Firms To Watch: Dispute resolution

As one of New Zealand’s largest public interest and litigation firms, Meredith Connell has a strong and extensive track record representing the Government, private sector clients and individuals in cross cultural dispute resolution, commercial litigation, arbitration and in enforcement of overseas judgments. Areas of expertise include class actions, public law, professional and regulatory investigations, white-collar crime and Maori law.

Dispute resolution in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully‘s dispute resolution practice maintains a top-tier rank owing to its experience appearing as senior counsel in trials and appeals at all levels of the New Zealand court system. Areas of particular prominence are commercial and corporate disputes, insurance, public law disputes, Maori law, and a growing white-collar crime practice. The practice has added considerable talent and cross-border expertise to its litigation team with the hire of six new senior associates, many of whom were recruited from London offices of international firms, in addition to the partnership promotion of Kirsty Dobbs and Blair Keown. Simon Ladd and Keown successfully defended Genesis Energy in High Court proceedings concerning novel claims of its alleged responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. Practice head David Friar continues to act for The Fletcher Construction Company on substantial insurance claims regarding responsibility for fire damage that began at the New Zealand International Conference Centre in late 2019. Sophie East leads complex commercial, banking disputes and arbitrations, often supported by senior associate Richard Massey. Clients say the duo ‘make a great team and provide clear and pragmatic advice.’ Tim Fitzgerald  has a strong record in insolvency, and regulatory investigation matters, while Jesse Wilson is noted for company law and construction disputes. All named individuals are based in Auckland. In Wellington, Jenny Stevens maintains a busy litigious competition law practice, which is complemented by Dobbs’ experience in oil and gas, health law and judicial reviews.

Practice head(s):

David Friar; Rachael Brown


‘Sophie East, Partner, is calm and directive. She has the ability to look outside the square when problem solving.’

‘Richard Massey, Senior Associate, writes clearly and concisely. He has the ability to digest complicated matters quickly to help problem solve.’

‘Sophie East and Richard Massey make a great team. They provide clear and pragmatic advice. They divide and conquer as necessary so that we can keep a lid on expenses.’

‘The Bell Gully team are extremely competent and hard working. Their availability is exceptional, and they respond in a timely fashion and provide clear guidance.’

‘Standout partners: David Friar and Tim Fitzgerald. Both provide excellent advice regarding merits of disputes and strong tactical advice how to navigate disputes. Both have also got us out of ambiguous situations – David by making an exceptional case around taking a modern interpretation to antiquated legislation, and Tim in systematically demolishing a suppliers usurious and opportunistic claim against us. ‘

‘I always value Bell Gully’s advice as being honest and their commercial view of the likelihood of success and options to improve our bargaining position. I see them more than solicitors, they are trusted advisers.’


Key clients

Air New Zealand

Arena Living

Asia Pacific Village Group

Auckland Council

AWN Holdings

Electricity Authority

Fletcher Construction Company

Frucor Suntory New Zealand

Fruit Shippers N

Genesis Energy

Work highlights

  • Acted for Asia Pacific Village Group in High Court proceedings concerning the termination of a NZ$1.5bn purchase agreement. This case was significant given its size, the novel issues that it raised relating to material adverse change clauses, and its assessment of the impact of COVID-19.
  • Acting for Genesis in defending a High Court claim brought by a private individual against seven New Zealand companies. The claim asserts three novel private law causes of action against each defendant: public nuisance, negligence, and breach of an inchoate duty. This is the first time that a private law claim has been brought in New Zealand in respect of the greenhouse gas emissions of private businesses. It involves complex issues of legal duties and the interaction of the alleged duties with New Zealand’s statutory climate change regime.
  • Representing the plaintiff, Arena Living Holdings Limited, in a dispute arising from a sale and purchase agreement with Lendlease Capital Services Pty Limited of five retirement villages for a total of $240m.

Chapman Tripp

Clients describe Chapman Tripp as the ‘Rolls Royce of litigation’; the team impresses with its ‘unique mix of academic power‘ yet remaining ‘friendly and informal‘. Noted for its adeptness in multi-jurisdictional, contentious commercial matters, the team which is led by Justin Graham from Auckland, also demonstrates strong expertise in international arbitration, construction, insurance and in regulatory proceedings brought by the Inland Revenue and the Financial Markets Authority. Laura Fraser and Rachael Jones are continuing to represent Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust in a lengthy and highly publicized judicial review proceeding involving the interplay of customary rights and the statutory settlement processes for historical grievances against indigenous tribes. Elsewhere, the Wellington team, led by Nicola Swan, are acting for NZ Steel in two applications for judicial review of the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ decisions not to impose countervailing duties on the import of certain steel products from China. Auckland based commercial litigators John McKay and Michael Arthur are also noted, as is Tim Smith , in Wellington. Daniel Kalderimis is now a barrister at Richmond Chambers.

