Labour and employment in New Zealand

Bell Gully

Bell Gully’s team ‘is highly knowledgeable and able to provide advice in a balanced way that includes elements of risk management and commercial considerations’. The sizeable practice has expanded its corporate employment advisory and litigious offering with the arrival of experienced senior associates Sarah McFetridge in Auckland and in Wellington, Andrea Pazin, who lends her expertise acting for overseas clients and those operating within the education sector. The practice is regarded for its handling restructuring and redundancy issues as well as industrial relations engagements, and health and safety matters. Key names in Auckland include practice head and litigator Tim Clarke, who is active on health and safety prosecutions and compliance issues, and Liz Coats, who ‘has a fantastic approach’ in relation to supporting corporate transactions, industrial relations and dispute settlement. Rosemary Wooders goes ‘above and beyond to make the law accessible’. Rachael Brown  is the main contact in Wellington.

Practice head(s):

Tim Clarke

Testimonials

‘Liz Coates is calm, clear and able to provide assurances to lawyers and senior management throughout our business about how the employment dispute market works here in NZ. Fantastic to work with.’

‘Bell Gullly has been excellent in my dealings with them over a number of years now’

‘The responsiveness of the team with Rachael Brown at the helm and their ability to continually deliver during an extremely challenging period has been exemplary – thank you.’

‘The entire group and the board have been incredibly well supported in their work. Various members of the board have had direct engagement with the team and they collectively speak of the ease of the interaction, timeliness of advice and without exception the ease and enjoyment of the work.’

‘Very responsive, providing very client-centred expert advice that is both legal and pragmatic.’

Key clients

New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology

Ministry of Education

Rocket Lab

Department of Corrections

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing

Todd Corporation

Goodman Fielder

PHARMAC

Hawaiian Airlines

AIA

Lyttelton Port Company

Vodafone New Zealand

Sime Darby Motor Company

Work highlights

  • Advised EQT Infrastructure IV Fund on its NZ$1.49 billion acquisition of NZX-listed Metlifecare by way of a scheme of arrangement, including employment aspects of due diligence and sale and purchase agreement.
  • Advised Nippon Paper on its acquisition of the Fibre business of Orora Fibre in Australia and NZ for AU$1.7 billion, including employment aspects of due diligence, sale and purchase agreement and post-completion employment matters.
  • Acted for Goodman Fielder in a private prosecution brought by an injured worker who suffered injuries from a fall from height at a distribution centre.

Buddle Findlay

As ‘authoritative subject matter experts in their fieldBuddle Findlay’s sizeable team in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have a broad national reach and provide ‘smart pragmatic advice’ to predominantly blue-chip corporate employers, in the public and private sphere on complex employment and industrial relations issues. In Wellington, Peter Chemis and Hamish Kynaston are sought after advisors to governmental clients on litigious matters and health and safety prosecutions. Auckland based Sherridan Cook is likewise sought after for his expertise in corporate restructures, redundancy and collective bargaining. He is supported by Mere King, who made partner in July 2021. In Christchurch, Susan Rowe  and senior associate Sean Brookes ‘are outstanding practitioners in their field’.

Other key lawyers:

Mere King

Testimonials

‘Buddle Findlay make sure that they have an intimate knowledge of your organisation and sector. Because they know us so well, they are across legal aspects that directly impact us – pieces of legislation that may not effect other sectors.’

‘They are very reliable, organised, timely, knowledgeable and personable at the same time.’

‘The team is knowledgeable and rapidly gets across the issues. Pragmatic and responsive.’

‘Sherridan Cook is highly skilled and provides robust, considered advice. He is outcome-focused and works to build a trusting relationship with clients. I deeply respect his skill set and calm professional manner, which has helped us resolve a number of complex issues.’

Key clients

Vodafone New Zealand

Boeing

Lockheed Martin Global Incorporated

McDonalds Corporation

Sky Television

Emirates Airlines

Contact Energy

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Ministry of Social Development

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

New Zealand Police

New Zealand Customs Service

New Zealand Post

Christchurch City Council

Work highlights

  • Advised a number of clients, such as Dulux Group, New Zealand Blood Service, New Zealand Post, Panasonic Avionics and Wellington International Airport on the workplace implications of COVID-19, which included such matters as restructuring / redundancies, wage and leave payments, the ability to require health checks and vaccinations in the workplace and the implications of boarder closures on employees who were unable to return to New Zealand, among others.

Dundas Street

Dundas Street’s group of lawyers are praised as ‘approachable, personable, up to date with general knowledge and their own areas of expertise’. Described as ‘creative and innovative’ the Wellington based employment boutique is led by Susan Hornsby-Geluk, who is ‘simply a star’ in her field; she primarily acts in complex and high profile employment disputes, and has been appointed to a new Government panel as an Inquirer to lead high profile investigations. She also lends her expertise to Government agencies to provide input into the development of new law, including the recent reforms to pay equity law and the development of legislation relating to fair pay agreements. Founding partner Blair Scotland advises on workplace investigations and health and safety incidents. Ros Webby is the firms’ lead on collective bargaining within both public and private sectors, with David Traylor also acting on employment and industrial relation disputes. Senior associates Chloe Luscombe and Megan Vant are also highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Susan Hornsby-Geluk

Testimonials

‘What makes Dundas Street unique is that they understand our business. They have an affinity to our nation’s indigenous language and they use it in their workspace. Their strengths are their knowledge and experience of employment law which may sound cliche. But, the strength is our indigenous language and understanding how that impacts on wider Aotearoa.’

‘The representative our organisation has worked with understands our business, is a user of the nation’s indigenous language and places emphasis on ensuring our meetings recognises, observes and respects our language. Revitalisation of our indigenous language, te reo Māori, is highly regarded and respected by our representative and the organisation he represents.’

‘Dundas Street are employment law specialists. They are probably the top employment law firm in New Zealand.’

‘Susan Hornsby-Gulek in particular is extremely fast and always gives very clear advice. We always get excellent service from Susan.’

‘The firm is technically super-competent, non-adversarial, approachable, extraordinarily responsive, and really gets to know its clients.’

‘Susan Hornsby-Geluk is just fantastic! Actually outstanding. The best lawyer I have ever worked with. Incredibly bright, not afraid to fall on one side of the fence, a strong advocate but never adversarial.’

‘Susan Hornsby-Geluk has an unusual combination of being an excellent technical lawyer but also being able to take the legal advice and make it relevant and practical. She thinks of novel arguments, loves a good challenge and is outstanding in her bargaining and strike action expertise.’

