Insurance in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully is a full-service law firm where the workflow for the insurance practice continues to grow year-on-year, both in terms of transactional advice, insurance claims and litigation. The firm is regarded as a leading adviser on large corporate transactions for insurers, but it also has specialist expertise in insurance litigation. This has resulted in its leading role in important test cases in the insurance sector, including the on-going representation of Fletcher Construction Company Limited in a case arising from a fire at the New Zealand International Conference Centre in late 2019. The firm also has a leading advocacy role in relation to two significant areas of law reform for the sector, the Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill and the Insurance Contracts Bill. David Friar and Simon Ladd lead the six-partner practice from Auckland.

Practice head(s):

David Friar; Simon Ladd

Key clients

AIA New Zealand Limited

AMP Life Limited and Resolution Life Group Holdings Limited

Aon plc

Cigna Corporation

IAG New Zealand Limited

Insurance Council of New Zealand

Medical Assurance Society NZ Limited

Southern Cross Medical Care Society

Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Tower Limited

Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for The Fletcher Construction Company Limited (FCC) in relation to a fire that began at the New Zealand International Conference Centre (NZICC) on 22 October 2019. This was one of the largest insurance events in New Zealand last year, and has attracted significant media attention.
  • Acting for Southern Response in the Dodds litigation, an important test case that was heard in the High Court last year and is now under appeal in the Court of Appeal. The case addresses a number of novel and cutting-edge insurance law principles, and is likely to affect thousands of similarly situated policyholders with many hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.
  • Acted for Southern Response in the H&H case, a test case concerning the meaning of ‘as new’ under the AMI policy in the recently established Canterbury Earthquake Insurance Tribunal. The case was one of the first five matters heard before the Tribunal.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand is widely recognised as a market-leading insurance firm, with clients remarking that the practice has 'significant knowledge of the insurance industry, so you get consistently good advice'. Working for leading names in the market, among them general counsels of insurers and brokers, the firm provides the full range of matters, including W&I insurance, regulatory advice, policy drafting and privacy issues. Caroline Laband leads the 15-lawyer Auckland practice, while Peter Leman is the lead partner in Wellington. Up-and-coming partner Misha Henaghan in Auckland and senior associate Shane Swinerd in Wellington are also recommended. Brad Cuff left to become a barrister but the firm hired special counsel Jason Mackie who was previously litigation manager at IAG New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Laband; Peter Leman


‘DLA Piper has a strong Insurance practice. It has a wide range of people with different capabilities that can assist in a variety of claims. They have significant knowledge of the insurance industry so you get consistently good advice.’

‘Misha Henaghan is a standout lawyer. As a client, when I instruct Misha, I don’t have to worry about the case anymore. She provides accurate and practical advice that is easy to follow. She drives the case along without delays. She provides outstanding service. She makes it easy to do business with.’

‘Peter Leman at DLA Piper has extensive knowledge of insurance law. He is a great asset when it comes to general liability claims, statutory prosecutions and fire and general insurance.’

‘I consider the firm to have expertise in insurance law, and I can rely on them to exercise commercial judgement. They are always timely with updates and reporting. They are reliable and efficient, and provide comprehensive advice. I can trust them to deliver in accordance with instructions.’

‘The DLA Piper team in the Wellington office is representing us on our largest and most complex commercial earthquake claims following the Kaikoura 2016 event. Each of these claims has required a raft of experts from different disciplines. DLA not only keeps all of the experts on task, but is also very impressive with the effort they put into understanding some of the very technical information being supplied by the experts, then linking that to policy response and legislative requirements. The technical aptitude in the Wellington office is exceptional.’

‘I prefer the working relationship that I have with DLA Piper to some of the other firms that we use because they keep us informed as information is received. It becomes a process that we are much more involved in, compared to some other firms where we then receive a strategic report presenting all of the information to us. I think DLA has the best appreciation of the fact that we have other factors that we need to consider when we make claim decisions, and that it doesn’t only hinge on technical legality.’

‘Peter Leman and Shane Swinerd are the partner and senior associate with whom I work with the most often. Peter has oversight of all of the claims that DLA is representing us on that I am currently handling. He is always available, even taking my calls when he was on holiday. Both Peter and Shane are exceptional at knowing the details of any given claim whenever I call, including all of the technical ones being passed on by experts.’

‘Peter Leman and Shane Swinerd are both excellent at creating a collaborative working relationship, with regular discussions and catch ups on all matters they are working on for us. I dont have to chase them for updates. I also value their honesty. If they think that we have a problem then they tell us, even if that problem may not necessarily be a legal one. I think they both excel at providing us with realistic risk analyses as we need them.’

‘DLA Piper NZ’s insurance lawyers are technically very strong, whilst being commercially focused, efficient and good to work with. The team offers a breadth of experience and expertise in relation to insurance matters.’

‘Caroline Laband is unflappable. She consistently provides high quality and commercial advice, often at short notice.’

‘Peter Leman is dependable and works collaboratively to achieve the best outcomes for us.’

‘Misha Henaghan’s advice is always well considered and comprehensive. She is also incredibly efficient.’