Practice head(s):

Justin Graham


‘A number of things set this team apart from other firms, including the team’s knowledge and application of tikanga and te reo Māori and their unique mix of academic power and informal ‘relatedness’- they are a Rolls Royce litigation team but are also friendly and informal and able to relate to all levels within our organisation to get the best out of our expert witnesses and translate the complex detail of litigation and strategy to those from all walks of life.’

‘Rachael Jones stands out as the lynch pin holding all the details of complex litigation matters together and being the go-between between the firm and QC and us as the client. The team all have taken the time to deeply understand us as a client, our drivers and values as well as our governance requirements which can be complex and difficult to navigate. They all remain calm and unflappable. We like working with CT because they have a lot of very clever quirky people in their teams.’

Key clients

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

  • Acting for three of seven defendants Fonterra, Z Energy and Dairy Holdings in the first litigation in New Zealand against corporate defendants for liability for damage caused by climate change. The claim seeks injunctions that would shut down the business operations of seven major New Zealand companies.
  • Defended Chorus New Zealand Limited against a claim brought by Chorus New Zealand alleging misuse of confidential information, and CDS’ subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal.
  • Acted for then-NZX-listed Metlifecare Limited in litigation arising from the scheme implementation agreement for the sale of 100% of its shares to APVG, an entity owned by European-based private equity firm EQT Infrastructure IV Fund.


Auckland litigation boutique, LeeSalmonLong is highly recommended for its breadth of expertise in both trials and appeals, including appearing before the Supreme Court. Pro-bono work is a prominent part of the practice; its five partners regularly appear on behalf of NGO’s, such as Greenpeace, and act for vulnerable individuals. Michael Heard is leading Carter Holt Harvey’s defence of a claim by the Ministry of Education and others relating to alleged defects in building products, and Tim Mullins is ‘an intellectual powerhouse with a keen eye for strategy’; he specialises in contentious commercial, regulatory and financial services. Isaac Hikaka is distinguished for his cross-jurisdictional litigation experience, including in the Cook Islands. Trusts, public and sports law are his areas of strength. Rachel Keane for product liability and  Daniel Nilsson for media and IP disputes, are strongly recommended, alongside associates David Bullock and Steven MaChing.

Other key lawyers:

David Bullock; Steven MaChing


‘LSL is a dispute resolution firm only and doesn’t have corporate, banking etc lawyers. That and they are dispute resolution focussed and their culture is based around that. They have good tech and tech savvy lawyers. They have a good mix of people and the firm has very modern beliefs and ethics.’

‘I’ve found LSL to always be commercially minded, responsive and professional.’

‘Michael Heard, Partner – strategic, clear, articulate, constructive and practical. Low key and very easy to deal with.’

‘Steven MaChing, Associate – tech savvy, able to process incredibly large workload and volumes of data including discovery etc without breaking a sweat. Extremely easy to deal with and always seeking to please. Great career ahead of him.’

‘They are strategic, focussed on the important points, and understand what is needed to resolve disputes effectively and efficiently. Michael Heard and Tim Mullins are particularly impressive, within an already impressive group.’

‘Tim Mullins is thoughtful and experienced. An intellectual powerhouse with a keen eye for strategy.’

‘Daniel Nilsson is an imperturbable, safe pair of hands.’

‘David Bullock is a rising star. Michael Heard and Adam Macdonald also deserve mention.’

Key clients

Orbis Blockchain Technologies Ltd

Te Ipukurea Society


Emirates Team New Zealand

Drug Free Sport New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Lead counsel for Orbis Blockchain Technologies Limited in cross-border litigation relating to disputes between investors and founders of Orbis and a related company. The matter is complex, involving disputes over rights to cryptocurrency and the operation of NFT properties and digital licenses.
  • Acting for TVNZ in relation to a claim by Deaf people advocacy group Deaf Action in the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The claim concerns the extent of TV news broadcasters’ obligations to accommodate access for persons with disability, and whether that obligation includes the provision of New Zealand Sign Language interpretation of news contents.
  • Acting for an environmental organisation, Te Ipukurea Society, and representatives of the indigenous leaders of the Cook Islands in a judicial review over the issue of fishing licences to foreign tuna fishers. The claim alleges breach of obligations in relation to scientific information, breach of obligations under international law given transboundary harm and breach of Constitutional obligations in respect of recognition of customary law in the Cook Islands.