‘Dundas Street is a niche and highly skilled legal practice that is a role model in being a strategic partner with your business. Many Legal firms proclaim to have this capability, but few achieve it at a personal level. Through their expertise, understanding of both your organisation and culture, they can quickly work with you to develop and execute solutions to address problems. Knowing they are always there and can respond with aligned solutions to balance the risk to the ongoing performance of the business makes them a trusted strategic business partner.’

‘Quite simply, they understand both the challenges of the organisation and what leaders are facing at an individual level. This personable approach means it is always about supporting you and not about their own status or organisation. Led by Susan Hornsby-Geluk, the culture is aligned throughout Dundas Street and all the team operates in the same manner. Through this flexibility they always provide quality advice in exceptionally fast time-frames, whatever the complexity of the issue.’

Key clients

Inland Revenue Department

Parliamentary Service

Ministry of Justice

Ministry of Education

Winstone Wallboards

Accident Compensation Commission

District Health Boards of New Zealand Central Advisory Services

Ministry of Health

Fire and Emergency NZ

Order of St John (National ambulance services)

Christchurch City Council

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ngai Tahu Tourism

Bay of Plenty Regional Council

New Zealand Nurses Organisation

Invocare New Zealand Limited

Turnkey Homes

Higgins Concrete

Universal College of Learning

Volunteer Service Abroad

SAFE

Department of Internal Affairs

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended Inland Revenue in a test case involving “labour hire” or “agency” workers. The union sought to argue that these types of relationships were contrary to international conventions, and had they been successful this case would have had massive implications for the labour hire industry.
  • Successfully represented the Police Association challenging the practice of the New Zealand Police in engaging officers on a “rotational” basis, thereby allowing the employer to transfer them to different roles and locations without their consent, and without paying contractual allowances. The Employment Court found this practice to be contrary to the Policing Act.
  • Advised the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment in the Government’s flagship Fair Pay Agreement legislation which is due to be enacted in late 2021.

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers

LangtonHudsonButcher, Lawyers’s team ‘is made up of pragmatic practical people with a strong understanding of the law but also a realistic perspective on the employment relationship and on business’. The employment firm has a strong national reputation for its negotiation, mediation and advocacy work in complex disputes, including payment disputes, determination of employee status and industrial relations. Its corporate transactional practice is equally experienced, led by founding partner and ‘the leader in the field of employment law in New Zealand’, Stephen Langton, who is particularly skilled advisor on fiduciary duties, and Ronelle Tomkinson. Andrew Schirnack’s clients ‘feel reassured by his input in dispute resolution’ and is noted for his advice to employers on managing workplace issues such as alleged bullying, harassment and incompatibility. Emma Butcher and Angela Evans departed in April 2021 to BE Law.

Testimonials

‘The outstanding service levels, quality of advice, negotiating abilities and litigation skills.’

‘Stephen Langton would be the top employment law partner and practitioner in NZ. Incredibly focused, superb service levels, very very strategic and an astonishingly good litigator.’

‘The firm is pragmatic in approach. It takes an appropriate approach to risk for our business. It is responsive, personable and builds strong relationships. Andrew Schirnack stands out.’

‘The firm shows high quality with breadth of experience with a specialist focus. They are responsive and are simply good people to deal with.’

‘They are quite simply experts in their field, carrying a depth of knowledge and experience that enables the appropriate response for the circumstance. No matter how fraught or emotionally charged the situation, they bring a sense of calm, logic and sense-making. This provides enormous confidence in us as the client, knowing the soundness of advice and quality of representation.’

‘At various points in my career I’ve worked with different partners and staff. In the past I very much enjoyed working with Emma Butcher. She was always accessible, encouraging about my own ability to manage a situation and often steering me to do so. She has a great deal of knowledge and is very personable.’

‘I now deal principally with Andrew Schirnack and it is fair to say that the issues we’ve dealt with have been varied and complex. I’ve never enjoyed better support or more responsiveness from any practitioner. Andrew is the voice of reason and fact that calms the storm. He also carries gravitas, although in a very subtle, kind way, when a situation is escalated. I’m constantly glad Andrew is on our side!’

‘I have largely worked with this firm as a corporate client but given the high level of trust and respect I have for them, I have twice referred them to family members for advocacy. They are well able to take a very balanced view and application of the legal framework whether for the employer, or employee.’

‘Senior associate Rebecca White is very responsive in her communication.’

‘The firm provides specialised employment law knowledge, prompt, “can do” responses and a 24/7 service.’

‘Ronelle Tomkinson was outstanding for quick grasp of our issues and amazing response time throughout a difficult period.’

‘This practice is unique in that every single person in the firm acts, speaks and presents themselves in an exceptionally professional manner. They are very prompt in carrying out tasks for clients. You are never left in any doubt that the team are there for you as a client. They are highly engaged and engaging. I have mainly dealt with Stephen Langton, Andrew Schirnack and Tess van Dadelzsen. All three and others in the firm that I have dealt with less often, embody the attributes I have outlined above.’

‘Stephen Langton and Andrew Schirnack exemplify all that is best in leadership of their team.’

‘A leading employment firm in New Zealand. No matter who you work with, you get great advice which is commercial but well grounded.’

‘They are highly pragmatic in how they operate. Stephen Langton always provides excellent and pragmatic advice. His experience is unrivalled and he can assist in any issue.’

‘Ronelle Tompkinson is a very safe pair of hands. She gives sound advice and guidance to navigate tricky issues.’

‘Andrew Schirnick is a quality operator. He is very understated and gives great options to resolve issues.’

‘They are professional employment law experts. I have found anyone I have dealt with at the firm to be very helpful and professional and goes out of their way to assist.’

‘I have worked with Andrew Schirnack in my roles with two different organisations. I chose to deal with Andrew a second time in my new role because I find his advice to be commercially pragmatic and that he genuinely partners with your business to give sensible, outcome-focused advice. This is in addition to having an excellent knowledge of NZ employment law!’

‘LHB is a small boutique firm which means we know all of the staff and at any time we engage one of them and any handover is seamless. Their strength lies in understanding our business and our risk appetite. They trust the capability of our team and will provide advice in light of our in-house expertise, providing concise advice in a timely manner.’

