Sarah is a corporate lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience advising clients on public, regulatory and international trade law matters. She is named on NZ Lawyer's Elite Women List 2023.
A specialist in enabling her clients to address the challenges associated with trading goods and services across national borders, Sarah was named Asia Pacific’s International Trade Lawyer of the Year at the Women in Business Law Awards 2023 and is the only lawyer from a major New Zealand law firm recognised for Trade Law by The Best Lawyers™ in New Zealand. She has market-leading expertise in the areas of sanctions, customs and excise law, import and export controls, anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations, anti-bribery and corruption, shipping and maritime law, domestic and overseas market access requirements, bilateral trade and investment agreements, and World Trade Organisation rules and disputes.
Sarah is also a leading provider of public law, regulatory and government relations advice. Her team is ranked Band 1 for Public Law by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2023 and she is personally ranked for Government Practice by the Best Lawyers™ in New Zealand. She specialises in assisting private sector clients with complex, sensitive, and often high-profile public law matters. She helps them to understand legal requirements, conduct due diligence, capitalise on regulatory opportunities, participate effectively in regulatory investigations and public inquiries, present persuasively in disputes with decision-makers, and develop arguments and strategies that secure favourable legislative and policy changes.
Sarah has a deep knowledge of the agriculture and fisheries, food and beverage, transportation, postal and distribution sectors. Her clients include Airwork, Amazon Web Services, Apple, ASB, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Channel Infrastructure, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Fonterra, Lamb Weston, Leidos, Masport, Meta, Pan Pac, Roof TG, Sanitarium, Sealord, UK Department for Trade, Westpac, Windstar, World Bank Group and Zespri.
Prior to returning to New Zealand in 2012, Sarah worked in London, Washington D.C., and Paris for 10 years. Before practising law, she was a regulatory economist and a New Zealand Government official. This multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary experience gives Sarah a unique and valuable perspective on international and complex regulatory matters.
Renowned as a strategic thinker, Sarah has clear vision, strong communication skills, commitment, passion, and integrity. She works to understand her clients’ commercial drivers and provides responsive and tailored advice.
A regular contributor to thought leadership, Sarah has contributed to several books, given many presentations and authored many academic essays and media articles on international trade. She has significant involvement with trade-related boards and organisations. She is a board member of AmCham New Zealand (the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand) and TradeWorks NZ (the New Zealand International Business Forum). A champion for diversity, she is also a member of Trade Experettes, a global organisation dedicated to supporting women’s voices in international trade.
Advising banks, traders, investors, insurers, and freight companies on export controls and sanctions-related matters (and notably those relating to Russia, Iran, China, Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela). Also representing clients in contentious sanctions matters including Banking Ombudsman Scheme disputes, Human Rights Commission mediations, investigations conducted by the United Nations and the New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States governments, and litigation (including representing the Respondent in Targa Capital Limited v Westpac New Zealand Limited  NZHC 230 and the Defendant in New Zealand Customs Service v Pacific Aerospace Ltd  NZDC 5034).
Advising clients on the regulatory requirements applicable to manufacturers, traders and retailers of various food products, forestry products, pharmaceuticals, medicines and medical devices, body scanners, drones, hazardous substances and goods, fuels, IT and radio equipment. Also advising on the regulatory requirements applicable to providers of sea, air and land transportation and freight services. Assisting clients to obtain regulatory approvals and participate in regulatory investigations (and notably Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Food Safety, Environmental Protection Authority and WorkSafe investigations).
Advising traders and trade facilitators on complex customs and excise matters and representing them in contentious cases before the Customs Service, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Environmental Protection Authority. Recently advised a freight forwarder on the potential implications of breaching rules governing the importation of fire extinguishers containing an ozone depleting substance, without the necessary licence. Conducted an internal investigation, drafted a voluntary disclosure to the Customs Service and the Environmental Protection Authority, and settled the matter with the Government without penalty.
Securing favourable law and policy reforms for clients. Secured passage of an Amendment Order permitting hazardous waste exports to the United States. Also provided wide-ranging legal, technical, and strategic advice to a telecommunications company seeking Government approval to participate in the development of New Zealand’s 5G network.
Representing manufacturers, exporters, importers and retailers in more than 20 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations conducted by the New Zealand, European Union, and United States governments. Also advising clients on related judicial review proceedings. Most recently assisted Lamb Weston and Lamb Weston Meijer to secure the successful termination of New Zealand’s dumping investigation into frozen potato fries and wedges from Belgium and the Netherlands and Roof Tile Group to secure the temporary suspension of anti-dumping duties on aluminium–zinc coated steel from the Republic of Korea.
Leading a team of five lawyers providing a dairy company with comprehensive advice relating to the procedural, substantive and reputational aspects of a Ministerial Inquiry into a food safety incident.
Advising the United Kingdom Department for International Trade on the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement negotiations and the UK’s negotiations to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. These ongoing appointments are for three years each and resulted from two separate competitive tender processes.
- Director, AmCham New Zealand
- Board Member, New Zealand International Business Forum
- Member, New Zealand Food & Grocery Council
- Member, Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists
- Member, Customs & International Trade Bar Association
- Member, Law and Economics Association of New Zealand, Inc
- Member, TradeExperettes
- Member, Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)
Achievements and recognition
- Winner, Asia Pacific International Trade Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Awards Asia Pacific, 2023
- Recognised, Elite Women List, NZ Lawyer, 2023
- Recognised, Trade Law, Best Lawyers
- Recognised, Government Practice, Best Lawyers
- Band 1 team, Public Law, Chambers Asia-Pacific
- Finalist, Asia Pacific International Trade Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Awards Asia Pacific, 2020, 2021
- Finalist, Asia Pacific Offshore Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Awards Asia Pacific, 2020
- Finalist, Asia Pacific Shipping and Maritime Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Awards Asia Pacific, 2020, 2021