Insurance in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully has a key role in earthquake litigation and is also a prominent player in corporate transactions and insolvencies involving major insurers. The firm's work for Southern Response Earthquake Services is a key part of its practice, though it has also handled significant matters arising from the Canterbury earthquakes for insurers Vero, AIG, Zurich, QBE, Chubb, and IAG. Last year, the firm handled more 40 insurance claims in the High Court. In Auckland, head of litigation David Friar and Simon Ladd, who is litigation liaison for key insurer client Suncorp,  are the lead partners. The firm also has significant regulatory expertise in the insurance sector, including matters in relation to the Insurance Prudential Supervision Act and Reserve Bank insurance requirements.

Practice head(s):

David Friar; Simon Ladd

Other key lawyers:

Glenn Joblin; Morgan Powell; Sarah McQueen

Key clients

AIA International Limited / Sovereign Limited / Sovereign Life (NZ) Limited

AMP Life Limited

Aon plc

Southern Cross Medical Care Society

Southern Response Earthquake Services

Tower Limited

Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited

Willis Group Limited

Medical Assurance Society NZ Limited


Work highlights

  • Bell Gully advised AIA on the acquisition of the Sovereign life insurance businesses for NZ$3.8bn.
  • Acting for Southern Response in relation to a class action brought against the insurer by a group of its customers.
  • Acting for Resolution Life on the New Zealand aspects of its acquisition of AMP’s wealth protection and mature businesses (AMP Life) for total cash and non-cash consideration of AUD3.3bn.
  • Acted for a panel of insurers (Vero, AIG, Zurich, QBE, Chubb, and IAG) defending a proceeding by Lincoln University under a material damage and business interruption policy arising from the Canterbury Earthquakes.
  • Acting for Southern Response in an important test case in the High Court that will consider whether full and final settlement agreements entered into between an insurer and the insured are truly final.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand is 'a leader within our market - the service is prompt and cost-effective with a strong results driven focus'. Caroline Laband in Auckland leads the practice and is the key partner in the firm's caseload of residential earthquake claims, though she also focuses on insurance matters in the financial and professional services sector. The Auckland office is also home to newly promoted partners Misha Henaghan, who works with key clients Chubb and AIA, and Brad Cuff, whose broad practice includes acting for fire and general insurers covering material damage and business interruption, public and product liability, professional indemnity and statutory liability. Peter Leman in Wellington is a leading light in property and liability disputes, as well as the defence of professional indemnity claims.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Laband

Other key lawyers:

Peter Leman; Misha Henaghan; Brad Cuff; Richard Tosh; Sophie Hudson


“The team is practical and efficient, does not take pedantic issues and it is prepared to go to court when necessary.”

“Brad Cuff is an excellent practical insurance litigator, who has a great sense of when to settle and when to press on to court.”

“Peter Leman is a very able insurance lawyer and successful mediation lawyer.”

“Caroline Laband and Brad Cuff provide excellent service with a results-driven focus. Both are very personable and understand our business.”

“The firm stands out because of its long-standing understanding of the insurance sector in New Zealand and the quality of some of its partners. Over the past several years, it has been involved in several novel and complex insurance issues stemming from the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes and has acquired deep knowledge as a result.”

“They have been able to leverage their international links, particularly in Australia, around conduct and culture matters, which are now top of mind for insurers.”

“Caroline Laband and Peter Leman stand out as the two key individuals and ‘go-to’ people. Caroline is extremely thorough and across key issues and has won some big cases. Peter has a good understanding of the issues.”

“The team communicates very well and is interested in how we operate as an insurer. They take time to get to know our team members and the type of claims that we each handle.”

“The firm is happy to give guidance on matters that we are not appointing legal counsel on without charge.”

“Misha Henaghan is very personable and never rushes with explaining concepts or giving guidance. She is very positive and patient. Caroline Laband is also very good to work with – pragmatic and considered in her approach. Richard Tosh is a very safe pair of hands with all matters.”

“Well-organised and well-resourced, with their finger on the details, every member is focused. They were an absolute pleasure to work with.”

“Caroline Laband is still one of the best, if not the best, insurance solicitors in NZ. She manages her team very effectively, as well as carrying out her own role.”