The ‘technically excellent, commercially savvy‘ and ‘highly responsive‘ team at MinterEllisonRuddWatts are best known for representing New Zealand’s leading corporates, banks, public sector bodies and high-profile individuals in a range of commercial litigation matters, spanning regulatory, white collar crime, insolvency and insurance-related disputes It also has a strong track record in cross-border mandates across the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Auckland, Andrew Horne has 25 years’ experience in disputes within the financial services, technology and telecoms sectors. From the same office, Jane Standage regularly acts on investigations by the Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank. Oliver Skilton ‘thinks outside the box‘ and is noted for commercial disputes, as is Nick Frith  for insurance disputes and defending negligence claims against brokers. The Wellington office houses Richard Gordon, whose work encompasses banking disputes, property law and insolvency. Stacey Shortall is recommended for environmental, insurance and white-collar criminal issues. Corporate partner Briony Davies is also central to the team.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Horne; Jane Standage


‘Technically excellent, commercially savvy, pragmatic solution experienced focussed people. Highly responsive , very willing to engage and understand the business imperatives and challenges and to work very collaboratively to identify and strategise business solutions and outcomes whilst identifying and addressing the legal risks and requirements.’

‘Briony Davies and Antonia Leggat are an absolute pleasure to work with. They go above and beyond all the time. Their advice is always considered and having to wade through incredibly complex subject matter doesn’t phase them at all.’

‘Richard Gordon’s understanding of our business, responsiveness and the outcomes achieved for us make him stand out. In particular Richard’s guidance on some sensitive negotiations has been extremely valuable.’

‘Oliver Skilton- Super responsive, thinks outside the box, solution focussed. Highly collaborative.’

Key clients


Bathurst Resources Limited

ANZ Bank of New Zealand

Refining NZ



Bank of New Zealand

Viagogo AG

Mainzeal Construction liquidators


Work highlights

  • Advising Synlait in a successful Supreme Court appeal arising from its construction of a $280m dairy processing factory on land that was subject to restrictive covenants, prohibiting its use for purposes other than farming or forestry.
  • Representing Bathurst on a US$40m coal mining rights dispute in one of the most significant contractual cases for New Zealand in recent years, in which the Supreme Court is considering the approach to the admissibility of extrinsic evidence, the distinction between interpretation and implication, and the appropriate test for implication of terms, into commercial contracts.
  • Representing the liquidators in a high profile 8-week trial in the High Court and 1-week appeal in the Court of Appeal against the directors of Mainzeal Property and Construction Ltd, and two related companies for breach of directors’ duties, reckless trading, knowing receipt and transactions for inadequate consideration. Both decisions broke new ground for the approach taken to liability and to the assessment of loss for insolvent trading.

Simpson Grierson

Jania Baigent heads the disputes practice at Simpson Grierson, which is well-placed to undertake complex litigation in competition and regulatory, public, tax, insurance, construction and privacy law, among many others. Baignent often appears in high profile cases involving defamation and privacy-related issues. In one example, she is acting in defamation proceedings concerning the balance between freedom of expression and protection of reputation in the “blogosphere”. Former practice head Richard Lange continues to advise extensively on banking, insurance and professional liability and negligence issues. Firm chair Anne Callinan is highly active in competition, securities law and investigations. All partners are based in Auckland. The Wellington litigation team comprises John Shackleton, an expert on commercial, contractual and tortious claims, and public lawyer, Sally McKechnie.

Practice head(s):

Jania Baigent


‘Sally McKechnie outstanding in public law, thoughtful and engaged in her dealings with clients and witnesses.’

‘The practice has depth of experience in key areas, especially in public law.’

‘Exceptional communication skills.’

Key clients

BP Oil New Zealand

Financial Markets Authority


Watercare Services Limited

Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited

New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Incorporated



Work highlights

  • Defending the former Chairman and another non-executive director of ASX-listed Arowana International Limited (now AWN Holdings Limited) in a class action proceeding concerning the failure of Arowana’s subsidiary, NZX-listed Intueri Education Group Limited.
  • Defending Auckland Council in judicial review proceedings brought by commercial accommodation owners and/or operators challenging the Council’s decision to introduce a targeted rate assessed on commercial accommodation providers.
  • Acting as the lead legal negotiator in City Rail Link Limited’s below ground acquisition programme. It has been instructed to act in all mediations to settle compensation for the City Rail Link project. The City Rail Link project is the largest transport infrastructure project ever to be undertaken in New Zealand.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper is particularly active in the commercial, construction and insurance litigation spaces. Public law, property law disputes and claims resulting from natural disasters are also growing areas of work, particularly for Christchurch based Peter Woods ,who is experienced in claims generated by the earthquakes in Christchurch and Canterbury, having led the first High Court trial against Southern Response Earthquake Services. In the construction and insolvency space, Auckland based Dan Hughes ‘is a tough but sensible litigator’. Lynne Van is likewise recommended for contentious insolvency and commercial issues.

