Firm Profile > Wynn Williams > Christchurch, New Zealand

Wynn Williams
New Zealand

Insurance Tier 2

Wynn Williams' litigation group operates out of Auckland and Christchurch, with the latter office fast developing its capability in earthquake and natural disaster related claims, and increasing involvement in the unique insurance issues resulting from the Canterbury earthquakes. The firm operates across all insurance disciplines, including financial lines, fraud, cyber and crime, public (casualty) and statutory liability. The practice has niche expertise advising estate agents and financial advisers on professional indemnity matters. Richard Hern in Auckland and Emily Walton , in Christchurch, are the main contacts.  

Practice head(s):


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key clients

AIG and its insured, a national building inspection company

NZ Brokers / Newline Underwriting

NZI Liability and its insured builder Jeremy Parratt

AIG and its insured Cedenco

AIG and its insured, a firm of accountants

Provident Insurance

AIG and its insured Robyn Bond

AIG and its insured L J Hooker Dunedin

AIG and its insured Cleaver Richards Ltd

Delta and its insured, an architect

Labour and employment Tier 3

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 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

Projects and resources management (including environment) Tier 3

One of the 'strongest environmental and local government' teams Wynn Williams, is the lead legal provider of resource management law to two of New Zealand's three largest regional councils and has a large roster of local government clients. Freshwater planning is a key pillar of its work, though the firm also handles pan reviews, retail projects and residential development. Managing partner Philip Maw and specialist litigator Lucy de Latour lead the practice from Christchurch, where special counsel Michelle Mehlhopt and senior associate Kirstie Wyss are recommended for advice on local government law and freshwater management respectively. The Auckland office has a senior associate, Mike Doesburg, who focuses on environmental litigation.

Practice head(s):


‘Depth at the associate level gives confidence in consistent and practical advice.’

‘Philip Maw continues to impress in terms of professional understanding and status in the profession. Associate Imogen Edwards and senior associates Kate Woods and Kirstie Wyss are all very experienced, and they have the confidence of their local government clients.’

‘I work solely with the environmental and resource management team at Wynn Williams, and receive a very high level of service from them. Legal opinions received from them are robust and turned around in short timeframes if required. For matters that go to court, they make the process as easy as possible and work closely with my team to get the desired outcomes. The RM training that is offered as part of the contract with Wynn Williams is extremely helpful, and is delivered in a concise and easily understandable manner.’

‘The main individual I work with at Wynn Williams is Mike Doesburg. He always makes time to discuss any issues I have, whether it be a complex, specific case, or a smaller issue that crops up in business as usual. Mike’s ability to turn around urgent work quickly makes him very valuable to my team due to the tight timeframes we work with, as does the quality of his work. Legal opinions received from him are accurate and concise. Over the years, Mike has been working with my team, he has taken the time to get to know us and as a result is able to identify and deliver training needs for the whole team with minimal input from me – the ease in which this is done is appreciated and makes Mike stand out as a top provider of legal services.’

‘My team works occasionally with Philip Maw. Philip’s resource management expertise is second to none. Complex matters are dealt with professionally and accurately. Philip also takes the time to check in on how my team is going and gives an impression of informal mentorship in all dealings we have with him – something that I value in his work and a quality which makes him stand out.’

‘Phil Maw is possibly one of the best in NZ and definitely the best in Christchurch.’

Key clients

Canterbury Regional Council

Southland Regional Council

Otago Regional Council

Queenstown Lakes District Council

Northland Regional Council

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Greater Christchurch Partnership

Weston Lea Limited

Reefville Properties Limited

Real estate and construction Tier 3

Wynn Williams joins the ranking primarily on the strength of its construction litigation practice, although the firm also handles front-end matters involving the drafting and negotiation of construction contracts. The practice is led by contentious construction specialist Rebecca Saunders and litigators Anthony Drake in Auckland and, in Christchurch, Joshua Shaw. Senior associate Joshua Taylor is also active in the area. The team's specialist knowledge of construction law combines with the firm's expertise in finance, business structuring, resource management, employment and regulatory compliance, to provide a comprehensive service to its clients.

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

The Fletcher Construction Company

Queenstown Lakes District Council

Amstar New Zealand Limited

Armitage Williams Construction Limited

Tailorspace Property Limited

Nexus Point Limited

Emerald Developments Limited

KME Services NZ Limited

Corporate and M&A Tier 4

'The firm is very commercial, timely and provides excellent client service', says a client of Wynn Williams. Another notes that it is 'able to quickly and flexibly respond to clients needs'. The firm's broad scope of work includes complex acquisitions and divestments in the growth industry areas of honey and food, as well as private equity and venture capital transactions in a range of sectors. Ash Hill leads the practice from Auckland, where Hayley Buckley is known for equity crowdfunding transactions and Stephen Lowe 'delivers practical advice that always takes into account the business objective'.

Practice head(s):


‘The firm is responsive, able to deliver to estimated fees and can cover a wide range of legal issues.’

‘Stephen Lowe is a safe pair of hands willing to invest in the relationship.’

‘Senior associate Kimberley Wong is committed and hardworking. Very capable.’

‘The firm is very commercial, timely and provides excellent client service. It is also strong in detail but understands commercial reality too.’

‘Ash Hill and senior associate Tom Corkill are always approachable, smart and generally all round good guys.’