Key clients

Abano Health Care Group Limited

Tourism Holdings Limited

Vector Limited

Restaurant Brands Limited (which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Junior and Taco Bell in New Zealand, KFC and Taco Bell in Australia, and Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in Hawaii)

Bayleys Realty Group

Spark New Zealand Trading Limited

GEA New Zealand Limited

Freightways Express Limited (which owns New Zealand Couriers, Messenger Services Limited, Post Haste, Castle Parcels, Fieldair Holdings, TIMG and New Zealand Document Exchange)

Super Retail Group (which owns Super Cheap Auto and Macpac in New Zealand)

Gate Gourmet New Zealand Limited

Les Mills Holdings Limited

Tower Limited

Deloitte NZ

The Selwyn Foundation

Postie Plus Group Limited

NZME Publishing Limited

Xero Limited

Godfrey Hirst Limited

Canon New Zealand Limited

BECA Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Tourism Holdings Limited in the Court of Appeal, and now on an appeal to the Supreme Court, in the first test case on the interpretation of the provisions in the Holidays Act that apply to variable pay employees, whose pay includes commissions, overtime and alike.
  • Represented Restaurant Brands Limited, as intervener, in the Court of Appeal in relation to two important and novel legal issues that have not been determined in New Zealand. The case concerns employee statutory minimum entitlements brought by the Labour Inspector in the Employment Relations Authority. This is a status case, and the Inspectorate claims that Pizza Hut delivery drivers are employees, notwithstanding they are engaged as independent contractors.
  • Acting for Vector Limited in this “team-move” claim in the High Court in Christchurch against two of its former employees, and their new employer. Vector alleges the Defendants conspired with each to harm it, by unlawful means (namely, breaches of the two former employees of their employment duties, duties of confidence, and fiduciary duties).

MinterEllisonRuddWatts

MinterEllisonRuddWatts operates out of Wellington and Auckland and is lauded for its ‘ability to understand the individual business and provide solutions and guidance that clients can easily use’. Wellington practice head, Megan Richards has over 30 years’ experience working in employment law across the UK, Australia and New Zealand and applies her international background to assist large foreign and domestic employers in her consultancy and contentious work, often involving investigating and addressing complaints. In Auckland, Gillian Servicehas an exceptional team who are able to provide implementable and practical advice’. Her key areas of work include unionised workforces, flexible working practices and the Holidays Act. In the same office, Aaron Lloyd advises on white-collar criminal and regulatory advice and litigation, often connected to employment matters, and June Hardacre is recommended for executive appointments and terminations, restraints of trade and protection of confidential information. Special counsel Emma Warden in Wellington is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Megan Richards; Gillian Service

Other key lawyers:

Aaron Lloyd; Emma Warden

Testimonials

‘Very responsive, very practical and solution-orientated. The documentation is always right first time.’

‘They are always available at any hour of the day. They always deliver to the time frame. They always listen to your needs and always get a win/win solution.’

Key clients

IBM New Zealand Limited

AWF Madison Group (including Madison Recruitment Limited and AWF LImited)

OneFortyOne Limited

ASSA ABLOY New Zealand Ltd

Fedex (and TNT)

Honda New Zealand Limited

NZB Finco Limited (NZ Bus)

The Warehouse Group Limited

Qantas Airways Limited (including Jetstar Airways Limited and Jetconnect Limited)

Deloitte

Broadspectrum

Work highlights

  • Represented Madison Recruitment as a defendant in a full bench two-week Employment Court worker status hearing under s6 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA). The hearing focused on the real nature of several triangular employment relationships.
  • Advised Oranga Tamariki on a variety of employment matters involving actual or potential litigation in the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court, including advising on how to manage employees who are breaching their terms of employment or engaging in suspected misconduct and responding to grievances from employees.
  • Successfully advised and partnered with Go Bus on its strategy for collective negotiations in which its focus was to engage with workers and rebuild its relationship with them without the need for the union.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson’s leading employment practice is best known for its involvement in industrial relations, representing employers in a number of leading test cases and developing case law around union rights, industrial action and collective bargaining. The group has developed strong relationships within the education sector, and counts Independent Schools of NZ Association and Auckland University, among its clients. Practice head Phillipa Muir, John Rooney, Rebecca Rendle and Samantha Turner are continuing to advise several large corporations on issues with inadvertent non-compliance with the Holidays Act 2003 and their obligations to remedy holiday pay underpayments. The partners are also actively supporting private and public sector employers on aspects of Covid-19, such as implementing large scale restructures and responding to personal grievances, and preparing applications for employers to bring critical workers into New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Phillipa Muir

Testimonials

‘A dynamic team that has an understanding of others portfolios. Thought leaders and professionals in their discipline. Personable and easy to talk to, they make complex matters simple.’

‘The team have a strong pragmatic approach and have spent time getting to know our business and the industry within which we operate so they can understand the context behind some of the labour and employment relations challenges we face.’

Key clients

PGG Wrightson Ltd

University of Auckland

Holidays Act

Westpac

Waikato District Health Board

Auckland District Health Board

Sport New Zealand

Department of Corrections

Ministry of Social Development

Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children

Ministry of Education

Work highlights

  • Represented the University of Auckland in relation to a claim of unjustified dismissal from a former professor of the University, following a restructuring within the School.
  • Providing ongoing employment law advice and support to Westpac in relation to a number of matters, such as triangular employment issues, senior executive issues and disciplinary processes, advising in relation to union related matters and collective bargaining.
  • Represented the Ministry of Social Development in difficult and sensitive disciplinary investigations when employee’s actions were found to have amounted to serious misconduct as well as medical incapacity issues. We have also advised on issues arising out of bargaining and claims advanced by the relevant union, the Public Service Association.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper impresses with its ‘fantastic overall knowledge’ in employment law and health and safety. Its lawyers ‘are effective and timely with responses’ in contentious and non-contentious matters, working to support managers and employers in corporate support in M&A transactions, investigations into bullying and harassment, and as defence counsel to health and safety prosecution. Grant Nicholson is an authority on such prosecutions by the regulator and the police, he successfully defended Smart Environmental, a waste management collection and management company, against charges of reckless conduct in which a rubbish collection truck driver was killed when he fell from his vehicle and was run over by it. Kathryn McKinney heads the employment law side of the practice. Nicola Tiffen, immigration partner joined Duncan Cotterill in May 2021.

Key clients

White Island Tours

Allpress International

Chorus New Zealand

KiwiRail

Pacific Radiology

Treescape

Villa Maria Estate

Leighs Construction

NZI Insurance

Vero Liability Insurance

Robert Walters NZ limited

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand

ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems NZ Limited

Essilor NZ

Work highlights

  • Defending Flick Anticimex, a multi-national fumigation business prosecution by WorkSafe New Zealand, following an investigation in which a worker was hospitalised with symptoms arising from exposure to methyl bromide – a controversial industrial fumigant which has been banned in a number of overseas jurisdictions. This is one of a few cases where WorkSafe is prosecuting employers as a result of health related concerns, and not in relation to workplace incidents.
  • Supported TPL Access Ltd, a specialist access equipment hire and installation business to prepare an application to WorkSafe for an enforceable undertaking, resulting from an incident in which a roofing contractor was seriously injured with the investigation finding that the edge protection had not been installed correctly by TPL, and did not comply with industry standards.
  • Advised and represented McConnell Dowell in an investigation and prosecution into the death of a member of the public who was struck by a concrete truck delivering concrete to a worksite controlled by a joint venture between McConnell Dowell and Downer New Zealand.

