Richard is a highly experienced civil and commercial litigator. He has a broad background in the resolution of commercial disputes, with specialist expertise in banking and securities law and insolvency.
Richard is a trusted adviser to New Zealand’s main trading banks, including ANZ, BNZ, Kiwibank, Rabobank, and The Co-operative Bank. He is also regularly instructed by top-tier insolvency practitioners PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Grant Thornton, and BDO. His clients include major New Zealand corporates and businesses.
An experienced in-Court advocate, Richard has appeared as counsel in numerous defended hearings at all levels of the New Zealand Court system up to the Supreme Court. He also regularly acts as counsel for parties engaged in arbitrations and mediations.
Ranked as a leading insolvency and restructuring lawyer in legal directories Chambers Asia-Pacific and The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, Richard has acted on some of New Zealand’s most significant corporate insolvency cases. He represented the Crown in various disputes arising out of the collapse of South Canterbury Finance and the wider Crown Deposit Guarantee Scheme (including pursuit of recovery of transferred assets from the Hubbard family). He also acted for the receivers appointed to Capital + Merchant Finance.
Banks and finance companies regularly seek Richard’s advice on the practical implications of key legislation such as the Property Law Act, the Personal Property Securities Act, and the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. He is also a leading authority on voidable transaction claims in insolvencies and was successful counsel in three of the most important precedent-setting cases in the area: Timberworld v Levin, Ebert Construction v Sanson, and Shephard v Wakefield Plant.
Beyond insolvency, Richard acts on commercial litigation matters encompassing breach of contract, professional negligence, Fair Trading Act and Companies Act actions, and general property and insurance disputes. Often at the forefront of legal developments, he was successful counsel in the Supreme Court recent defining contract law case, Bathurst Resources v L&M Coal Holdings. He also acted as counsel opposing the first ever private ‘climate change’ proceedings brought in New Zealand.
Being a litigator is about more than arguing the legal issues and Richard prides himself on his excellent communication and ability to build meaningful business relationships with his clients. As one client puts it: “[his] understanding of our business, responsiveness and the outcomes achieved for us make him stand out. In particular Richard’s guidance on some sensitive negotiations has been extremely valuable.” – The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022.
With a reputation for providing pragmatic and results-focused advice, Richard strives to get to the right result efficiently, avoiding protracted litigation where possible. He is described as a “well-connected, well-valued and well-respected lawyer in this industry,” and “clearly one of New Zealand’s leading experts in certain aspects of insolvency law” – Chambers Asia-Pacific 2021.
From 2018 to 2022, Richard sat on the Board of the Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand Inc (RITANZ). He authors the LexisNexis Practical Guidance publications Corporate Insolvency and Personal Insolvency. He also authors the ‘Voidable Transactions’ chapter in the Morison’s Company Law text.
Acting as successful counsel for Bathurst Resources Limited, defending claims for a US$40 million “performance payment” alleged to be due after Bathurst had acquired mining rights previously held by L&M Coal Holdings Limited. In its landmark decision overturning the Court of Appeal and dismissing L&M’s claim, the Supreme Court confirmed the principles of contractual interpretation applying in New Zealand, including when pre-contractual negotiations and post-contractual conduct can be admissible when interpreting a commercial contract.
Acting for Taharoa Ironsands Limited in proceedings against it and Toward Industries (Bluescope Steel) alleging breach of the share sale agreement upon the sale and purchase of a mine.
Acting for BT Mining Limited in defending the first ever private ‘climate change’ proceedings, brought against seven corporate defendants alleging liability owed in negligence and/or public nuisance.
Acting for a significant New Zealand mining company in defending a rectification claim brought in the High Court regarding a contract for the hire of mobile mining equipment.
Successfully striking out a novel claim brought against TAB New Zealand, which had alleged breach of a duty of care owed to the victims of a fraudster who was also a problem gambler.
Representing key insolvency practitioners (PwC, Grant Thornton, Deloitte and BDO) on various disputes arising out of receivership and liquidation appointments. These include competing security claims, the recovery (and resisting the recovery) of insolvent transactions and claims regarding alleged breaches of receivers’ and liquidators’ statutory duties.
Regularly acting for trading banks (ANZ National Bank, Bank of New Zealand, Kiwibank, The Co-Operative Bank (formerly PSIS) and Rabobank) and other financiers on contested enforcement of security matters.
- Member, Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association New Zealand Inc (RITANZ)
Achievements and recognition
- Recognised, Restructuring and Insolvency, Chambers Asia-Pacific
- Recognised, Restructuring and Insolvency, The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
- Tier 1 team, Dispute Resolution, The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
- Tier 1 team, Restructuring and Insolvency, The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
- Highly Regarded, Restructuring and Insolvency, IFLR1000
- Recognised, Insolvency and Restructuring, Doyles Guide