Practice head(s):

Dan Hughes

Other key lawyers:

Peter Woods; Lynne Van


‘The firm is nimble, creative and extremely good with clients and advocacy alike. Dan Hughes is the stand out performer.’

‘Dan Hughes is a tough but sensible litigator. He is responsive, efficient and clearly well liked and respected by his clients. He can see clearly the right route for successfully resolving problems, and is decisive.’

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Ltd

Avior Consulting Pty Limited

Coca-Cola Amatil

First Credit Union

Fulton Hogan

Goodman Fielder

Lyttelton Port Company Ltd

Maori Trustee


Mercedes-Benz New Zealand

Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited (Ngāti Awa)

Work highlights

  • Acting for the liquidators of CBL Insurance on a breach of directors’ duties claim following the collapse of the company. The collapse of the CBL Group (with trading arms across the world) has been widely publicised with an estimated loss of NZ$747 million arising as a result of the collapse of parent company, CBL Corporation. It is the first case in New Zealand involving the collapse of an insurance company.
  • Acting for Mr Tu’isila, Matai (chief) of the Tu’isila tribe in Samoa, in respect of his claim for the reclassification and return of customary land on the island of Namu’a in Samoa.
  • 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.

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay is home to highly rated teams in each of its Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices. Core areas of expertise include debt recovery and cases concerning financial services, contract disputes, property, construction and earthquake-related disputes; Willie Palmer in Christchurch has extensive experience of the latter work. Commercial litigator Scott Barker chairs the national disputes team from Wellington; he continues to appear on several complex, contentious insolvency cases, and regulatory matters and investigations. Seb Bisley is recognised for his ability to ‘navigate through complex situations‘ in commercial disputes. Senior associate Ollie Gascoigne is of note for banking and finance and public law litigation. David Broadmore and senior associate Luke Sizer are the key contacts in Auckland.

Practice head(s):

Scott Barker


‘Very personable professional and capable team. We enjoyed working with the entire Buddle Findlay team on a complex demanding assignment.’

‘Sebastian Bisley and Oliver Gascoigne were a pleasure to work with. They achieved exceptional results for the Department. Sebs’ ability to navigate through complex situations and clearly articulate the process was very much appreciated. The whole team’s dedication and hard work is a credit to Buddle Findlay. ‘

Key clients

Southern Response Earthquake Services

Bank of New Zealand

Zespri Group

New Zealand Steel

Department of Corrections

ANZ Bank

Eleonora Sport

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China


Sky Television

Work highlights

  • Represented the Department of Corrections in a dispute worth in excess of $100m regarding its nationally significant modular prison build contract with Decmil Construction NZ Limited (Decmil). The Department of Corrections is pursuing Decmil’s Australian parent company under a parent company guarantee. The disputes are high value and involve complex contractual and construction law issues.
  • Acting for Zespri in a $15m claim against formerly licensed growers, claiming breach of contract and the Plant Variety Rights Act (PVR Act) following alleged unauthorised supply and licensing of kiwifruit in China. Most recently, we appeared in the Court of Appeal in response to an appeal of the High Court decision in favour of Zespri.
  • Acting for New Zealand Steel in defence of a claim seeking an injunction requiring New Zealand Steel (and other large New Zealand emitters of greenhouse gases) to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan‘s Wellington litigation team is headed by Hayden Wilson , and is nationally recognised for its public and administrative law litigation capabilities, acting for several core Government agencies. Media disputes, defamation cases and ADR are also key areas of instruction. Public law expert Linda Clark  is a key figure and David Campbell leads the Auckland team, which includes James McMillan , a specialist in contentious insolvency work. Senior associate Patrick Glennie, who is qualified in Scots law advises on commercial and trusts matters. The team focuses on infrastructure, corporate, and commercial disputes.

Practice head(s):

David Campbell; Hayden Wilson

Key clients


Medical Council of New Zealand

Engineering New Zealand



Work highlights

  • Advised the administrators, and then liquidators, of three STA Travel entities in relation to all matters arising from the collapse of the global business. This instruction is ongoing and has so far involved two court applications, with another in prospect in order to determine complex issue as to the status of funds received.
  • Acted for a Professional Conduct Committee of the Medical Council prosecuting Dr E in the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for professional misconduct. Dr E was charged in relation to his prescribing of abortion medication to two pregnant patients in breach of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 and in breach of professional standards for general practitioners.
  • Acted for Engineering New Zealand in proceedings for judicial review of a decision to dismiss complaints made by the Government’s Chief Engineer (and others) against Dr Alan Reay. Dr Reay is the director of the engineering firm that designed the CCTV building that collapsed during the Canterbury sequence of earthquakes.