‘They are knowledgeable in their field and are always accessible. They listen to other opinions and are not arrogant to think they have the only answers. They are consultative.’

‘Peter Leman is particularly responsive and consultative.’

Key clients

IAG New Zealand Limited

AIG New Zealand Limited

Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited

DUAL New Zealand Limited

Aon New Zealand

Zurich New Zealand

Allianz Australia Insurance Limited

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company Limited

Marsh New Zealand

Crombie Lockwood (New Zealand) Limited (part of AJ Gallagher Group)

Cunningham Lindsey New Zealand Limited


Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited

Lloyd’s of London: Various syndicates not individually named

AIA International Limited /AIA New Zealand Limited (acquired Sovereign Assurance Company Limited)

Steadfast Group

Tower Insurance Limited

International Underwriting Agencies Limited

Insurance Council of New Zealand

Holmes Consulting Group

Rothbury Group

Nautilus Marine Underwriting Agency Pty

Tokio Marine HCC

CNA Hardy

Work highlights

  • Acted for IAG in Court of Appeal proceedings to determine issues of aggregation of losses under a material damage insurance claim for earthquake damage.
  • Acting for IAG and 81 homeowners in a High Court proceeding to recover losses sustained in the Port Hills of Christchurch fire in 2017.
  • Acting for global engineering firm and its insurer, DUAL, to defend a litigated building claim relating to a 40-storey residential and commercial tower block in the Auckland CBD. The total claim is NZ$180m and is allegedly the largest residential building claim in New Zealand.

Duncan Cotterill

'Outcomes and value set this firm apart', says a client of Duncan Cotterill, which joins the ranking this year. The firm has a very large team, with 14 partners assisting an impressive roster of domestic and international insurers. Insurance law is the firm's prime focus, though the practice works alongside specialists in areas such as resource management, employment and health and safety issues. Its work includes material damage claims, insurance fraud, professional indemnity, cyber liability, and directors and officers insurance. The practice has a 'real focus on best resolution and the firepower to see things through by way of expert surgical litigation'. Among the key partners in the 'personable, efficient and reliable' team are Jonathan Scragg and Aaron Sherriff in Wellington and, in Auckland Duncan McGill, Paul Smith and Rob Coltman. Clients also recommend Ayleath Foote in Christchurch.


‘The firm has a strong specialist litigation team, including partner Jonathan Scragg and senior associate Edward Greig. It has a good national footprint. Outcomes and value set this firm apart.’

‘The team is personable, efficient and reliable.’

‘The firm has a broad range of insurance and other expertise, with a good geographical spread. Rob Coltman has excellent insurance law breadth and depth, and is both responsive and agile.’

‘The team is friendly, direct and knowledgable. The communication on files that they are assisting with is great. I feel comfortable putting a wide variety of work within the Insurance field to Duncan Cotterill in the knowledge that it is in safe hands.’

‘I use this firm due to its expertise in insurance law. They are always timely with updates and reporting. They are reliable and efficient, and provide comprehensive advice. I can trust them to deliver in accordance with instructions. I can rely on them to exercise commercial judgement.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has the advantage of having offices in all major cities in New Zealand, and it can provide an insurance expertise for most areas of professional business, from health to construction.’

‘In Auckland, Duncan McGill has a sound knowledge of our policies and practices. In Wellington both Jonathan Scragg and Aaron Sheriff work well with our other panel members.’

‘I have worked with Duncan Cotterill’s insurance team, which has many years of practical experience. I have found them to be dependable, reliable, and responsive.’

‘The show attentiveness to detail and are results-focused. The partners I have dealt with have performed well in Court in the past.’

‘What sets the team apart is the real focus as to best resolution while still having the firepower to see things through by way of expert surgical litigation, if matters cannot be sensibly resolved or protagonists get out of hand. I have been very impressed as to how they as a team operate not only working on matters with them but when being opposing counsel .The quality of their work and especially attention to detail is very reassuring. I very much recommend their services to clients and when conflict situations arises.’

‘There is a real ease of engagement as to getting the job done with excellence but without any ego or fuss. There is a genuine team spirit and have been most impressed with the interactions between the partners and associates as to ensuring the consistent high level of service. Obviously, Jonathan Scragg is a standout leader and partner – his reputation speaks for itself, but what is more impressive is that the team makes sure it has all the expertise on board and brings in the right skill set at the right level for the job including other partners outside the team, if need be to solve such wider issues if arising.’

‘The Duncan Cotterill insurance team comprises talented lawyers who understand the technicalities of insurance law but are also focused on achieving practical solutions for their clients.’

‘Rob Coltman is intelligent and practical, with good interpersonal skills so he can read the complexities of a dispute and adjust his strategy to suit.’

‘Paul Smith is calm, measured, smart.’

‘Senior associate Simon Connolly is personable and clever, practical, excellent to work with.’

‘Chris Shannon is sensible, friendly and excellent to work with.’

‘Duncan Coterrill lawyers have all the necessary skill and ability that others have, however they approach working with our organisation in a collaborative way. They are sensitive to the needs of our clients. They are very people-friendly – which is important to us and our clients. They are pragmatic and sensible so you get value for money and excellent resolutions in a timely way.’