Chapman Tripp

Practice head(s):

Marie Wisker

Key clients

 

 

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan has a strong presence in the public sector, as well as in retail, energy, infrastructure, creative, transport and technology. The firm advises on various aspects of employment law, with proficiency in restraint of trade, breach of confidentiality and team move issues, as well as having extensive litigation experience. Health and safety is a developing area, with an increase in instructions and investigations with WorkSafe New Zealand. Based in Auckland, James Warren advises on the full range of UK and New Zealand employment law aspects; he is supported by Charlotte Parkhill, who handles investigations into harassment, bullying and discrimination. Health and safety expert Greg Cain  leads the Wellington team. He regularly argues cases in the Employment Court ranging from dismissals and discrimination claims to enforcement of restraints of trade. He is assisted by senior associate Renee Butler .

Key clients

Auckland Transport

Naylor Love

Department of Corrections

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited

Michael Hill International

Serco New Zealand Limited

WSP Opus

The Order of St John

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Trade

Ministry of Transport

Tourism New Zealand

Hastings District Council

New Zealand Police

New Zealand Transport Agency

George Weston Foods

Massey University

Downer

Vero Liability

Inland Revenue Department

Greater Wellington Regional Council

CentrePort

Linfox Logistics

Work highlights

  • Advised the New Zealand Labour Party, which is currently the sole party in Government on the process it followed in an internal investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment.
  • Representing Airways in the Employment Court in its defence of an interim reinstatement application brought in the Employment Relations Authority by an Air Traffic Controller against Airways regarding the termination of his employment for failing a drug test. We also assisted Airways in its successful defence of the application in the Employment Relations Authority.
  • Representing WorkSafe, New Zealand’s primary health and safety regulator, in a major employment claim by a former employee who was made redundant. He has made extensive complaints about his redundancy (as part of an unjustified dismissal claim), and about the bullying he alleges was behind it. WorkSafe denies all of his claims.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand’s employment lawyers are ‘experts in their field’ and is led by Laura Scampion, who is ‘reassuring, articulate and effective’ in her advisory on major outsourcing projects, significant restructures, multiple executive terminations and health and safety audits/advice. UK and New Zealand qualified, she also represents employers in significant disputes before the Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court and High Court. Senior associate Julia MacGibbon also plays a central role in the team.

Practice head(s):

Laura Scampion

Other key lawyers:

Julia MacGibbon

Testimonials

‘The DLA Piper labour and employment team us very fast-paced at getting up to speed and being able to advice on trends, latest legislative changes and bills going through parliament. It is commercially savvy, providing advice that gives good options for a commercial business to allow us to make informed risk-based decisions. It is pragmatic, providing advice that is sensible for your specific business – because they take the time to get to know how your business runs – and that is easy to understand and interpret into action. They are technically great and have have deep expertise and give great comfort at their breadth of knowledge across all employment areas of expertise. They are also easy to deal with – friendly, down to earth but professional.’

‘Laura Scampion and her team are commercially savvy, pragmatic, easy to deal with and technically great, and they deliver speedy advice.’

‘The key strengths of the team are its international presence and contacts, which enable a global perspective, its pragmatic approach and the ability to share the doing as needed by the relevant in-house team, as well as its proactivity.’

Key clients

Fonterra

Pfizer New Zealand

Allianz

IAG

Heartland Bank

Mondelez (Cadbury)

The Warehouse Group

AIA

Verizon Wireless

Foodstuffs North Island Limited

KPMG

Zara

PB Technologies

Auckland Council (and its Council Controlled Organisation)

Panasonic Avionics

Work highlights

  • Advised Weta Digital Ltd on a formal and full-scale Review in relation to its workplace culture against the background of widespread and public bullying and harassment allegations.
  • Advised Discovery (UK) on all employment aspects relating to its acquisition of Media Works (NZ) which covered a workforce of approximately 400-500 workers.
  • Acted for GlaxoSmithKline in defence of a claim by a former employee in the Employment Relations Authority for unjustified dismissal, and unjustified disadvantage.

Duncan Cotterill

Duncan Cotterill ‘is quick to get onto matters and try to resolve them as economically and efficiently as possible’. The practice specialises in all aspects of employment and related disputes, health and safety and immigration, bolstered by the arrival of Nicola Tiffen from Anthony Harper. In Auckland, UK and New Zealand qualified Jessie Lapthorne represented Corelogic in defending a claim for unjustified dismissal in the Employment Relations Authority, and also successfully defended the challenge of that decision in the Employment Court, and the application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. In another significant mandate, Kirsty McDonald led the United Fire Brigades’ Association’s independent inquiry into multiple complaints of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault, which was ultimately terminated. Mark Lowler has developed an expertise in transport, IT, manufacturing, FMCG, retail and fitness/recreation sectors. In Christchurch, Sarah Townsend and Scott Wilson are the main figures.

Testimonials

‘The team is clear and concise in its communication. Responses are always timely. Everyone is approachable and happy to assist with any queries.’

‘Jessie Lapthorne is fantastic to deal with. She is very approachable, pragmatic, and incredibly knowledgeable.’

‘It is a great practice to deal with. Their size means that you get a sense of family and community, but they’re large enough to have great networks and expertise. The firm focuses on building strong relationships with their clients, and is passionate about what it does.’

‘I work closely with Jessie Lapthorne. Her standout characteristics from my perspective are both her commercial, pragmatic approach to advising her clients and her approachability. Jessie is always available to discuss aspects of work she is doing for us and provides guidance that is commercial and sensible. She relates well at all levels and I always trust that she’ll represented our organisation in way that aligns with our values.’

‘Mark Lawlor is leading in his grasp of advising strategically and getting into the granular of our company’s matters and needs.’

‘I’ve worked with the employment team at Duncan Cotterill across three companies now and they have always taken the time to understand our business and the challenges that we face. They are also very proactive in providing details of new legislation that is passed and what this means for our organisation. I also found the webinars that this team provided during the Covid-19 pandemic were hugely valuable, including important content and were delivered well.’