DLA Piper New Zealand

Offering ‘a good range and depth of experienceDLA Piper New Zealand’s dispute resolution group is led by Iain Thain , ‘a very experienced litigator with excellent courtroom skills and a practical approach‘. With more than 30 years’ experience in the litigation field, he has developed a specialisation in competition and regulatory matters, insolvency and property law related matters, and counts TVNZ, AIG, Foodstuffs and Auckland Council, among his clients. Alicia Murray is ‘a gutsy litigator with an insolvency specialisation but broad expertise‘ in competition law and regulatory investigations. Emma Moran is the Wellington offices’ main litigation figure.

Practice head(s):

Iain Thain

Other key lawyers:

Alicia Murray; Emma Moran


‘Commitment to going the extra mile. Thinking and providing options/solutions that are outside of the box. Deal well with complex issues with political aspects.’

‘Good range and depth of experience. Reliable and good to work with.’

‘Iain Thain is a very experienced litigator with excellent courtroom skills and a practical approach.’

‘Alicia Murray is a gutsy litigator with an insolvency specialisation but broad expertise. They are both a pleasure to work with.’

‘Alicia Murray delivers high quality advice in a clear and articulate manner. Alicia is not afraid of robust discussions, and has help us achieved some amazing outcomes.’

‘They are engaging and genuinely looking to assist. If an issue arises over costs they will discuss and compromise in the interest of the long term relationship and business.’

Key clients

Harmoney Limited



LCM Operations Limited

Nottingham Forest

FM Custodians/Trustees Executors




Work highlights

  • Acting for Harmoney, defending complex High Court proceedings brought by the New Zealand Commerce Commission. The Commission alleges that fees charged by the peer-to-peer lending provider were in fact credit fees and therefore regulated. The Commission says the fees were unreasonable, in breach of the regulations.
  • Acted for FM Custodians in relation to an appeal against instrument forfeiture orders made in respect of properties over which FM Custodians had secured mortgages. The appeal raised new and novel issues — the question of the requirement for an instrumental connection between the offending and property that can be subject to instrument forfeiture orders has never been considered by the appellant courts in New Zealand.
  • Instructed by Apple Inc in relation to pre-commencement discovery proceedings filed against Apple by Travel Xplorer. Travel Xplorer allege that Apple Pay infringes its patent relating to electronic payment systems.

Gilbert Walker

Distinguished as ‘one of the best boutique litigation firms in the countryGilbert Walker is led by three partners; Matthew Harris, Iva Rosic and Martin Smith, who have an extensive combined commercial and regulatory background, coupled with a significant public interest practice. Harris successfully appeared for the former directors of Feltex Carpets in the liability and loss phase of the case, as part of a $200m class action brought on behalf of more than 3,600 shareholder claimants arising from the Feltex IPO in 2004. Rosic ‘is incredibly smart, professional and widely recognised as one of, if not the, best younger litigation partners in NZ‘; she specialised in large scale commercial disputes and insurance claims. ‘Efficient, strategic and commercial‘ Smith and senior associate Hamish McQueen are also noted.

Other key lawyers:

Hamish McQueen


‘Gilbert Walker is in my view New Zealand’s premier litigation firm. The firm staffs each matter with a small team led by one of its three highly capable partners. There is high degree of partner engagement with the matter. The firm has particular strengths in contractual disputes, banking and insurance.’

‘Gilbert Walker has am amazing combination of partners and other lawyers. The three partners bring quite different but complementary strengths – and unlike big firms expect their non-partners to play a significant role in terms of speaking up in meetings, mediations and in Court.’

‘One of the best boutique litigation firms in the country.’

‘Martin Smith is excellent: efficient, strategic, commercial, and very easy to deal with.’

‘Iva Rosic is widely recognised as one of, if not the, best younger litigation partner(s) in NZ. Clients and her juniors love her equally. She is incredibly smart, professional, tough yet charming.’

‘I have worked closely with the three partners, Matthew Harris, Martin Smith and Iva Rosic. They are all highly capable. Matthew Harris is the most experienced courtroom advocate of the three and I regard him as the best commercial litigator practising in any firm in New Zealand.’

‘Iva Rosic and Hamish McQueen make a great team and provide great strategic insights.’

Key clients

The former Directors of Feltex Carpets

ANZ Bank



Skycity Entertainment Group

Vector Ltd

The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated

Work highlights

  • 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 Volcanic Air Safari Ltd, a helicopter tour operator, in defending criminal charges laid by New Zealand’s health and safety regulator, WorkSafe, following a volcanic eruption that killed 22 people and injured others.
  • Acted for The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand in a successful appeal to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in relation to the interpretation of the legislative provisions governing a proposal to establish an opencast coal mine on West Coast reserve land.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh is a full-service litigation practice that demonstrates strong capability in class actions, insolvency proceedings, construction disputes and ADR mandates. Group chair Marika Eastwick-Field is a top advocate for M&A disputes, banking and financial services, capital markets, property and insurance. Commercial litigators Malcolm Crotty, Kirsten Massey; insolvency partner Matthew Kersey and class action specialist Polly Pope, are the other central figures in Auckland. The Wellington litigation team comprises Chris Curran, whose work spans complex commercial disputes, public law, judicial reviews and IT projects, and Emmeline Rushbrook, who acts for financial markets participants in regulatory enforcement action involving the Financial Markets Authority, Commerce Commission and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Marika Eastwick-Field