‘Jonathan Scragg is excellent – he is involved at a senior level in the insurance industry and so he understands the local and international drivers. He works incredibly hard and is highly sought after, with great skill in providing indemnity advice. Has a good strategic head and commercial know-how.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has as strong insurance practice covering a range of areas, including professional indemnity, medical malpractice, employments disputes liability, statutory liability and general liability.’

‘Aaron Sheriff is great to deal with. He gets to grips with the details on large and complex claims and writes thorough reports of the kind we need for our reinsurers. He is good at keeping us updated on progress and will often discuss maters before reporting in writing.’

‘Duncan McGill is very experienced in both professional indemnity and medical malpractice claims and handles a large number of such claims for us.’

‘The team at Duncan Cotterill is fantastic. They are professional yet personable and have collectively achieved excellent results for our clients.’

‘The firm has a strong presence in, and understanding of, the insurance world. Alyeath Foote, Duncan McGill and Jonathan Scragg are all relatable, commercial and skilled operators, with a strong understanding of insurance dispute issues and their drivers.’

‘I have been instructed by Ayleath Foote of the firms’s Christchurch litigation practice. Ayleath is a very competent and conscientious partner.’

‘Ayleath Foote: has wide experience and considerable wisdom.’

‘The partners I deal with are very professional and capable, and provide backup by engaging equally professional employees or associates. This probably does not make the firm unique so much as reinforce its commitment to ensuring the quality of service top legal firms are presumed to offer.’

‘My recent dealings have been with Aaron Sherriff who brings real enthusiasm to his work and an enquiring mind which wants to understand – and does understand – even obscure technical issues that arise. Jonathan Scragg is another who springs to mind in this context as does Duncan McGill.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has a friendly and approachable team. The strengths that Duncan Cotterill’s team holds are the great communication skills that their staff hold in their ability to concisely and on a timely basis keep us up to date on matters. Their team have great people skills. We often refer matters to Duncan Cotterill which are of a sensitive nature and our clients feel supported and heard by the lawyers who assist them. Certain members of the team have great creativity in which they propose strategies on how to handle matters and have ‘outside the box’ moments which work out really well. Whilst you deal with someone out of one office, you know they have the support and knowledge of others in the team at other locations. The atmosphere is not one of competition but working together.’

‘Duncan McGill has an exceptional amount of knowledge in the areas he works in. He takes the time to walk through difficult circumstances with you and the best approach to take to resolve them. Because of his knowledge you have confidence in the work that he completes and that he will get the best resolution for the client.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has a number of talented lawyers and the firm is approachable, reliable, efficient, pleasant to deal with, knowledgeable and across the latest developments in cases and legislation changes. The firm is very experienced in the insurance space and highly regarded in the market. The firm has also presented to our claims team and underwriters on a number of occasions regarding developments in the employment and health and safety space. I enjoy working with Duncan Cotterill and appreciate their succinct advice and approachability and pragmatic and commercial resolution strategies.’

‘I have worked with Duncan McGill on a number of professional indemnity and health & safety prosecution matters. Duncan is very knowledgeable, approachable and offers commercial and pragmatic solutions in a concise and relevant way.’

‘I have worked recently with Chris Shannon on a health & safety prosecution matter and Chris achieved an excellent outcome for us. He was pleasant to work with, very knowledgeable in this area, gave practical advice and is an excellent communicator.’

‘I have worked with Jonathan Scragg on a number of professional indemnity matters and Jonathan is very knowledgeable, always willing to assist, an excellent communicator and offers sound resolution strategies that we have appreciated.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has partners who are very experienced in insurance litigation. Their support staff are very capable as well. They cater for NZ widely in terms of geography, providing a nationwide service that we require.’

‘We find that working with Duncan McGill and Jonathan Scragg is a great pleasure, as they deliver top-notch service to us and our clients.’

‘Duncan Cotterill runs a very efficient insurance practice – partners are hands-on and practical, recognising the vast majority of insurance problems call out for sensible and efficient resolution in equal measure.’

‘I highlight insurance partners Jonathan Scragg, Duncan McGill and Ayleath Foote – all seasoned litigators, know what to fight and what to settle, all taking a no-nonsense approach which seems to be a hallmark. In particular, Jonathan brings a wise head to the table and runs a very talented team, including associate Edward Greig.’

‘A large team with a broad range of skills and experience within the insurance litigation market, with a diverse range of insurer clients. It provides good judgment and supervision from the top down. Jonathan Scragg a leader within the team.’

Key clients






State Insurance



Crombie Lockwood



Vero liability

Partners Life


NZI Liability

Berkshire Hathaway

FMG Insurance

Medical Assurance Society

Insurance Council of New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Advising leading New Zealand insurer IAG New Zealand Limited on the first of decision of its kind in New Zealand on the extent of liability and the measure of damages claimable by credit hire companies.