‘Having worked directly with Kirsty McDonald for a number of years, she has been a great support to me particularly in areas that I didn’t previously have experience in and I particularly value her and her team’s ability to respond to requests in a timely manner. In addition, Kirsty is great at balancing business requirements with legal risk and being clear to the business around what this means. Having worked in a number of sole or small team roles, I’ve found her support invaluable.’

‘The firm has great depth in workplace health and safety skills and experience. Olivia Lund is clear, approachable and practical.’

‘The quality of the relationships became evident as between Duncan Cotterill and other stakeholders during the recent Covid-19 event. They organised a series of online webinars to answer questions and deliver up to date advice in the area of employment relationships and health & safety implications – this was incredibly impressive and useful.’

‘Olivia Lund has an incredible handle on all the aspects of employment law, labour laws and health & safety. The best way to illustrate her skill is to advise that following a recent Health & Safety prosecution that we were involved in our client contacted Olivia to engage her privately for further advice. The advice was in a complicated area around the roles of third party advisers – Olivia was sensible in her approach and considered in how this would play out.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has a strong employment law team that is really knowledgeable about this specialist area and are always keen to assist with employment law claims.’

‘Kirsty McDonald is very knowledgeable and also very approachable. She is always quick to get back to me when I have any queries.’

‘They really pull together as a team, and work at all levels depending on issue. As I have multiple contacts, dependent on the issue I feel that I am covered no matter what is going on. The team is very responsive even though I imagine there is always a lot going on!’

‘The individuals I work with are genuinely great down to earth people! No question is a stupid question and I am always able to learn from them. The advice is practical and up to date. Jessie Lapthorne is a great leader, the team responds and works together, the team obviously respect her.’

‘Having a long-term established relationship with Duncan Cotterill ensures they have an understanding of our organisation’s culture and values and can therefore, tailor advice in a way that will address those characteristics and qualities we wish to uphold. The vast experience of the team also ensures up to date and accurate advice based not only on entrenched legislative requirements, but also recent case law.’

‘The individuals we deal with understand our company and our history when it comes to decision-making and approach to situations that arise from time to time. This ensures we receive quality advice at pace. There is no need or attempt to draw out the time spent supporting us to the best outcomes for all involved. The experience of the team and individuals we deal with it also second to none.’

‘The team were timely, engaging and did what they said they were going to do. My judgement is there are very good planning processes behind the scenes.’

‘Olivia Lund was the person who I had most contact with. I found Olivia different from other lawyers where she was decisive and very clear of her views, actions and next steps. It gave our side confidence to work with her, sometimes in difficult situations.’

‘I’d have no hesitation in recommending Olivia Lund and Duncan Cotterill in the areas of work and safety.’

‘We find Duncan Cotterill to be responsive and supportive. They take the time to understand the uniqueness of our business and the way we operate, including our core values and people strategies. They work collaboratively within their practice so the knowledge of many can contribute to the advice they give us. We appreciate the care they take to ensure we are aware of risks and the careful advice they give us to mitigate those risks within a framework that fits our organisation.’

‘The team has great depth of knowledge in their area of expertise. They are hands on and adept at managing difficult issues. All the team have solid litigation experience which provides added value to clients – they won’t palm the client off to a barrister – the team will back the advice all the way through the courts. The team has international experience which also helps Duncan Cotterill provide relevant context to advice when dealing with international clients. The team is probably one of the larger teams in the country. They always provide a prompt and effective service at the right price and the advice is always right. They are my number one NZ firm of choice when it comes to employment law advice in NZ.’

‘Mark Lawlor is a sharp and considered lawyer. He has an understated approach which often means his opponents miss the subtle gains he makes in mediation negotiations and court processes. Jessie Lapthorne is a talented litigator with strong experience in safety work. She isn’t backward in engaging with the opposition about her clients case but at the same time does so without compromising professionalism or the clients case. Jessie is very well respected by the Tribunal members and judges she appears before.’

‘Duncan Cotterill has a talented number of lawyers and the firm is approachable, reliable, efficient, pleasant to deal with, knowledgeable and across the latest developments in cases and legislation changes/updates. The firm is very experienced in the insurance space and also one of our main “go to” firms for employment practices liability claims. 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 Jessie Lapthorne on a number of employment practices liability cases and health & safety prosecution cases. I have found Jessie’s advice to be pragmatic, commercial and relevant which has been appreciated. She is very talented with a wealth of knowledge in this area and is an excellent communicator and is approachable also.’

‘Olivia Lund is fantastic. She is great in the health & safety space. She works well with the customers, is great on indemnity and her outcomes are good.’

‘Olivia Lund is a wonderful lawyer – she is bright and very easy to work with. Her understanding of new developments and the implications of legislative changes or legal developments is impressive. She builds strong relationships amongst stakeholders to further enhance any educational initiatives she spearheads.’

‘Scott Wilson is a leader in the health & safety space. We utilise him for the really serious matters as we know he will provide a calmness needed in these tense situations plus he knows the law in detail and what is important to do and say each step of the way. Scott is a quiet achiever – he secures many results that others would not.’

‘Olivia Lund is a standout partner at Duncan Cotterill. Olivia assisted one of our customers through a tough and as always lengthy health and safety prosecution and ultimately achieved an excellent result. She is professional, yet very personable and down to earth.’

‘Olivia Lund – what makes my job easier is being able to pass a matter to someone who makes sure that everything is done correctly and is under control. Olivia is definitely that person for me. She takes hold of a matter, points out alternative strategies in dealing with it – she has a great “think outside the box” approach – and is readily available to take queries and discuss issues.’

‘Kirsty McDonald is always so calm and collected in her approach to dealing with issues that arise, which fosters confidence in her ability to deal with the more comprehensive and complex matters we deal with. We rely on Kirsty’s extensive knowledge to discuss current and potential matters. She has had some exceptional outcomes on matters dealt with for our business.’

‘The team has been a trusted legal adviser to us.’

Key clients

Farmlands Co-Operative Limited

Synlait Milk Limited

Lincoln University

Ravensdown Limited

Enterprise Recruitment Limited

Smiths City

Virgin Australia Airlines

Cathay Pacific

Work highlights

  • Represented Smoke Control New Zealand Ltd in a health and safety matter, the first prosecution of a director under the HSWA brought by WorkSafe, the governing body.
  • Instructed by a Regional Council’s insurer to act in the defence of charges brought by Worksafe alleging a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 following the death of a rubbish collector on a Council sub-contracted vehicle.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry’s practice is spearheaded by Jim Roberts , who is a recognised figure in the employment space. Experienced in all areas of employment law, he regularly assists Trans-Tasman clients from a wide range of sectors to develop and implement their employment strategies, which include collective bargaining, personal grievance processes, disputes, human rights and health and safety. Alison Maelzer  is another key figure, advising on contentious and non contentious employment aspects.