Russell McVeagh does an exemplary job in assimilating our overall strategy to the unique contours of the New Zealand venue and providing the invaluable “local” advice and recommendations. Russell McVeagh has the contacts/resources to satisfy the client’s needs with respect to any public or government affairs aspects of our matters.’

‘Good experience on litigious matters for competition law issues, have a partner who is ex-UK so brings international experience to the matter’

‘The team of litigators I worked with were great. They are a diverse group of people male, female and young Maori. They have a great rapport and you can tell that they are very supportive of each other which translated into very effective legal support. The team were very engaged, always returned calls straight away and were very efficient. I couldn’t fault their team work which was excellent.’

‘The Russell McVeagh team, led by Tim Clarke and Chris Curran, are first-class in their responsiveness to the client’s needs and their substantive advice and work product on the New Zealand aspect of our set of international controversies. They are excellent teachers in our ongoing comparative law course. They are also proactive in suggesting strategy for the matter.’

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

  • Acted for two Credit Suisse (CS) entities, which were the issuer and promoter in the initial public offering of shares in Feltex Limited in 2004, in a landmark proceeding. The Credit Suisse entities have now successfully resisted claims for over NZ$200 million brought as a class action on behalf of approximately 3,600 shareholders
  • The team, with the support of the global litigation funder Omni Bridgeway, have commenced a class action 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 (“PE”). The proceedings have been filed in the High Court in Auckland.
  • Advised Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd in bringing a successful injunction proceedings in the Auckland High Court against Quin Environmentals (NZ) Limited in relation to claims and the use of marks and labels in New Zealand. It set precedent in relation to novel issues relating to passing off and helped determine whether New Zealand’s fertiliser industry needs Government intervention by way of statute.

Wilson Harle

As a boutique dispute resolution practice, Wilson Harle really know their craft and their key clients well.’ Clients praise the practice for its ‘unique blend of services and skills’ and capability to handle challenging commercial, regulatory, and public law disputes, alongside its growing trust, defamation and media litigation practice. Chris Browne has over 30 years’ commercial litigation and public law experience at all court levels. Allison Ferguson is similarly highly respected in the market for her ‘excellent instincts and judgment’ in complex commercial disputes. Ian Denton has developed specialisms in tort, insurance and competition disputes. The ‘excellentFelicity Monteiro is recommended for commercial and shipping disputes.


‘Wilson Harle is a specialist litigation firm offering a unique blend of services and skills’

‘As a boutique dispute resolution practice, Wilson Harle really know their craft and their key clients well.’

‘Wilson Harle are a leading litigation firm who are in the same rank or better as the litigation departments in the top-5 major National law firms. Their experience and expertise covers the full range of litigation. I often recommend them to colleagues or clients who need litigation lawyers.’

‘Allison Ferguson is a stand out performer. She is responsive, smart and efficient, and has an excellent sense of the right path to success. She is fantastic with clients and simply one of the best litigation solicitors.’

‘Allison Ferguson is our go-to partner. She has excellent instincts and judgment and a demonstrated ability to grasp, process and apply deeply technical information. No other lawyer of any specialty understands our systems and technology as well as she does.’

‘Felicity Monteiro is an excellent lawyer, very responsible and quickly reacted.’

‘Allison Fergusson – a top solicitor. Ian Denton coming up to the top.’

Key clients

New Zealand Retail Property Group Limited

Napier City Council

Vodafone New Zealand Limited

Sequitur Hotels Pty Limited

Public Trust

Gambling Commission

Work highlights

  • 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.
  • Acting for a private client, a German national and Canadian resident, in a tort claim alleging he and four other defendants were involved in a conspiracy to injure the plaintiff.
  • Acting for Vodafone New Zealand Limited in relation to a prosecution by the New Zealand Commerce Commission relating to the advertising of certain broadband products.

Fee Langstone

Fee Langstone is well known for its insurance litigation capabilities.  Though primarily known for its insurance work, the practice is also increasing its breadth of services to include commercial litigation, class actions and in maritime and aviation law-related cases, which are handled by Pauline Davies. Phillipa Fee routinely represents global accounting firms, real estate agents, barristers, architects and insurance brokers in insurance disputes, as well as damages claims which are covered under public and products liability policies. Craig Langstone continues to be in demand for disputes involving professional indemnity, public liability, D&O, property and cyber insurance. All individuals are based in Auckland.