Fee Langstone

Fee Langstone in Auckland is a 'very well respected specialist insurance law firm', according to clients, who also note that its lawyers have 'outstanding knowledge of insurance policy response capabilities and litigation issues, and they easily and effortlessly deal with some large and complex issues in an accurate and timely manner'. With a stellar client list of domestic, regional and international insurers, the firm is a recognised leader in both policy advice and litigation. Philippa Fee, who 'knows all there is to know about insurance law', and Craig Langstone are the lead partners. Pauline Davies is lauded as 'the best marine insurance lawyer in the country'. Cecily Brick, who has 'almost unrivalled technical knowledge' is an experienced advocate who frequently appears in the High Court. Virginia Wethey is recommended for contentious matters with an emphasis on liability claims.

Practice head(s):

Philippa Fee; Craig Langstone


‘A very well respected specialist insurance law firm.’

‘Craig Langstone is well respected in the industry, trusted by insurers, responsive and easy to contact. Pauline Davies is the best marine insurance lawyer in the country.’

‘Fee Langstone are the largest insurance litigation firm I work with. They have an outstanding knowledge of insurance policy response capabilities and litigation issues, they easily and effortlessly deal with some large and complex issues in an accurate and timely manner. Fee Langstone have the resources to deal with any file no matter how large it is.’

‘The partners are all highly skilled, knowledgeable, energetic and capable individuals. The associates are skilled and focussed individuals. Partners I regularly work with are Craig Langstone, Philippa Fee, Russell Stewart and Matthew Atkinson.’

‘Fee Langstone’s depth of experience and ability in insurance in the New Zealand market is unrivalled. Insurers can be confident that whatever the issue, someone in Fee Langstone’s team will be to deal with it expertly and effectively.’

‘Cecily Brick is a fabulous insurance lawyer with great depth of understanding, absolutely sound judgment, and excellent strategic thinking. Cecily has almost unrivalled technical knowledge. Cecily manages to balance being strongly intellectual with an ability to connect with people and communicate clearly and simply. Cecily provides QC-level service, at law firm-level cost.’

‘Fee Langstone has an excellent set of partners who each have their own areas of expertise and skills. They understand the need for insurers well and execute each instruction well by utilising their breadth of knowledge and expertise in dispute resolution. They are practical and pragmatic in their approach and I would rank them as the top-performing insurance practice when compared to other firms in the same field.’

‘Philippa Fee, Russell Stewart, Virginia Wethey, Craig Langstone and Matt Atkinson are all standout partners. They are thorough in their work and are happy to go above and beyond to ensure that we do right by our customers. This is a highly talented and skilled group of partners who are a real asset to the industry.’

‘Fee Langstone has a really strong team of insurance specialists. They know the industry and the law very well. If we need specialist advice on tricky indemnity issues, they are our go-to firm.’

‘Philippa Fee has years of experience in this area and knows all there is to know about insurance law. She gives carefully considered advice utilising all of that experience. Virginia Wethey deals with complex matters and provides understandable and practical advice.’

‘Fee Langstone always provides prompt responses. Their time frames for delivery of advice etc are genuine and their advice is reliable.’

‘Their capabilities offer a wide range of knowledge over our many product lines.’

‘Philippa Fee is key to many of our complex claims outcomes. She provides reliable advice and in a timely manner. Philippa is always approachable and her responses are considered and this has won many battles for us on policy wording interpretation.’

‘Philippa Fee takes the time to point out any wording changes if and when necessary whilst dealing with our complex claims situations.’

‘Fee Langstone has a long history in the New Zealand insurance market and have a strong reputation as a leading specialist firm. Philippa Fee has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is an extremely talented lawyer. She offers pragmatic and commercial approaches to the resolution of insurance disputes.’

‘Philippa Fee has a wealth of knowledge and experience and offers pragmatic and commercial approaches to the resolution of insurance disputes. We turn to Philippa on complex coverage issues knowing that Philippa will able to digest and analyse a vast amount of information and provide concise and accurate conclusions.’

‘Matt Atkinson is reliable and approachable and has great knowledge in the PI space and has worked on several architects and engineers PI claims for us. Virginia Wethey is also reliable and provides solid practical and commercial solutions. Angus Wakeman is also pleasant to work with and has an excellent writing style and can grapple with complex legal issues.’

‘The team at Fee Langstone is great to deal with. Phillippa Fee, Craig Langstone, Matthew Atkinson and Viginia Wetney provide a good skill set for us and our clients.’

‘The team is very experienced and customer-friendly.’

‘A specialist in insurance law providing respected opinions.’

Key clients



AIG Australia

AIG Europe (UK) Ltd

Allianz New Zealand

Allianz Australia Ltd

Antares Managing Agency Ltd

Argo International

Berkshire Hathaway

Chubb Insurance NZ

Club Marine Ltd

Crombie Lockwood

Delta Insurance

FMG Insurance

General Reinsurance Corporation


Lloyds of London


Newline Syndicate 1218

NZI & NZI Marine

QBE European Operations

QBE Insurance (Australia )Ltd

QBE Smartpak

Southern Cross Benefits

Steadfast Group

Tokio Marine & Nichido

Vero Insurance (New Zealand) / Suncorp

Zurich New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Acting for QBE in respect of a claim brought by Body Corporate 423090 following earthquake damage sustained to the Body Corp’s building in Christchurch known as Pacific Tower. Litigation is ongoing.
  • Continuing the defence of Vero Insurance against a $7m claim for earthquake damage to a portfolio of commercial and industrial buildings which is the subject of proceedings in the High Court.
  • Advising DNS, who owns a large plantation forest west of Gisborne in Eastland. During a harvest, a significant storm caused civil works infrastructure to collapse releasing a huge volume of sediment and forestry debris into local rivers. The event caused similar events at other forests in the region. The debris caused significant property damage and spoilage of public land and beaches. The local authority filed charges against DNS under the Resource Management Act on the basis that DNS is vicariously liable for the failures of its harvest contractor and harvest manager.