“Peter Leman is very knowledgeable and practical.”

“Sophie Hudson is very good at having all the details and the source documents at her fingertips. She has all the knowledge and skills to be highly successful.”

“The team has a wealth of technical knowledge and expertise but always delivers pragmatic advice in way that means that they are a seamless extension of our in-house team. Another stand out is the alignment of the team’s values to our own operating philosophy.”

“Misha Henaghan can always be relied upon to provide pragmatic advice and specialist knowledge, and to meet tight deadlines. The senior associates in Misha’s team including Caroline Halliday and Sophie Hudson have a real understanding of our business, key priorities and drivers and this is reflected in their excellent service.”

“The firm has a collaborative style which works well with our philosophies and strategies. We work well as a team, communication is great and they are always happy to provide well thought out advice when required.”

“Peter Leman is very pragmatic and commercially aware, and he is resolution or outcome-focused in the first instance, as opposed to being overly litigious.”

Key clients

DUAL New Zealand Limited

Allianz Australia & NZ Insurance Limited

IAG New Zealand Limited

Zurich New Zealand

Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited


Chubb Insurance

AIG New Zealand Limited

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company Limited

Lloyd’s of London: Various syndicates not individually named

Insurance Council of New Zealand

Aon New Zealand

Marsh New Zealand

Crombie Lockwood (New Zealand) Limited

Cunningham Lindsey New Zealand Limited

Steadfast Group

AIA International Limited

Tower Insurance Limited

Holmes Consulting Group LP

Fidelity Investments Inc.

Medical Assurance Society


International Underwriting Agencies Limited

Rothbury Group

Nautilus Marine Underwriting Agency Pty

Work highlights

  • Advised IAG New Zealand Limited on a Supreme Court industry test case to determine whether the reinstatement benefit under a residential property insurance policy can be assigned to a purchaser of the property.
  • Advised Allianz Australia Insurance Limited on a Court of Appeal hearing on double insurance claim brought by QBE.
  • Acting for Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co Ltd and Vero Insurance New Zealand Ltd in a two-week High Court trial on NZ$200m property damage claim.
  • Acting for Tower Insurance in a Court of Appeal hearing on estoppel relating to property damage from the Canterbury earthquakes.
  • Acted for IAG New Zealand Limited in a High Court trial on a commercial property damage claim brought by claim by the owner of a property containing four commercial buildings, which had been damaged by the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011.

Fee Langstone

Fee Langstone in Auckland is a specialist insurance and commercial litigation practice consisting of seven partners following the promotion of newly promoted partners Virginia Wethey and Russell Stewart. The firm acts for numerous major domestic and overseas insurers. Name partners Philippa Fee (who is 'fiercely intelligent but takes a pragmatic and commercial approach to the resolution of insurance disputes') and Craig Langstone, along with property insurance specialist Cecily Brick, are among the market's leading lights. Pauline Davies is a leading adviser on marine insurance. The firm's formal relationship with Clyde & Co LLP has expanded its work in many areas, notably cyber insurance, and Langstone now leads a Data Breach Response team together with external providers of data forensics recovery, public relations crisis management and business interruption forensic accounting.

Practice head(s):

Philippa Fee; Craig Langstone; Pauline Davies; Cecily Brick; Matthew Atkinson; Virginia Wethey; Russell Stewart

Other key lawyers:

Bradley Alcorn; Fran Darlow; Angus Wakeman;


“The practice has a mix of individuals with a strong understanding of the law, a good grasp of the industry and a sound commercial acumen which means that advice is accurate, practical and reliable. When you have received advice from most of the practitioners in the field, you learn to appreciate and identify when you are receiving quality legal service.”

“In my view, Philippa Fee is the leading insurance practitioner in the country. Her advice is concise, clear and easy to understand.”

“Matthew Atkinson has a strong experience in the insurance industry. He brings calm, measured and reliable advice. He is a quiet and dependable achiever in industry full of extroverts.”

“Cecily Brick grasps difficult concepts and is a reliable operator. She delivers what is needed.”

“Virginia Wethey’s experience has been recognised by her recent appointment to the partnership. She is enthusiastic and practical in her approach.”