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


Frank’s International

Kelly Flavell Law

KPMG Ireland

KPMG New Zealand

Lloyds of London (various syndicates)

NCI Commercial Collections

NTI Limited


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.
  • Acting for Protect Mataharehare in its legal opposition to the NZ Government’s (Ministry of Culture and Heritage) plan to construct a large National Erebus Memorial in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, Parnell, Auckland, on an ancient Maori pā site – the Mataharehare pā, without proper and meaningful consultation with mana whenua.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry demonstrates ‘vast experience’ in disputes involving its key sectors of speciality; construction, insurance, trade and transport, employment and trusts. Alison Maelzer chairs the practice, which includes Christina Bryant and Nick Gillies , advising on contentious property and construction cases. Helen Macfarlane and newly promoted partner, Glen Holm-Hansen also undertake an increasing amount of insurance and insolvency-related work, in addition to their main specialty, construction.     

Practice head(s):

Nick Gillies;  Alison Maelzer


‘Deep and broad knowledge of dispute resolution options. Provision of pragmatic and commercially sensible legal advice.’

‘Depth of experience in construction disputes.’

‘Nick Gillies – knows the law, knows the market and knows how to address and resolve disputes.

‘Go the extra mile to ensure the service we get is in line with our requirements. Vast experience (domestically and internationally).’

Key clients

Vero Insurance New Zealand Ltd (part of the Suncorp Group (Vero)

Juken New Zealand Limited

AECOM New Zealand Ltd

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

  • Assisted Savvy Vineyard in the enforcement of large-volume grape supply agreements, including two successful appeals to the Supreme Court settling NZ law on assignment and novation and addressing novel issues regarding rights to damages when a lower court judgment is reversed on appeal.
  • Successfully defended Infinity Enterprises in a claim to an unregistered right of way over a commercial property development. The claim raised complex issues concerning the survival of equitable rights to land in a Torrens system, and the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judgments in our client’s favour are now leading authorities in this area.
  • Acted for TPT Shipping prior to it being placed into administration in response to demand letters being issued against it arising out of alleged misdelivery claims of log cargo from New Zealand to India totalling over $15m (USD) and multiple injunctions being sought against it contemporaneously.

K3 Legal


Practice head(s):

James Nolen

Other key lawyers:

Edwin Morrison; Toni Brown

Lane Neave

Ben Russell is the main dispute resolution partner at Lane Neave in Christchurch. Clients praise him for providing ‘well-informed, legally sound and commercially pragmatic‘ counsel in commercial litigation, as well as in commercial issues involving contract, real property, trusts, insurance, insolvency and shareholder disputes. Rebecca Scott and Simon Clay are the other central figures on the team. 

Practice head(s):

Ben Russell

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Scott; Mike King; Sam Crosbie


‘The Lane Neave Dispute Resolution team’s point of difference over other DR practices is its strategic approach to resolving disputes. They work with their clients at the outset to identify the preferred outcome and then advise on the strategy and tactics to best achieve that objective. They always put their clients in a position to make informed judgments about their options e.g. whether to litigate, negotiate, mediate or a combination of all three. They are one of the best value-for-money DR teams I have worked with.’

‘Ben Russell is a highly competent, diligent and effective lawyer, yet very approachable and easy to work with. His advice is always well-informed, legally sound and commercially pragmatic. He knows when his client has a strong case, and when they do not, when to go to trial and when to settle, and tells his clients what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.’

‘Simon Clay is enormously experienced, savvy, calm and unflappable. He is a highly skilled advocate, completely at home in a court room and equally so in a mediation or negotiation setting.’

‘Ben Russell – Very safe pair of hands. Good judgement and common sense. Hardworking and efficient. A real pleasure to work with.’

Key clients

Orion New Zealand Ltd

Wellington International Airport Limited


Ernst Young

Argos Froyanes Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Orion New Zealand Limited in defending a multi-million dollar claim for damages arising from a series of large fires near Christchurch. The matter settled during the High Court hearing.
  • Represented the plaintiff, Fox Mortimer Trustee Company Ltd, the purchaser of a subdivided lot of rural land worth $5.6m in a claim against the vendor for (i) breach of restrictive covenant, (ii) breach of contract and a permanent injunction, (iii) misleading and deceptive conduct in trade.
  • Instructed by Argos Froyanes Limited, a fisheries operator, to seek an urgent judicial review of Immigration New Zealand’s decision to decline various visas for contractors required to crew two vessels due to leave to Antarctica for the toothfish season.