Wotton + Kearney

Wotton + Kearney is a specialist insurance law firm with a 30-lawyer team that clients describe as 'knowledgeable, approachable, trustworthy and willing to assist'. Highly regarded for general liability, financial lines, complex property and MDBI claims, employment liability, cyber matters, product liability and subrogated recoveries, the firm acts for numerous global and London market insurers, as well as local brokers and corporate insureds. Managing partner Antony Holden and head of the medico-legal practice Sean O’Sullivan are the lead partners in Wellington. In Auckland, office head Matthew Francis, head of the EPL practice Rebecca Scott and head of the cyber team Mark Anderson are the main contacts. Up-and-coming partner Richard Flinn and special counsels Andrew Moore and Hugh King are also recommended.


‘The firm has a strong team with a good breadth of knowledge across the various industry sectors we deal with. Having offices in main cities in New Zealand helps their reach in comparison with other firms. The lawyers are approachable and good communicators.’

‘Antony Holden is a very clever and well-regarded lawyer in New Zealand. He has a great team that work with him and their ability to provide concise and well thought out legal advice around both coverage and also recovery claims is second to none. More recently, special counsel Hugh King has also acted on our behalf and proven to be very proactive in his approach to dealing with certain issues which arise which has proven to be very helpful in dealing with potentially difficult situations.’

‘The team is knowledgeable, approachable, willing to assist and have presented seminars to our company on a regular basis. Among its unique aspects are its knowledge and specialty in the cyber space and also its connection with Wotton + Kearney Australia, which helps us to keep up-to-date with developments in the Australian jurisdiction, which often flow to the New Zealand market. The firm is trustworthy – we know we can turn the team for assistance and get an excellent level of service with a fast turnaround time.’

Rebecca Scott is excellent in the employment liability space. Her knowledge and practical, commercial solutions have helped us settle claims with good results recently.’

‘Mark Anderson is excellent in the cyber and statutory liability space. His knowledge, availability and fast turnaround response times is appreciated and valued.’

‘Mathew Francis has assisted recently and his knowledge in the space was excellent and the structure of his opinion and practical solutions for resolution were appreciated.’

‘A rising star of the firm is senior associate Natasha Cannon who has assisted us often in the real estate space and is approachable, offering practical solutions for resolution.’

‘The lawyers are easy to deal with at any level and always willing to assist. Their skill sets and expertise are varied and of high quality.’

‘I mainly instruct Andrew Moore as he is passionate about property claims and undertakes extensive research. He is approachable and his advice can be relied on. Andrew listens to instructions and issue advice accordingly, rather than acting outside of the remit.’

‘The firm is incredibly professional in how it operates and provides very professional reports that are timely and easy to understand for all levels of audience.’

‘Andrew Moore is an incredibly talented and provides opinions that are clear and concise. Antony Holden also provides a well thought out and holistic approach.’

‘A specialist insurance firm that appreciates the needs of its particular clients and works hard to keep its place as a top NZ insurance firm.’

‘Mathew Francis has arguably the best technical legal and insurance knowledge in the market. He works hard to get pragmatic results.’

‘Rebecca Scott is an expert in the niche market of employment dispute litigation for insurance, as well as more general civil litigation. Rebecca is diligent and also works hard to achieve pragmatic cost effective results.’

Key clients

AIG New Zealand


Crombie Lockwood / AJ Gallagher & Co

Chubb Insurance

DUAL New Zealand

MS Amlin (Lloyd’s)

Munich Re

QBE Syndicate 386 (Lloyd’s)

Vero Liability New Zealand

Zurich Australian Insurance

Work highlights

  • The cyber team led by Mark Anderson acted for AIG providing indemnity advice and breach coach advisory services in response to a data breach at Air New Zealand.
  • Acted for AIG to defend a claim involving an alleged over valuation of a property by a prominent Auckland real estate agency.
  • Instructed to defend certain Hamilton real estate agencies (Lodge Real Estate Limited, Jeremy O’Rourke, Monarch Real Estate Limited, and Brian King) and their principals who met in the wake of Trade Me’s changes to its pricing model for listing residential properties on Trade Me’s website.