“Within the insurance industry, marine insurance is considered a specialist field and Fee Langstone have marine insurance expertise by way of Pauline Davies and senior associate Bradley Alcorn. Pauline Davies has established herself as a leading expert in all matters marine and we seek her advice on all classes including Marine Cargo, Pleasure Craft, Commercial Hull and Marine Liability products.”

“The advice we receive is sound and on point in terms of what we as the insurer require and it allows us to respond to our customers.”

“Pauline Davies’ strengths lie in, policy interpretation, recovery action and settlement negotiation. What sets Pauline apart from the others is her ability to articulate complex marine concepts and communicate her response in a way where the insurer is able to understand and in turn relay this information to our end customers.”

“I feel when working with Pauline Davies that we are partners ultimately looking for a solution to a problem if one can be found. Pauline also assists with advice on unique marine underwriting risks and is acknowledged for her expertise and sound interpretation of the Institute Clauses. We feel her skills in marine insurance are unique and if not the top is amongst the top marine legal experts in the marine industry.”

“Fee Langstone has a team of smart and capable lawyers with an excellent understanding of insurance law and what insurers expect.”

“Philippa Fee shows good judgment and has a wealth of experience. She is an effective courtroom lawyer who has had some excellent results for us.”

“Virginia Wethey is smart and capable, gets to the point quickly and can grapple with complex legal issues.”

“Fee Langstone has a good cross-section of strong insurance lawyers at all levels which allows them to provide a cost-effective service, which is very important as insurance panel lawyers. They are consistently excellent to deal with: friendly, responsive and skilful. I know that my files are in safe sets of hands.”

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

“Fee Langstone is probably our top performing law firm across a range of insurance work. It provides clear, concise and no nonsense advice at a reasonable cost. The partners are always only a phone call away to discuss any issues.”

“Philippa Fee is my ‘go-to’ person for any complex PI and D&O matters.”

“Matthew Atkinson is very solid and you can rely on him to get the job done.”

“This team is a safe pair of hands. Their advice is consistently thoughtful and accurate and they work well together, without too many individuals on each file. Their focus is on a pragmatic, cost-effective solution for each claim.”

“Philippa Fee is my ‘go-to’ lawyer for indemnity advice over a range of policies. Her advice stands up under scrutiny and is delivered in a timely manner.”

Key clients



AIG Australia

AIG Europe (UK) Ltd

Allianz ACG

Allianz Australia Ltd

Allianz New Zealand


Berkshire Hathaway

Chubb Insurance NZ

Club Marine Ltd

Crombie Lockwood


FMG Insurance Ltd

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

Zurich Australia

Wotton + Kearney

Wotton + Kearney is a specialist insurance firm that acts for a large proportion of the global and London-based insurers, as well as numerous local brokerages and corporate insureds. It is frequently involved in high-profile matters relating to professional indemnity, property, employment practices liability (EPL), medico-legal and cybersecurity, as well as general liability, and directors and officers claims. In 2018, the firm expanded its medical malpractice and EPL teams with the arrival of a team from DLA Piper New Zealand including new head of medico-legal Sean O’Sullivan, and partners Aimee Credin and Adam Holloway. Practice head and managing partner Antony Holden is a key adviser to reinsurers, insurers and their customers on property and financial lines claims. Matthew Francis, special counsel Hugh King and senior associate Andrew Moore are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Antony Holden; Sean O’Sullivan

Other key lawyers:

Aimee Credin; Adam Holloway; Matthew Francis; Mark Anderson; Sophie Lucas; Rebecca Scott; Katie Shanks; Richard Flinn; Hugh King; Andrew Moore; Kylie Bates; Sierra Ryland; Natasha Cannon; Michael Cavanaugh


“In my view, no other firm in New Zealand compares.”

“They go out of their way to understand exactly what your requirements are, and they make sure they meet them.”

“All partners are able to get a good deal done at reasonable cost when the situation requires that.”

“They are now the largest insurance team in NZ, so have the widest capacity of all providers. They are customer-focused and seek to ensure that they handle instructions in the way that their clients require.

“Sophie Lucas is very pragmatic, good at achieving cost-effective resolution and very easy to deal with.”

“Antony Holden is one of the best lawyers around for coverage advice – technical excellence combined with pragmatic advice.”