Practice head(s):

Jim Roberts; Alison Maelzer

Other key lawyers:

Jodi Sharman; Sam Houliston

Key clients

Suncorp NZ Employees Limited

Metropolitan Glass & Glazing Limited

Corrections Association of New Zealand

Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Limited

Chubb Insurance NZ Limited

Ricoh New Zealand Limited

Thermo Fisher Scientific New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented MetroGlass & Glazing Ltd in the Employment Relations Authority in a matter involving the enforcement of a restraint of trade clause in its employment agreement with a former employee.
  • Providing regular employment advice across the Suncorp business in New Zealand that ranges from individual issues, division or team issues, and union issues. Suncorp is part of Suncorp Group, a leading general insurance, banking, life insurance and superannuation business with brands in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Corrections Association of New Zealand is a union representing over 3,000 primarily frontline employees who work in prisons, including those run by the Department of Corrections. Provides ongoing support and advice to CANZ on a range of complex employment relations and compliance matters, as well as assisting and representing CANZ’s members.

Kiely Thompson Caisley

As one of New Zealand’s only employment litigation boutiques, Kiely Thompson Caisley has extensive experience in the Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Named partner Peter Kiely is one of the most recognisable figures in the market with over thirty years’ experience in employment and industrial law, while Andrew Caisley is involved in a number of collective bargaining negotiations. David France is an experienced litigator with a good track record of acting for employers in the public sector, education, retail and manufacturing. Simon Lapthorne is recommended for restraint of trade disputes, performance management, restructuring and redundancies.

Testimonials

‘An insightful and knowledgeable firm that provides a good alternative to the full-service firms.’

‘Peter Kiely is a wise and experienced character with a great understanding of what is needed to resolve an employment dispute.’

Key clients

ABB Limited

Air New Zealand

Assignment Group

Bancorp Corporate Finance Ltd

BMW Group

Brand Developers Ltd

Bunnings Ltd

Carbine Agnivest Corporation

Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited

COSCO Shipping Lines (New Zealand) Limited

Consult Recruitment Limited

Foodstuffs North Island Ltd

Franklin Smith Limited

Fullers Group Ltd

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Limited

Hapag Lloyd (New Zealand) Ltd

Ideal Electrical Suppliers

J P Morgan Chase Bank

Mars Petcare New Zealand

Mercury NZ Ltd

Neurological Foundation

NZ Bus Ltd

Oji Fibre Solutions (NZ) Ltd

Radius Residential Care Ltd

Sealord Group Ltd

SIG -Whakatane Mill Ltd

SkyBus NZ Limited

Specsavers New Zealand Limited

Spirax Sarco Ltd – New Zealand

Sylvia Park Food Barn Ltd

The Cosmetic Clinic Sylvia Park NZ Limited

The Order of St John

University of Waikato

WPP AUNZ Limited

Yamaha Motor New Zealand Ltd

Work highlights

  • Appeared for Business New Zealand as intervenor for a significant case advocating for business group interests in relation to the measures taken by the New Zealand Government and employers due to the impact COVID-19 and Government wage subsidies.
  • Acted for Air New Zealand in a contractual interpretation dispute regarding different collective agreements and redundancy.  Successful in allowing Air New Zealand to continue its consultation process for redundancy in the face of COVID-19.
  • Appeared for an employee whose employment had been terminated by way of a contestable redundancy process. Established that our client had been unjustifiably dismissed and were successful in seeking an order of reinstatement.

Lane Neave

Lane Neave advises employers from various sectors on the full gamut of litigious and non-litigious matters employment law, health & safety, ACC and HR issues. Andrew Shaw in Christchurch and Auckland based Fiona McMillan co-head the department, specialising in employment disputes and employment relations and corporate support, respectively. Shaw has a good relationship with the New Zealand Law Society and receives referrals for vulnerable claimants, while McMillan regularly undertakes independent external investigations on behalf of employers.  Having practiced in the UK, special counsel Gwen Drewitt in Christchurch, is well placed to advise international clients on their employment law obligations. In the same office, special counsel Maria Green assists McMillan in employment relations.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Shaw

Other key lawyers:

Fiona McMillan; Gwen Drewitt

Testimonials

‘Over the years we have been well served by Lane Neave in all aspects of employment law.’

‘As well as being there when we have specific issues, the team also proactively communicates and runs seminars throughout the year for relevant and topical areas.’

‘I always find the team at Lane Neave goes out of its way to understand what we as a business are trying to achieve and to deliver pragmatic advice that sets out options and risks. I believe that we have developed a relationship that allows them to temper my stubbornness and ultimately deliver the right response for the business. Special mention goes to Andrew Shaw who oversees the team and of late our interactions with special counsel Gwen Drewitt, specifically around the myriad of issues generated through the Covid-19 effects on business.’

Key clients

Super Liquor Holdings Limited

ANZCO Foods Limited

Ritchies Transport Limited

Waitemata District Health Board

Department of Corrections

Gore District Council

Lyttelton Port Company Limited

Bus and Coach Association New Zealand (Inc)

Competenz

Southern Response New Zealand Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Accor Hotels on significant restructures of hotels across New Zealand, during the COVID-19 lockdown period and beyond.
  • Acting for Williams Corporation Limited with respect to claims of aiding and abetting the breach of employment agreements being pursued by Du Val Property Management. Successful in defending the claim at the interim stage.
  • Acted for Amuri Medical Centre, the employer, in respect of highly contentious proceedings before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), which was asked to determine whether the employee should be reinstated to her role as a General Practitioner within a small, rural community after being made redundant.

Russell McVeagh

Kylie Dunn leads the Auckland based employment practice of Russell McVeagh where she advises employers on a wide range of industrial issues, restraints of trade, redundancies, personal grievances and professional misconduct. She also advises on health and safety liability, working alongside Malcolm Crotty, who is a go-to defence counsel for employers in health and safety prosecutions. Senior associate Emma Peterson is recommended for personal grievance claims and other litigation, as well as restructuring work and the drafting of employment agreements. Special counsel Mark Campbell in Wellington is also noted for all employment law work.