‘Wynn Williams is a well known NZ commercial firm based in Christchurch. The office in Auckland is relatively new, but is packed with top-performing lawyers. These lawyers are able to quickly and flexibly respond to clients needs directly and able to rely on the full service that exists in Christchurch for back up. Business-savvy results for its clients is assured.’

‘Stephen Lowe is an exceptional lawyer in the NZ M&A market. He delivers practical advice that always takes into account the business objective. He does not over complicate matters and is very accessible. Stephen works well with other counsel, this includes on cross-border deals. We would have no hesitation in recommending Stephen.’

‘High-quality lawyers who execute as good as the traditional best in the market. No insecurity complex with these guys and that confidence is important.’

‘Hayley Buckley, Ash Hill and Stephen Lowe are smart, intelligent operators who do not faff about.’

Key clients

Milford Private Equity


Hall’s Group

Tanarra Credit Partners

Maui Private Equity

Smart Environmental

Reddy Group

Snowball Effect

Invivo Wines

Electric Kiwi


Castlerock Partners

Darby Capital Partners

The firm: Wynn Williams is a full service, national law firm with a team of 95+ lawyers and support staff across offices in Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand.   We provide advice to companies, private individuals and rural clients – as well as local authorities, and overseas investors.  The firm has a global outlook and services clients from all over the world. To support this it has trusted relationships with international law firms to enable the firm to provide a seamless global service to its clients.

Wynn Williams is committed to listening to its clients, leading in its legal work to help clients achieve their goals, and growing its client relationships.

The firm is proud to be one of New Zealand’s oldest law firms – established in 1859. Its long history is a testament to the adaptability, strength and integrity of the firm and its lawyers. Throughout the years, the firm has led New Zealand in the legal profession, providing excellent legal services to its large and varied client base.

Areas of practice
Litigation and dispute resolution: Wynn Williams has one of the strongest dispute resolution teams in the country, with a New Zealand-wide reputation for delivering successful results with integrity and responsibility. If you are faced with a dispute, either in your business or personal life, the team can apply its commercial insight and unrivalled experience to your case. The firm provides expertise in all areas of dispute resolution: commercial and contractual disputes; real estate and leases; contentious trusts and estates; relationship property; care of children and family; employment and health and safety; arbitration; insolvency and credit recovery; professional and product liability; judicial review and public law; intellectual property; Maori; construction.

Insurance: Wynn Williams has for some time been an industry leader in the specialised field of insurance law. The firm’s hallmark is product knowledge. It has been involved in a number of policy revision and re-drafting programmes and commonly advises on coverage questions for all forms of property and liability lines, and reinsurance treaties. The team is regularly instructed to act in: disputes where the insurer has accepted liability and is indemnifying the insured; and disputes where the insurer’s liability is disputed over questions of policy interpretation, scope of coverage and application of exclusions or endorsements arise.

Corporate: the team advises a broad range of corporate clients, banks, financial institutions, boards and individual directors on their corporate governance-related matters which affect them on an ongoing basis. The team also advises on all aspects of their ongoing corporate affairs including company law, corporate governance, disputes with or between shareholders, directors’ duties and compliance. The team can assist with the following: capital raising; mergers and acquisitions; start-ups; and venture capital.

Resource management and environmental law: the team is renowned for managing complex projects, from inception through to appeals. It can assist where legislation or planning documents impact on what you can or cannot do with your land, business, home or resources. The team takes a “whole of client” approach to providing advice, with a particular emphasis on finding practical solutions to achieve identified outcomes. It can assist with the following: planning and consents; property requirements; aquaculture and fisheries; mining, quarrying and aggregate; and air quality.

Commercial property: the commercial property team – which includes in-house resource management specialists – is sought after by individuals, businesses, and large private and public institutions. The team has involvement in all types of commercial property projects; from retail centres and mixed use developments, to large institutional commercial property portfolios and it can assist with the following: industrial property; office property; property development; and retail property.

Restructuring and insolvency: Wynn Williams provides advice to significant national clients in this field. The firm has litigated insolvency cases at the highest levels, including the Privy Council. The team works with large lenders and the Public Trust to advise on and enforce their security position. It also provides advice in relation to complex issues in liquidation and receivership. The team regularly advises on: liquidations and receiverships; the security position of lenders; debt recovery; enforcement of personal property securities; Securities Act and Companies Office investigations.

Department Name Email Telephone
Litigation and dispute resolution / Employment Anthony Drake +64 9 300 2600
Employment and Health & Safety Amanda Douglas +64 3 379 7622
Litigation and dispute resolution Joshua Shaw +64 3 379 7622
Litigation and dispute resolution Jeremy Johnson +64 9 300 2600
Insurance Emily Walton +64 3 379 7622
Insurance Richard Hern +64 9 300 2600
Corporate advisory Hayley Buckley +64 9 300 2600
Corporate advisory Ash Hill +64 9 300 2600
Resource management and environmental law Philip Maw +64 3 379 7622
Resource management and environmental law Lucy de Latour +64 3 379 7622
Photo Name Position Profile
 Phoebe Davies  photo Phoebe Davies Partner
 Amanda Douglas  photo Amanda Douglas Partner
 Philip Maw  photo Philip Maw National Managing Partner
 Charlene Sell  photo Charlene Sell Partner
 Joshua Shaw  photo Joshua Shaw Partner
 Emily Walton  photo Emily Walton Partner
 Andrew Watkins  photo Andrew Watkins Partner specialising in Relationship Property
 Lucy de Latour  photo Lucy de Latour Partner
Number of lawyers : 66
at this office : 23
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