“Rebecca Scott is my ‘go-to’ lawyer for employment disputes. She is knowledgeable, calm and pragmatic.”

“Richard Flynn is great at communicating complex legal issues in a clear and straightforward way.”

“The leading specialist insurance-only firm, delivering excellent results and giving its clients exactly what we need. It is always a pleasure dealing with this firm knowing that we are a valued client and are treated as such in every experience or exchange with them, across all levels.”

“Mathew Francis and Rebecca Scott are partners are both committed to delivering excellent results for us. Mathew in particular is meticulous in his approach to files and has exceptional technical expertise of the legal and wider issues.”

“Associate Alison Cupples has exceptional communication skills and understanding of the issues for someone of her level. She is capable and pragmatic in her approach and is readily available to discuss any of her files in the absence of the supervising partner.”

“It has a small firm mindset with big firm attributes. You have access to the partners and associates you want, when you want.”

“Andrew Moore and Antony Holden are some of the best lawyers I have ever worked with. They have depth and breadth of knowledge, a highly strategic and entrepreneurial view, and are highly articulate with an ability to communicate complex ideas and issues in a straightforward, easy to understand manner.”

“It is a young, capable, ambitious firm that is constantly developing and improving the breadth of experience in its partnership and wider team. The culture of the firm shines through to the way they interact with their clients and opposition.”

“Antony Holden has a great manner, is very personable and takes a commercial approach to resolving claims He is great at bringing parties together to work towards a resolution.”

“Sophie Lucas is extremely smart and works vey well with insureds. As an insurer, I feel like my insureds are in very safe, capable hands and that Sophie will lead them through the process.”

“Other standouts in the firm are Sean O’Sullivan, who provides very sensible, commercial employment advice, and Richie Flinn, who is very capable and is also great with insureds.”

“They take the time to understand your key drivers and what the outcome needs to be, including but not limited to the legal solution.”

“Richie Flinn is very kind and willing to work with difficult clients without getting caught up in the emotion of the situation. Anthony Holden has an amazing network of contacts and also has an incredibly professional manner.”

“Rebecca Scott is a leader in her field of expertise and deals with sensitive matters extremely well. I would trust her implicitly.”

“Natasha Cannon is organised and understands her key role in the management of matters for our company.”

“Mark Anderson is becoming a go to for us in the Health and Safety space – he is passionate about justice.”

Key clients

AIG New Zealand


Crombie Lockwood

Chubb Insurance

DUAL New Zealand

Medical Practitioners Society (MPS)

MS Amlin (Lloyd’s)

Munich Re

QBE Syndicate 386 (Lloyd’s)

Vero Liability New Zealand

Zurich Australian Insurance

Work highlights

  • In Appanna v Anglesea Hospital Ltd the firm led a claim for breach of contract brought on behalf of a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist against a private hospital.
  • Instructed by DUAL to defend a claim against a solicitor acting as a professional trustee brought by liquidators of an unrelated financial services provider.
  • Instructed by Ando Insurance to advise on expert investigations on the cause of a fire at a car dealership in New Plymouth, the liability claims and to conduct a recovery against the third-party contractor whose negligent work caused the fire.
  • Advised RDT Pacific limited on a claim relating to weather-tightness issues at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu’s building in Wellington.
  • Acted for Utilities Disputes Ltd and its Commissioner, Nanette Moreau, in defending declaratory judgment proceedings brought by one of New Zealand’s largest utility companies.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp acts for numerous large New Zealand and international insurers, including AMP and Tower, as well as a global multiline insurer. Its main focus is on complex commercial and regulatory matters for both insurers and corporates. Its work encompasses policy drafting, securities law issues, new product development and captive insurance arrangements. The key partners are Garth Gallaway in Christchurch, who handles professional indemnity, statutory liability and public liability insurance and is a leading expert in health and safety law; litigator John Knight in Wellington, who focuses on insurance, maritime law and resource management; and, also in Wellington, Bruce Scott who acts for local and international insurers in public liability, general claims and income protection claims.

