Firm Profile > Wynn Williams > Christchurch, New Zealand

Wynn Williams
New Zealand

Insurance Tier 2

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

Projects and resources management (including environment) Tier 2

'The firm's administration of complex, multi-party cases and the respect it gets from the Court is the best I have seen', says a client of the resource management and environment practice at Wynn Williams. The firm is a prominent player in resource management, environmental and natural resources matters, particularly in the South Island. The practice is led from Christchurch by Philip Maw and resource management specialist Lucy de Latour. Maw is a recognised advisor of regional councils, with particular expertise in freshwater planning policy development, and clients describe him as 'an excellent presenter and communicator'. Up-and-coming partner Kirstie Wyss is 'approachable and yet very professional' and Michelle Mehlhopt is recommended for district and regional planning, resource consents, enforcement and strategic advice to local authorities. Alongside freshwater management, the firm frequently advises on energy and natural resources matters.

Practice head(s):

Philip Maw; Lucy de Latour

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Mehlhopt; Mike Doesburg; Kirstie Wyss; Kate Woods; Imogen Edwards


“The firm has specialist knowledge and skills in the environmental and property areas, and it provides high quality advice.”

“The team is very down-to-earth without any airs and is really easy to work with.”

“Phil Maw’s advice is always well thought out and he provides considered responses to questions.”

“Imogen Edwards is incredibly organised, always available and I was really impressed with the speed and quality of work.”

“Wynn Williams offers a seamless extension of our business – they work well with others across our business and understand and respond to all of the issues that impact on their advice to us.”

“The team as a whole is exceedingly competent. Philip Maw and Lucy de Latour are unflappable and provide calm, measured advice. They are always available to us and respond well even under tight timeframes.”

“Michelle Mehlhopt has the ability to go deep into the detail but never loses sight of the big picture issues. She is a skilled and talented advocate.”

Key clients

Canterbury Regional Council

Southland Regional Council

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

Otago Regional Council

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Northland Regional Council

Greater Christchurch Partnership

Ports of Auckland Limited

Weston Lea Limited

Reefville Properties Limited

Dispute resolution Tier 3

At Wynn Williams, 'the team is efficient, empathetic, commercially savvy and focused on achieving good results'. Known for the strength of its in-house advocacy skills, the firm handles commercial disputes, contentious trusts and estates, insurance and employment matters. Jeremy Johnson and Anthony Drake in Auckland, along with Joshua Shaw in Christchurch, are the lead partners. Clients describe Johnson as 'intellectually strong with very good emotional intelligence, which helps his client make good decisions in the face of ambiguity'. The recruitment of relationship property partner Andrew Watkins in Christchurch from Duncan Cotterill and construction partner Rebecca Saunders in Auckland from Lane Neave has helped the firm expand the range of its litigation practice.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Johnson; Anthony Drake; Josh Shaw

Other key lawyers:

Shane Campbell; Stephanie Woods; Josh Taylor; Rebecca Saunders; Andrew Watkins


‘Jeremy Johnson prepared extremely well for negotiations and mediations and left a leading QC in the shade. His reasonable and courteous approach was undoubtedly a factor in the successful resolution of the dispute. His strong intellect and street smarts helped navigate some difficult issues. His writing and advocacy skills are first class.’

‘Jeremy Johnson displays tact and courtesy to all involved and has outstanding advocacy skills. He is easily a match for the leading QC in the field and should be recognised as a leading practitioner in trusts and relationship property himself.’

‘Jeremy Johnson is patient, quietly determined and gives his clients a strong feeling that they are in a safe pair of hands. I cannot recommend him highly enough. In terms of overall value for money, his advice was worth every cent.’

‘There is a high level of partner engagement and proactiveness.’

‘Jeremy Johnson has a high level of intelligence overlaid with commercial practicality, and he is very articulate.’

‘Wynn Williams understands our business well and offers advice that takes into account not only the legal issues but also relevant political and practical issues.’

‘The solicitors’ responses are always timely and thorough.’