Gilbert Walker

Specialist advisory and dispute resolution practice Gilbert Walker in Auckland handles a broad remit of litigation work in which complex insurance disputes feature strongly. In such matters it acts for major corporates, banks, professional firms and insurers. Its recent work includes some of the largest contentious insurance cases in New Zealand, though its work also extends to advice on policy coverage for leading liability insurers. Matthew Harris, who assists liability insurers with policy response and the defence of claims against their insureds, Iva Rosic and Martin Smith are the lead partners and all feature prominently in high-value litigation. Associates Alexander Ho and Hamish McQueen are also active in complex insurance cases.

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Ho; Hamish McQueen


‘All three partners at Gilbert Walker are experienced insurance litigators. Matthew Harris stands out for his trial experience in insurance matters.’

Key clients

Vero Liability

Tower Insurance




Work highlights

  • The firm continues to act for Tower Insurance in defending High Court and Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal proceedings brought against it by policy holders arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry in Auckland has a four-partner insurance practice that is 'very capable and has extensive industry knowledge and experience'. The firm has a strong flow of work from its appointments to the panels of major insurers. Amongst its broad palette of work, the firm handles many solicitor negligence claims, for which it has a specialist team. Alan Sherlock, Brett Morley and Helen Macfarlane are the lead partners. Sherlock is a litigation partner with 35 years' experience in marine insurance, fire and general, reinsurance and third party liability. 'Thorough and thoughtful' senior associate Stephanie Corban is also recommended.


‘The firm has a very capable team with extensive industry knowledge and experience.’

‘Senior associate Stephanie Corban is an excellent operator. She is thorough and thoughtful in her approach to thorny issues.’

‘Hesketh Henry has proven to be excellent for contract works matters in first- and third-party claims.’

‘I have dealt with Helen McFarlane, who has proven to be very knowledgeable and effective on complex contract works matters.’

‘Hesketh Henry has a good selection of senior partners and associates who provide good service to us and our clients. Brett Morley and Christina Bryant are our main contacts.’

‘They have a division of specialists in Insurance law.’

Key clients

Suncorp Group New Zealand Limited

Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (including Vero Marine)

AA Insurance Limited

AIG Insurance Limited

Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited

Underwriting Agencies of Australia Pty Limited / Underwriting Agencies of New Zealand Limited

Dual New Zealand Limited

AmTrust International

Charterers P & I Club

Lexis Nexis New Zealand Limited

Work highlights

  • Defended Vero in relation to two multimillion-dollar proceedings involving multi-unit complexes which included several of the firm’s solicitors appearing as counsel at a six-week High Court trial.
  • Advising Vero in relation to a potential recovery action where the losses could exceed $20m.
  • Advises AIG Insurance Limited on claims arising from transactional and litigation matters, limitation issues, disciplinary complaints and breaches of professional obligations.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts has a full-service national insurance practice for contentious and non-contentious advisory work, as well as assisting clients with front-end matters such as policy design and drafting. With a strong client base of domestic insurance brokers and insurers, the firm frequently handles high-value insurance and broker negligence disputes. The practice also advises on all types of reinsurance and post-loss matters including life, health and disability, loss of income, property, professional indemnity, D&O and a wide range of general liability and specialist policies. Andrew Horne in Auckland is the lead partner. Newly promoted partner Nick Frith is also key to the practice, as are financial services and investment partner Jeremy Muir and Wellington-based litigator Stacey Shortall.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Horne

Key clients

Earthquake Commission (EQC)

Marsh Limited

Aon New Zealand

Youi Insurance

AMP Life

Vibe Services Management Limited (Lloyd’s)

AIG Insurance

AIA Insurance

Medical Assurance Society New Zealand

PIC Insurance Brokers

Work highlights

  • Acted for Lloyd’s syndicates in resolving a high-profile, $20m million claim by a seed merchant, PGG Wrightson, resulting from mis-sold seed that affected over 500 farming operations.
  • Newly appointed by the Earthquake Commission to represent it in approximately 60 High Court and Earthquake Tribunal proceedings arising from damage and related repair work from the Canterbury earthquakes.
  • Acted for global insurance broker, Aon, in resolving a $200m claim by the Lyttleton Port Company arising from damage suffered in the Canterbury Earthquakes.


Robertsons in Auckland handles only insurance matters, advising on domestic and cross-border claims. With two highly experienced partners in the 12-lawyer group, the firm has recognised expertise in all aspects of insurance law and claims handling. Known for its partner-led approach, the firm is praised by clients as a 'small, close-knit team with a proven track record that is consistently looking for new ways to add value and innovate'. The practice co-heads are Michael Robertson, who has more than 30 years' experience in liability and general commercial insurance matters, and Helen Twomey, much of whose work focuses on professional indemnity, and directors and officers claims involving the legal and accounting professions and the financial services sector.

Practice head(s):

Michael Robertson; Helen Twomey

Other key lawyers:

Jenifer Thompson


‘The strength of the firm is the people. They are a small close knit team all with a proven track record in insurance law.’

‘Michael Robertson and Jenifer Thompson are highly skilled individuals.’

‘I have done work with the team at Robertsons Law for more than ten years. I find their team very professional, always willing to help, extremely competent and consistently looking for new ways to add value and innovate.’