Practice head(s):

Kylie Dunn

Other key lawyers:

Emma Peterson

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Norske Skog Tasman Limited

Sanford Limited

SKYCITY Entertainment Group

Skyline Management Ltd

StraitNZ Ltd

T&G Global Limited

Tasman Cargo Airlines Pty Ltd

Woolworths Limited (General Distributors Ltd; Progressive Enterprises Ltd)

Visionstream NZ Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Uber New Zealand in relation to a status claim brought by a driver who alleged that he was employed by Uber (rather than being engaged as an independent contractor), and should therefore be entitled to minimum entitlements and protection against unjustified dismissal. We were successful for Uber, with drivers determined to be independent contractors (not employees). This was the first time that the Employment Court in New Zealand considered the status (and rights) of individuals working in the gig economy.
  • Advising SkyCity Entertainment Group on Covid-19 related employment law issues, which includes application for the government wage subsidy, two large scale redundancy processes (affecting a third of the workforce) and subsequent personal grievances.
  • Representing Post Primary Teachers’ Association in relation to a pay equity claim lodged by part time teachers regarding non- contact time. This is a claim that part time teachers are not entitled to pro rata non-contact time because they are disproportionately female when compared to full time teachers, and this disparity is due to gender differences and historical inequities in payment.

SBM Legal

Employment boutique SBM Legal supports large corporations, specialist unions, senior executives and individuals, bringing ‘a highly pragmatic and skilful approach’ to all facets of employment law, with an emphasis in health, education and sports. The practice has seen a growth of instruction in workplace investigations, which are led by Bridget Smith  and Penny Swarbrick. Recently, Swarbrick and Anthony Russell  advised various employers, among them, District Health Boards, McDonalds Restaurants (NZ) and NZ Cricket, on employment issues in connection with Covid-19, including impact of the wage subsidy on employment obligations, application of redundancy principles and - terms and conditions of employment of staff in Managed Isolation Facilities. Matthew McGoldrick is recommended for disputes.

Practice head(s):

Bridget Smith

Other key lawyers:

Penny Swarbrick; Matthew McGoldrick

Key clients

Waikato District Health Board

City Rail Link Ltd

Rightway Limited

Car Haulaways Ltd

Kiwi Rail Ltd

McDonalds Restaurants (NZ) Ltd

Farmers Trading Company Limited

Tamaki Health Ltd

AUT University

Downer New Zealand Ltd

H&M Hennes & Mauritz New Zealand

Waitemata District Health Board

Work highlights

  • Advised KiwiRail on interpretation of a retirement clause in a Collective Agreement – what the applicable principles of contractual interpretation were and how should they be applied to this clause.
  • Acting for employer in an Employment Court appeal involving non-publication orders arising out of sexual harassment claims.
  • Representing the former Managing Director of Fuji Xerox New Zealand who is being sued for approximately NZ$83 million. The case involves in part a negligence claim against former employees arising out of their roles as employees, and in relation to alleged inappropriate accounting practices adopted by the company, including the actions of its auditor.

Anderson Lloyd

Though based in Dunedin Anderson Lloyd is expanding its national reach and capability in South Island with the February 2021 recruitment of employment partner Ashley-Jayne Lodge and her associate, Jack Brown, based in Christchurch, who joined from a local labour boutique, Cavell Leitch Pringle & Boyle. Lodge complements the employment practice with expertise in health and safety law, and often acts for employer insurers on employment and privacy matters and conducts workplace investigations. In Dunedin, John Farrow’s practice covers the full range of employment matters, including those which involve criminal and civil aspects. The firm has strong links with local government, health and educational sector clients.

Practice head(s):

John Farrow

Testimonials

‘They work as a team and are true partners to our organisation. I can contact anyone of the team and have confidence that they have knowledge about our context, complexities and challenges and that they will work together to ensure we get the best answer and possible solution to our concerns.’

‘I value the way John Farrow works with and leads his team of employment law experts. I find senior solicitor Jessica Frame, associate James Cowan and senior associate Fiona McMillan to be responsive and I can have confidence in the advice that they provide to us.’

‘John Farrow is pragmatic and sensible. He provides the leadership and direction to the team without being prescriptive allowing them to forge their own relationship with us their client.’

‘Fiona McMillan has gone over and above on many occasions on a very complex case with us and provided clear advise and direction. My HR team appreciates the engagement and support they’ve had from Jessica Frame as well as James Cowan in challenging cases.’

‘The team at Anderson Lloyd is experienced, expert, efficient and effective. They respond quickly to clients and take a pragmatic approach when dealing with sometimes complex employment issues.’

‘John Farrow is someone I admire a lot. I have dealt with him on both sides of disputes and he always acts in the best interests of his clients. His pragmatic approach and ability to find innovative solutions have helped us on a number of occasions.’

‘The firm has excellent communicators who respond swiftly and with great detail and advice’.

‘Intelligent , experienced and well-resourced to get things done quickly and accurately.’

‘The firm has a very capable team, very well led by John Farrow, that provides practical solutions.’

‘We have built a good relationship with our AL team and work well together. We are developing a whole of business approach which allows us to consider impacts on people when working on property and commercial issues and vice versa. Our AL employment team contribute to strategy and are invited to challenge our thoughts on business strategy. We have good chemistry with them.’

‘Our first point of contact for employment related issues is John Farrow. We communicate well and trust each other. We have a shared view on doing what is right and making sure we understand our options. Respect for each others abilities allows us to explore alternative solutions.’

‘I enjoy working with John Farrow and his associate Malcolm Couling who is equally capable and again has taken the time to learn our business. We are able to explore solutions that work best for the business and hear each others point of view. I have found their combined flexible approach to lead to agreed solutions that represent a good cultural fit for our business.’

Key clients

Otago Polytechnic

Oceana Gold (New Zealand) Limited

Alliance Group Limited

Southern District Health Board

Tetra Pak (New Zealand) Limited

ANZCO Foods Limited

Pact Group

Knox College and Salmond Hall

Port Otago Limited

Dunedin City Council

Dunedin Venues Management Limited

Presbyterian Support Otago Incorporated

Night ‘N Day Foodstores Limited

Otago University

Allied Press Limited

Wells Instrument and Electrical Services Limited

Delta Utilities

Aurora Energy

AgResearch Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised CORE Education Ltd on and implemented a full organisation restructure involving 100+ employees across multiple regional offices.
  • Acted for the University of Otago in relation to a complex claim under the Privacy Act in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
  • Acted for Otago Polytechnic in successfully arguing for New Zealand’s first ever court-ordered enforceable undertaking ordered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 as an alternative to a $240,000 fine.

EY Law Limited

Auckland based EY Law Limited utilises its global networks to provide integrated employment and health and safety advice for corporates, ranging from global restructures and business acquisitions, wage accuracy compliance, employee incentives and health and safety. Though primarily a tax partner, Tori Sullivan supports clients in employment aspects of corporate transactions and dispute resolution. Senior associate Kieron Creagh is also noted for contentious employment relations and health and safety matters.