Key clients

Redwood Group Ltd

John McLaughlin and Andrew McLaughlin

Cullen Group Limited

PLF Services Limited

Colliers International Valuation (CHCH) Limited

PGW Rural Capital Limited

Church Property Trustees

Adam Banks

Guy Shallard

Boss Transport Limited

Labour and employment Tier 3

At Wynn Williams, employment law is handled by the firm's dispute resolution group, though practice heads Amanda Douglas in Christchurch, who 'brings an excellent sense of commercial reality to the table', and Anthony Drake in Auckland focus exclusively on employment and health and safety matters. Douglas focuses on disputes, while Drake has more than 20 years' experience in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious issues including advisory work, dismissals, discrimination, and employment implications for commercial transactions, redundancy, restraint of trade, confidential information, and industrial disputes. One client remarks that 'we found them very effective - not only well versed in the law, but able to advance effective strategies to help us achieve our desired outcomes'.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Douglas; Anthony Drake

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Carter


“Anthony Drake has been my go to employment relations legal counsel for years. I trust him unequivocally. He is a completely seasoned professional and knows ER law inside and out. I have also learned a great deal from working with him.”

“Given his busy schedule, Anthony Drake never seems too busy to respond to queries for assistance and he always responds in a timely manner. I cannot fault the service I have received from him.”

“Amanda Douglas is a standout lawyer. She is able to intuitively see the issue and advance great solutions that balance risk and commercial pragmatism effectively. She is extremely good in face-to-face situations with the other party and knowing how to manage their expectations downwards.”

“The team has strength in depth. Excellent internal communication ensures that our needs are serviced carefully and promptly by a well-briefed team who understand our business. The team is also very responsive and accessible so that advice can be sought quickly. Attention to ongoing matters is thorough and prompt.”

“I value the speed with which the partner who looks after our business has got to grips with our business – the specific business sector, technical requirements, the culture and ongoing issues. She offers pragmatic advice, setting out all of the options and advising thoroughly through the decision making process. I also value the proactive support we receive in keeping our policies, process and employment agreements up-to-date and fit for purpose.”

Key clients

William Rudling

New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups Incorporated

AIG Insurance

Gasser Partner

DFS New Zealand Limited

Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand Limited

Canterbury Regional Council

Paul Kelly Motor Company Limited

BOC Limited

Truck Stops (NZ) Limited

Corporate and M&A Tier 4

'This team gets the balance just right between their approach when dealing with other advisors, applying pragmatism during the dealmaking process and being responsive and knowledgable', says a client of Wynn Williams. 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. In Auckland, the 'smart, commercial and efficient' Ash Hill leads the practice and is 'easy to work with and gets the deal done'. He handles complex M&A transactions for major corporates and private investors including Reddy Group and the Ports of Auckland. Nick Kovacevich has moved to found Couch Harlowe Kovacevich.

Practice head(s):

Ash Hill

Other key lawyers:

Hayley Buckley; Stephen Lowe; Tom Corkill


“Ash Hill is a standout partner with whom we have developed deep trust and commitment. The value he adds is not only legal, but he is also able to understand the commercial rationale and cut to the issue quickly, solving it with pragmatism.”

“Tom Corkill is an associate destined to become a successful partner. He is ahead of his years and confidently navigates a deal process, often negotiating and working with advisors across a wide spectrum of low-to-high seniority with ease. He is becoming my ‘go-to’ more and more.”

“The team is very good hands-on at the partner level and is commercial in its approach to situations.”

“Tom Corkill [is] both highly responsive, commercial and offer support above and beyond normal expectations.”

“The firm has a great team of people. Nothing falls through the cracks.”

Key clients

Ports of Auckland

Cardinal Logistics


Electric Kiwi


Smart Environmental

Invivo Wines

Reddy Group

Hall’s Group

Snowball Effect

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
Mr Jeremy Johnson photo Mr Jeremy Johnson Partner
Mr Nick Kovacevich photo Mr Nick Kovacevich 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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