‘The team at Robertsons don’t start the clock ticking the moment you engage them. They frequently invest time and energy in existing relationships without charging for every consultation, understanding the value of long-term relationships. They are outside-of-the-box thinkers, who like to challenge the norm and come up with new and innovate ways of doing things. No job is too small or too big – I find them fantastic to deal with.’

Key clients

QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (in respect of both New Zealand and Australian claims)

Ando Insurance Group Limited

Allianz New Zealand

Aioi Nissay Dowa Management (NZ) Limited

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co Limited

Markel Syndicate 3000 at Lloyd’s

Travelers Insurance Company Limited

WRB Underwriting

Willis Towers Watson

Lumley General Insurance (N.Z.) Limited and NZI, both businesses divisions of IAG New Zealand Limited

Delta Insurance New Zealand Limited

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Crow Horwath

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh's insurance group comprises litigation, regulatory, competition, finance and corporate lawyers, for whom matters relating to earthquakes and natural disasters are a prime focus. The work includes transactional advice and high-value disputes, among which are insurance disputes of public importance in relation to the Earthquake Commission's obligations arising from the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence of 2010. Commercial litigation partners Marika Eastwick-Field and Nathaniel Walker lead the practice from Auckland. Eastwick-Field handles both contentious and non-contentious insurance matters, while Walker is a key adviser to the Earthquake Commission. The firm's most senior litigator Malcolm Crotty is also involved in insurance matters. Emmeline Rushbrook in Wellington handles law reform, compliance and enforcement matters.

Key clients

Earthquake Commission

Work highlights

  • Acted for Earthquake Commission in Gibling v Earthquake Commission, which was brought as an important and precedent-setting “test” case about the common law duties owed by EQC in the context of its statutory insurance function. The lead proceedings (Gibling) were settled in August 2019 in the context of a new Government policy to assist claimants in similar situations.
  • Acted for Earthquake Commission in Allianz Australia Insurance Limited v Earthquake Commission, which was a dispute regarding the apportionment of costs between an insurer and EQC. This was a significant claim concerning EQC’s liability for natural disaster damage to an apartment building during the Canterbury earthquake sequence, which was important as the Court would have needed to consider a wide range of insurance issues, including principles relating to constructive total loss and the feasibility / viability of repair methodologies (including the proper time for such an assessment to be made).
  • Acted for Earthquake Commission in He v Earthquake Commission, which was a dispute regarding the extent of damage to Mr He’s property caused by the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence (and, consequently, the extent of EQC’s and the private insurers’ liability to Mr He). The firm acted successfully for EQC on the appeal heard in the Court of Appeal in 2019. The Court considered evidence of pre-existing damage and articulated the key legal principles as being the burden of proof, the meaning of “damage” in the context of the claim and the approach on appeal.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson's practice advises on all aspects of liability, life, fire and general, including material damage and business interruption, public liability, product liability, professional indemnity, directors and officers, statutory liability, health, life, trauma and income protection insurance. The firm's work stems from its prominent role in corporate, regulatory and litigation matters, which it provides to insurers, regulatory bodies and large corporates. Helen Smith in Christchurch, who is 'experienced, gets great results and is always keen to get claims resolved', and Robert Gapes in Auckland co-lead the practice. They call upon the talents of commercial litigators Jania Baigent in Auckland and Wellington-based John Shackleton, as well as corporate partner James Hawes in Auckland, to support their key insurance clients.

Practice head(s):

Helen Smith; Robert Gapes


‘Helen Smith has supplied great service to our professional clients for a number of years. She is particularly skilful in getting difficult clients on board with insurer requirements, and has achieved many cost-effective settlements for insurers and clients.’

‘Simpson Grierson assists us with professional indemnity claims and is both experienced and great to deal with in this area.’

‘Helen Smith is experienced, gets great results, and is always keen to get claims resolved.’

‘Extremely professional insurance team led by one of the leading most experienced insurance litigation partners in NZ. Helen Smith is very experienced and knowledgeable in all things related to insurance litigation. Helen is determined to get results and works tirelessly on her files to achieve this.’

Key clients

Financial Markets Authority

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (a global insurer listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange)

Wellington City Council

Fidelity Life Assurance Company Ltd

HDI Global SE (including HDI-Gerling)

nib Holdings

Wesfarmers General Insurance Limited


GE Finance and Insurance

Southern Cross Health Insurance

Work highlights

  • Former NZX and ASX-listed CBL Corporation Limited (in liquidation) collapsed in February 2018 with a market capitalisation of NZ$747million, and is one of New Zealand’s largest corporate failures. The firm advised the FMA on its nearly two-year investigation, and are now acting for it on two High Court civil proceedings against the company and its former directors and Chief Financial Officer. The claims relate to numerous alleged breaches of the continuous disclosure regime and disclosure failures during the company’s IPO.

Wilson Harle

Wilson Harle is an Auckland-based firm that focuses predominantly on litigation, and its four-partner team of Chris Browne, Allison Ferguson, Ian Denton and Felicity Monteiro is often the choice of overseas insurers and reinsurers for specialised or disputed claims. Among these clients are Lloyd’s syndicates and other London-based insurance firms. As one of the only firms in New Zealand with recognised insurance expertise that does not primarily act for local market general insurers, it frequently receives referrals from other law firms and insurance brokers to handle high-value cases. The firm has specialist expertise in shipping, fraud, including arson and insurance fraud, and  international trade insurance issues. It also supports clients in the insurance industry with advice on compliance, competition law and regulatory matters.