Gilbert Walker

Gilbert Walker in Auckland is a specialist advisory and dispute resolution firm that frequently acts for liability insurers in complex and sensitive matters. Among its clients are major corporates, banks, professional firms and insurers, including leading professional indemnity insurer Vero Liability, NZI Professional Risks, Tower Group, Allianz and Aon. The firm is best known for its advocacy skills in  arbitrations, mediations, construction adjudications, and other forms of dispute resolution. Practice head Matthew Harris has extensive experience in property and liability insurance disputes, at all levels of the courts, and has successfully defended professionals in disciplinary proceedings and in civil proceedings at trial and appellate level for many years. Martin Smith has more than 15 years' experience in property and liability insurance matters.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Harris

Other key lawyers:

Martin Smith

Key clients

Vero Liability Insurance Ltd

Aon New Zealand

NZI Professional Risks (a division of IAG New Zealand)



Work highlights

  • Act for Tower Insurance in the defence of High Court proceedings brought against it by policyholders arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
  • Acted for Vero Liability, with Campbell Walker QC as counsel, in successfully defending a claim by a property owner for indemnity against a third party liability claim arising out of a warehouse fire.
  • Successfully resisted an appeal by a party pursuing an Allianz-insured surveyor working for WSP Opus, a leading construction and infrastructure consultancy, in relation to the survey of a parcel of land in the upper North Island.

Hesketh Henry

The dispute resolution practice at Hesketh Henry in Auckland handles insurance matters as part of a broad range of litigation. It has one of New Zealand's largest insurance defence and litigation teams and counts AIG Insurance, Suncorp Group, Dual and Lloyds of London syndicates among its key clients. The practice works closely with other groups including construction, cyber, trade, employment and transport to advise on insurance matters relevant to those sectors. Senior litigation partner Brett Morley and Alan Sherlock, who has almost 30 years' experience in litigation and expertise in marine insurance, fire and general, reinsurance and third-party liability, are the lead partners. Morley frequently acts for onshore and offshore insurers, brokers, and insured and uninsured parties, both as claimants and defendants.

Practice head(s):

Alan Sherlock; Brett Morley

Other key lawyers:

Christina Bryant; Helen Macfarlane; Simon Cartwright; Nick Gillies; Stephanie Corban; Anna Barnett


‘Strong technical yet very practical advice, especially in the employment team. Very approachable and practical teams in general.’

‘Anna Barnett is very helpful, hardworking and responsive.’

Key clients

Suncorp Group New Zealand Limited (including Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited and AA Insurance Limited)

AIG Insurance New Zealand Limited

Dual NZ Limited

Lexis Nexis New Zealand Limited

Lloyd’s of London syndicates


MinterEllisonRuddWatts has a strong team of four litigation partners and three regulatory partners, who advise multi-national insurance brokers including Aon and Marsh on their most significant contentious insurance matters, as well as handling policy design and drafting and interpretation. The firm is frequently being appointed by insurers to act for insureds or as monitoring counsel in a broad range of litigation and investigations, and is involved in high-value matters such as the NZ$200m claim against client Aon by Lyttelton Port Company Limited. Andrew Horne leads a practice that is 'very approachable, always available and very knowledgeable across a broad spectrum of subjects'. Senior associate Nick Frith is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Horne

Other key lawyers:

Stacey Shortall; Jeremy Muir; Wendy Blennerhassett; Nick Frith; Olivia de Pont; Duncan Mackenzie


“Andrew Horne and Nick Frith have worked on a very high-profile professional Indemnity claim in which has attracted media and political attention. This claim could have easily got out of control, however the work Andrew and Nick performed and the recommendations they made have allowed insurers to smooth the settlement process and kept the insured on side as we worked through the large number of claims made.”

“A dedicated, proactive team of professionals who get the job done in a timely manner.”

“They provide good rapport and quick response times.”