Lindsay & Francis

Lindsay & Francis is an Auckland boutique commercial litigation practice founded by Timothy Lindsay and Kim Francis, and primarily acts in corporate/ securities, regulatory litigation and international arbitration. The team has been joined by Thomas Westaway, a senior associate from London firm Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, further bolstering its international expertise. The team handles director and shareholder disputes, worldwide freezing injunctions, international investment treaty disputes, public law and high value international arbitration disputes. Lindsay is a highly experienced trial lawyer, and continues to be sought after on M&A and post-acquisition disputes, banking and securities litigation, and regulatory defences. Francis is an expert in insolvency-related claims and cases against directors and auditors.

Practice head(s):

Timothy Lindsay

Other key lawyers:

Kim Francis ; Thomas Westaway


‘The firm is unique as it is a specialist commercial litigation practice which we found to be rare in New Zealand. The firm is extremely responsive and client focused. We were also impressed that the firm was prepared to take on a difficult case and fight hard for the client. ‘

‘This is a small specialised practice with a strong commercial litigation focus and highly skilled people.’

‘L&F is everything you want in a litigation boutique: capable, commercial, nimble and with the depth of talent to staff any matter. Quality staff from top to bottom.’

‘Tim Lindsay has good commercial and legal judgment with good communication skills. He gets to the point and inspires confidence.’

‘Tim Lindsay and Kim Francis are the stand outs at the firm as the named partners. They are efficient, easy to work with, intelligent and with good strategic sense.’

Key clients

Bunnings Limited

Green & McCahill Holdings Limited (GMHL)

Chair and former directors of CBL

Corporation Limited

Creditors of Tamarind Taranaki Limited

Fuji Xerox NZ

PBL Solutions Limited

RESIL Investments

Work highlights

  • Defending Bunnings against a 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.
  • Continuing to act for Fuji Xerox NZ in claims against its auditors and three former senior executives concerning significant accounting irregularities amounting to over $350 million.
  • Retained to act for RESIL Investments in the first ever shareholder objection to a company takeover by way of scheme of arrangement, in relation to the $1.2 billion takeover of listed retirement home operator Metlifecare Limited by Swedish private equity fund EQT.

Tompkins Wake

Tompkins Wake has roots in the North Island, particularly the Hamilton area, and regularly appears as defence counsel for multinational clients in their contentious issues in its key areas of expertise; dairy industry regulations, agri-business, insurance, property, aviation, telecoms and IP. James MacGillivray leads the team, and is supported by Kate Cornege , Stephanie Ambler  and Zandra Wackenier whose focus is family law. Mark Hammond heads the contentious employment and health and safety practice, while in Rotorua, Fraser Wood has developed a specialisation acting on regulatory prosecutions including under the Resource Management Act.

Practice head(s):

James MacGillivray


‘James MacGillivray and Kate Cornege are first class litigation solicitors in every aspect from dealing with clients in a litigation setting, analysis, process and preparing and presenting argument.’

Key clients

Hamilton City Council

IBC Japan Limited

Hamilton City Council

South Waikato District Council

University of Waikato

McGrathNicol as administrators / liquidators of Wirecard NZ

Protea Group Management Services L.L.C. t/a International Aviation Support

Work highlights

  • Acted for Hamilton City Council in a judicial review of the Council’s development contributions policy by 19 developer applicants.
  • Acted for Protea Group Management Services L.L.C. t/a International Aviation Support in the collapse of New Zealand’s iconic aircraft manufacturing company called Pacific Aerospace Limited.
  • Acted for the University of Waikato in judicial review proceedings brought by a student alleging that the University failed to act in accordance with its own policies.

Wynn Williams

Wynn Williams is know for its focus on dispute resolution in the insurance sector. Richard Hern is experienced in working with local and international insurers across a range of claims concerning health and life insurance, professional liability, statutory liability, complex property, business interruption and material damage claims, and defamation. He is also regularly engaged to provide indemnity advice, and on matters relating fraud and arson in relation to general liability claims. Emily Walton 's expertise includes acting in relation to earthquake insurance and has handled a huge number of commercial and domestic claims. Joshua Shaw   heads the overall litigation practice.

Practice head(s):

Joshua Shaw

Other key lawyers:

Richard Hern; Emily Walton


They have quite a unique team at WW. I use the right person for the right job depending on skills and how they would match up for the insured.’ 

‘I like using Emily Walton in Christchurch. She is practical and flexible. She is willing to discuss and debate a situation and work out with you the best way to proceed.’  

Key clients

Insurer, and leading nationally renowned barrister

Insurer and consultant

Insurer and real estate firm

AIG and its insured Cleaver Richards Ltd

Waste Management NZ Ltd (and its insurer, a leading liability insurer)

Chubb Insurance

Multi-national liability insurer and its insured, a prominent Christchurch architect

A District Council

A swimming pool operator and its insured, a leading liability insurer

A solicitor and his insurer (a leading liability insurer)

Work highlights

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