Key clients

Napier City Council

Marsh Limited

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.
  • Acted for Marsh in defending allegations of breach of duty in arranging insurance. BSM owns and operates an abattoir. An effluent pond at the abattoir was damaged causing effluent to seep out and BSM incurred significant cost in repairing it. IAG declined cover and BSM sued it and the supplier and installer of an aerator that is alleged to have damaged the pond. BSM sued Marsh alleging it is liable if there is no insurance. The proceeding settled.

Wynn Williams

Wynn Williams has a large dispute resolution group that is widely recognised for experience in professional indemnity, construction and statutory liability claims. The firm is frequently appointed to act for high-profile insured entities and to advise on indemnity issues. A key focus is earthquake and natural disaster claims resolution, with the firm acting for insurers and homeowners in relation to the Canterbury earthquakes. 'The service is impeccable', remarks one client while another describes the practice as 'approachable, friendly, reliable, trustworthy and knowledgeable'. Emily Walton in Christchurch and Richard Hern in Auckland, who is 'knowledgeable, efficient and a pleasure to deal with', lead the practice. Senior associate Ellie Harrison in Auckland and Richard Hargreaves in Christchurch are also lauded by clients.

Practice head(s):

Emily Walton; Richard Hern


‘I have always believed that Richard Hern and his team provided excellent knowledge and written advice. Their service is also impeccable which is very important at the level that they are being engaged at, and a prompt yet full explanation is always needed. When being compared to other firms, I find Wynn Williams excels with its service. Although other firms have excellent knowledge and expertise within their organisations, some of these other firms can be quite slow in providing assistance which can make interested parties uneasy.’

‘Richard Hern is our main contact at Wynn Williams. I find Richard very knowledgeable and efficient, and a pleasure to deal with. When reading his legal advice, I appreciate that they are very easy to follow and understand which is important as it is my role to relay this to interested parties such as the insurer, and/or the end customer. I have no hesitation with appointing Richard and his team on matters which require legal advice, when a fair approach to the claim is being sought.’

‘The team is approachable, friendly, reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable and up-to-date on current market developments. I think the wealth of knowledge around the real estate market and insureds is a unique feature of the firm.’

‘I have enjoyed working with Richard Hern. He is very approachable and willing to assist and offer knowledge and experience. His expertise in the real estate agent space is extremely helpful.’

‘Senior associate Richard Hargreaves appears to be a rising star in the firm. His practical and pragmatic solutions are very helpful and we have settled some claims with good results recently thanks to Richard’s advice. His approach is very cheerful and pleasant too.’

‘I have enjoyed working with senior associate Ellie Harrison and her past experience working for a Crown Prosecution firm has been helpful in the statutory liability space where her advice has been very pragmatic.’

‘Wynn Williams has amongst its team some people who know real estate very well and are very experienced in dealing with a wide range of real estate issues and disputes. Importantly, our insurer also recognises that expertise and is comfortable with us requesting their involvement in insurance cases.’

‘Richard Hern is an expert in dealing with ‘vexatious litigants’. He has excellent knowledge of real estate issues and disputes generally and has provided expert assistance to us in dealing with such matters.’

Key clients

AIG and its insured, a national building inspection company

NZ Brokers / Newline Underwriting

NZI Liability and its insured builder Jeremy Parratt

AIG and its insured Cedenco

AIG and its insured, a firm of accountants

Provident Insurance

AIG and its insured Robyn Bond

AIG and its insured L J Hooker Dunedin

AIG and its insured Cleaver Richards Ltd

Delta and its insured, an architect

Work highlights

  • Acted for AIG and its insured, the Wellington franchise of a prominent national building inspection company. AIG’s insured was joined to proceedings alongside the vendor of a leaky home. It was alleged that our client’s report was negligent in missing signs of water ingress.
  • Instructed by NZ Brokers scheme-provider Lloyds syndicate Newline Underwriting to defend a negligence claim against a broker in circumstances where there was no construction works insurance available for a fire which broke out in premises undergoing works.
  • Acted for NZI Liability and its insured builder Jeremy Parratt in a case in which the plaintiff alleges, against EQC and the Christchurch City Council (CCC), that the earthquake repairs to a house she has purchased are inadequate and defective and she is claiming remediation costs of $868,000 against both. The CCC has joined Fletcher Building Limited and our client, the builder who undertook the repairs as first and second third parties respectively.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp acts for domestic and international insurers, including a global multiline insurer. Its main focus is on complex commercial and regulatory matters for insurers and corporates, with its work spanning policy drafting, securities law issues, new product development and captive insurance arrangements. Litigator Garth Gallaway in Christchurch handles professional indemnity, statutory liability and public liability matters. John Knight in Wellington who focuses on insurance and maritime law disputes.

Other key lawyers:

Garth Galloway; John Knight