.’

‘Jeremy Johnson has a high level of intelligence overlaid with commercial practicality, and he is very articulate.’

‘Wynn Williams understands our business well and offers advice that takes into account not only the legal issues but also relevant political and practical issues.’

‘The solicitors’ responses are always timely and thorough.’

Key clients

Redwood Group Ltd

John McLaughlin and Andrew McLaughlin

Cullen Group Limited

PLF Services Limited

Colliers International Valuation (CHCH) Limited

PGW Rural Capital Limited

Church Property Trustees

Adam Banks

Guy Shallard

Boss Transport Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Redwood Group Limited in a NZ$20m trust and prejudiced shareholder claim.
  • Acting for beneficiaries seeking the removal of trustees and suing them for breach of trust.
  • Represented the plaintiff, Cullen Group Limited, in one of New Zealand’s largest tax cases.
  • Acting for the plaintiff liquidators, PLF Services Limited, in pursuing directors for insolvent trading with damages in excess of NZ$20m.
  • Acting for a client, Colliers International Valuation (CHCH) Limited, being sued as a third party for providing negligent valuations for the insurance of the Lyttelton Port.