Key clients

Aon New Zealand

Medical Assurance Society New Zealand Limited and Medical Insurance Society Limited (MAS)

Aon (Vanuatu) Limited

Youi NZ Pty Limited

AMP Life Limited

Marsh Limited


Vibe Syndicate Management Limited

PPS Samoa

Work highlights

  • Acted for Aon in proceedings brought against it by former client Lyttelton Port Company Limited in which LPC claimed over NZ$200m, comprising NZ$173m in damages plus interest and costs.
  • Sole counsel for Medical Assurance Society New Zealand Limited and Medical Insurance Society Limited in Canterbury earthquake claim resolution and litigation legal services.
  • Acted for Aon in relation to a claim by insureds against their insurer following destruction of their resort property by Cyclone Pam in March 2015.
  • Acting for Youi NZ Pty Limited in connection with a threatened claim arising from a house fire at a large historic house in Warkworth, which was insured by Youi for NZ$1.5m.
  • Acting for AMP in High Court proceedings brought by an individual seeking backdated income protection payments from AMP and another insurer.


'Niche insurance law specialists with some of the best talent in the sector', says a client of Robertsons in Auckland. The senior team, which has more than 90 years' combined experience in insurance law and claims handling, has in-depth experience in all areas of insurance. It counts QBE Insurance, Ando Insurance, Allianz New Zealand, Delta Insurance and Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance among its clients. Michael Robertson (who is 'is hugely experienced, knows how insurers work and has good instincts') and Helen Twomey (who is 'a very smart lawyer and gets to the key points succinctly') lead the practice. Robertson specialises in professional indemnity, general liability and directors and officers insurance. Twomey's core focus is liability insurance, which includes claims involving the legal and accounting professions and the financial services sector.

Practice head(s):

Michael Robertson; Helen Twomey


“Robertsons has a huge amount of experience in liability insurance law. The team is very capable and well versed in all facets of liability. What makes it unique is that their staff are personable and can have a technical conversation in person or over the phone with our staff, insureds and brokers and easily articulate complex issues without overwhelming the less experienced individuals.”

“They excel in providing comprehensive written summaries that read easily and don’t over complicate delivery of information. They are pragmatic and commercial.”

“Michael Robertson and Helen Twomey are open and honest with information and are always prepared to have frank conversations over prickly issues. They are proactive on notifications where complexity or conflict may arise. They are extremely professional in their delivery which gives me the utmost confidence in them dealing directly with our insureds and broker partners. They are very accommodating with our demanding timelines and deliver on their promises.”

“Very good breadth and depth from Michael Robertson down. Very strong below partner level also.”

“Robertsons are insurance law experts with a lot of experience acting for insurers.”

Key clients

QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited

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

Delta Insurance New Zealand Limited

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Crowe Horwath

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended Loo & Koo at trial with allegations of dishonesty against them be entirely rejected.
  • Successfully argued for the dismissal of an application for leave to appeal before the Supreme Court on behalf of a  leading underwriting agency in New Zealand for certain underwriters at Lloyd’s specialising in financial lines.
  • Represented the manufacturer in respect of a prosecution and successfully argued at the sentencing for a reduction in fine from $700,000 to $100,000.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh's insurance group is a multi-disciplinary team consisting of corporate, finance, litigation, regulatory and competition experts. The firm was recently appointed to the legal panel of the Earthquake Commission, New Zealand's statutory natural disaster insurer, to handle strategic test cases arising from the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010. Clients praise its 'great reputation for technical excellence as a firm'. It handles large and complex claims for corporate clients, including multimillion-dollar material damage claims arising from the recent Kaikoura earthquakes, as well as advising on policy matters. Commercial litigator Marika Eastwick-Field in Auckland financial regulation specialist Tom Hunt in Wellington are the lead partners.

Practice head(s):

Marika Eastwick-Field; Tom Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Mei Fern Johnson; Nathaniel Walker; Emmeline Rushbrook; Mark Campbell


“The firm has some individuals who stand in their area of expertise and the firm exhibits a high level of general competence.”

Key clients

Earthquake Commission

Work highlights

  • Representing the Earthquake Commission in litigation relating to earthquake damage occurring in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson provides specialist insurance advice across all sectors of the 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. It is known for its work on litigation, corporate transactions in the insurance sector, product liability management and regulatory matters. Robert Gapes in Auckland and Helen Smith in Christchurch are the lead partners. Gapes is one of New Zealand's most prominent product liability lawyers and he frequently advises domestic and multinational clients on matters involving asbestos, building products and tools, chemicals, electronics and much more. Smith acts for insurers in relation to liability, fire and general claims, including those arising out of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Practice head(s):