Practice head(s):

Tori Sullivan

Other key lawyers:

Kieron Creagh

Work highlights

Jennifer Mills & Associates

Jennifer Mills & Associates is a boutique employment and health and safety law practice based in Auckland. Though set up in 2018, the practice has established itself in the New Zealand market and now counts Ports of Auckland, DHL Global Forwarding, Wharekauhau Country Estate and Weight Watchers among its clients. Founding partner Jennifer Mills has a wealth of experience in employment litigation, industrial relations, complex restructures, Holidays Act issues and executive exits. Senior associate Ethelred Chey is qualified in Human Resource Management and often works with managers, HR and payroll in their day-to-day activities.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Mills

Other key lawyers:

Ethelred Chey

Testimonials

‘Jennifer and her team have a no nonsense approach to dealing with matters. They give every possible option and go to great lengths to ensure the decision is unquestionable.’

‘I work mostly with Jennifer Mills. I really like that she is always available to me any my team. She works through things with us as collaborator. We actually consider her to be a part of our team.’

‘The firm is highly specialised in employment and labour law. The principal, Jennifer Mills, is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading practitioners in this area and is regularly briefed by large corporates. She is therefore seen as having considerable experience and knowledge of the business world and is therefore very suitable for dealing with major disputes by large companies. She is also known to be in the forefront of advising on health and safety issues, which is an area that new legislation in 2015 has led to an increased need for expert advice. I would expect that the same will be true of employment issues arising out of the Covid-19 situation.’

‘Jennifer Mills is the founding partner of her firm. Previously, for many years, she was the lead employment law partner in one of the top 5 New Zealand law firms and her practice is, therefore, based on genuine experience in the area over a lengthy period of time. She is efficient, personable and has good judgment, which are the characteristics that corporate clients in particular value.’

‘What makes this firm special is Jennifer Mills and her ability to provide practical, pragmatic advice tailored to the unique challenges of the business. Many law firms will give you a simple textbook answer or simply explain the legislation, and are often reticent to provide you with an opinion and risk assessment.’

‘Jennifer Mills has a depth of knowledge, is always accessible, gives sound advice and counsel and her management of the team is exceptional.’

‘Focused on employment law, experienced and knowledgeable of current legislation. Available and quick turnaround of advice.’

‘Jennifer Mills is very knowledgeable, friendly and available. She is in touch with current legislation. I trust her advice.’

Key clients

Ports of Auckland

Plumbing World

United Industries

Robertson Lodges

Foley Wines

CSR Building Products

DHL Global Forwarding

Pascoes

JBWere

Mercy Hospice

Nourish Group

Seyfarth Shaw

Sharp Corporation

Weight Watchers

Wharekauhau Country Estate

DHL Supply Chain

Skybus NZ Limited

Stewart Dawsons

Panamex Group

Sisters of Mercy

Work highlights

  • Provides all employment law advice to Ports of Auckland, including all litigation, strategic and tactical legal advice during its collective bargaining with the Maritime Union of New Zealand, as well as advice on health and safety matters.
  • Provides local legal advice to Seyfarth Shaw’s International Employment Law clients who operate in New Zealand. Notably, this includes the likes of Axios, Autodesk, Danaher, Tanium and Telstra. Work includes providing compliance advice to multi-national companies; reviewing, international HR policies, practices and agreements; advising on privacy and human rights obligations during recruitment and employment; and assisting in due diligence during business acquisitions.
  • Acted for North Tugz Limited in a test case initiated by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, while the parties were engaged in bargaining for a collective agreement. This test case relates to the recent legislative provisions which constrain the use of ‘availability provisions’.

Wynn Williams

Wynn Williams has an established national presence with a practice in Auckland, led by Anthony Drake  and in Christchurch, headed by Amanda Douglas . Drake has been active advising employers on Covid-19 restructuring (including negotiating with unions) and employers on business transfer issues, while Douglas is sought out for resolving disputes primarily with negotiation and mediation. The firm is recommended on employment aspects of large restructures and M&A transactions, and it additionally acts for both employers and employees on personal grievances, bullying, disciplinary investigations and serious misconduct.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Douglas; Anthony Drake

Testimonials

‘Amanda Douglas is thoroughly professional and highly knowledgeable. She has a charming but robust style that fits any setting and is very effective in rebutting opposing arguments.’

‘The firm has extensive experience, knowledge and understanding of employee issues. It has the ability to develop an in-depth knowledge of the business and individual cases, and the ability to get to the heart of complex issues quickly and effectively.’

‘Amanda Douglas and her team are incredibly professional. Their teams have a wealth of knowledge in their field, they understand our business needs and work with us to achieve successful outcomes.’

‘Amanda Douglas and her team are brilliant. Amanda is incredibly knowledgable and always gives sound advice and reasoning for it. Amanda understands our business and director and knows his preferred way of progressing. Amanda is only ever a phone call away, is professional and one of the best lawyers I have dealt with.’

‘I have found the offer to be quite personalised as opposed to dealing with a faceless corporate. Access to senior partners as well as their support team is straightforward. The communication process is focused on delivering to a milestone that has been agreed. The team is also highly competent and want to understand our business rather than fit us into a “cookie cutter” solution.’

‘Personable, experienced, very accessible. Very pragmatic and unemotional with a real interest in providing solutions that worked in the COVID environment. At the time, employment law was being tested given the fast-paced COVID environment and the team delivered solutions that managed our risk perfectly. Amanda Douglas was always available to sit in with conference calls and offer advice and strategies. Her assistant Sophie Carter was involved with our work and clearly took a briefing from Amanda and delivered solutions for us that worked. We reduced our staff levels by one third without any issues.’

Key clients

Electric Kiwi Limited

James Craw Limited t/a JCL Asphalt

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited

Fit for Duty Limited

DFS New Zealand Limited

Orora Limited

Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand Limited

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand

Marie-Claire Bidois

Hall’s Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Supported NEP in dealing with employee transfer and other employee matters in NEP’s purchase of Outside Broadcasting Services from Sky Television.
  • Acted for AIG |Insured: a charitable trust on three personal grievances arising out of a complex investigation process and spearheaded a disciplinary process against an employee, requiring complex strategic advice and advocacy skills.
  • Acted for HiFX in dismissing three employees following an investigation into irregularities with those employees’ activities. It then successfully dealt with resulting personal grievances and defended injunctive relief sought, while dealing with complexities of financial services legislation.