Robert Gapes; Helen Smith

Other key lawyers:

Jania Baigent; John Shackleton; James Hawes

Key clients

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

Wellington City Council

Fidelity Life Assurance Company Ltd

HDI-Gerling Industrial Insurance (Germany, Belgium, and Australia)

nib Holdings

Wesfarmers General Insurance Limited


GE Finance and Insurance

Southern Cross Health Insurance

Financial Markets Authority

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Financial Markets Authority in its investigation into the affairs of global insurer CBL Corporation, which was placed into voluntary administration in February 2018.
  • Acted for Fidelity Life Assurance Company Limited, one of New Zealand’s largest life insurance companies, in relation to court proceedings involving a claim against it for breach of contract.

Wilson Harle

Wilson Harle is a specialist litigation firm that handles significant insurance matters and is on the New Zealand All of Government External Legal Services provider panel, which sees it act for central government departments and Crown entities. The firm climbs the rankings and is highly regarded for its work defending insureds under D&O policies and where there is doubt regarding cover under liability policies. All four of the firm's partner – Ian Denton, Chris BrowneAllison Ferguson and Felicity Monteiro – all handle insurance matters. Denton is well known for competition, fair trading and consumer credit matters, while Browne handles insurance policy reviews and advises on statutory insurance charges. Ferguson has a broad commercial litigation practice. Monteiro has specialist expertise in shipping matters.

Practice head(s):

Chris Browne; Ian Denton; Allison Ferguson; Felicity Monteiro


‘An exceptionally hardworking, intelligent team that is flexible, accessible and easy to work with.’

‘Allison Ferguson is an outstanding litigation partner who is smart, hardworking and very good with people – both clients and in her persuasive role with opponents.’

Key clients

Marsh Limited

Napier City Council

KA Keys Trust and ESM Keys Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for Marsh, the international insurance broker, on a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters.
  • Acting for Marsh in defending allegations of breach of duty in arranging insurance following the seep of effluent into an abattoir.
  • Acting for Napier City Council in claim against indemnity insurance.
  • Acting for private trusts in relation to long running dispute over extent of insurance.

Wynn Williams

Wynn Williams has 'a strong team that has dealt with some very large earthquake claims and is great to work with', according to one client. The firm is well known for its work in earthquake and natural disaster claims, particularly those arising from the Canterbury earthquakes, and is also a prominent player in professional indemnity, fidelity, health, life and travel claims. Richard Hern in Auckland and Emily Walton in Christchurch lead the practice. Hern is an experienced trial lawyer who regularly represents insurers in professional indemnity, risk management, health, life and statutory liability matters. Walton is a leading light in domestic and commercial earthquake insurance claims.

Practice head(s):

Richard Hern; Emily Walton

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Woods; Ellie Harrison; Richard Hargreaves


“The firm has a smart, adaptable and practical approach.”

“Emily Walton is commercial, easy to get along with, and has an excellent understanding of the law and legal practice. She is a real standout partner.”

“The firm has a strong insurance litigation practice – both in terms of legal skills and advocacy skills.”

“Emily Walton is an outstanding lawyer. An intelligent, strong advocate with sound judgment and compassion.”

Key clients

Chubb Insurance Limited, and its insured, a supplier of commercial lubricants

Meat processing company

Pangani Properties

A property development company

AIG Insurance Limited and its insured, a Christchurch Insurance broker

A Christchurch architect’s Firm

AIG Insurance Limited and its insured, Auckland Real Estate Agents

Homeowner of earthquake damaged residential property in Christchurch

A large real estate company, one of its former agents and their insurer

Work highlights

  • Advised Chubb Insurance Limited, and its insured, a supplier of commercial lubricants, on proceedings seeking recovery of direct and consequential losses said to flow from the damage to machinery.
  • Advised a meat processing company on a contractual dispute around proposed unilateral alterations to a service agreement.
  • Acting for Pangani Properties in a case relating to breaches of estate agents’ duties to the client in the sale of commercial premises.
  • Defended a property developer in a workplace safety prosecution in relation to a death outside of the workplace in a District Court prosecution and then in a High Court appeal.
  • Represented an insurance broker in a claim made against it for placing cover with an insurer which went into liquidation.