Sean is an experienced commercial litigation lawyer whose expertise spans a broad range of commercial and contract disputes. He has a leading reputation for both his litigation and general advisory practice relating to receivership and insolvency law, security enforcement, restructuring and corporate recovery.
As a leading insolvency and restructuring lawyer, Sean advises secured and unsecured creditors, lending syndicates, insolvency practitioners, corporates, boards, and other stakeholders, and regularly acts for banks and all major insolvency advisory firms. He is often called upon to advise on directors’ duties, provide front end structuring and insolvency advice, security reviews and general commercial advice.
Sean’s general commercial litigation practice spans property, shareholder, contracts, cross-border, trusts and product liability disputes as well as security enforcement, banking litigation, creditors remedies, freezing orders, and other emergency relief.
A highly regarded advocate, Sean has appeared as counsel at all levels of the court system and before various arbitral and other tribunals. He has completed the Oxford Programme of Negotiation and regularly engages in mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Named in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific’s Hall of Fame for restructuring and insolvency, Sean’s expertise is also recognised by other major legal directories, including Chambers Asia-Pacific. He has acted on many significant restructuring and insolvency transactions, including Central North Island Forest Partnership, Crafar Farms, Kawarau Falls, Reef Shipping, Solid Energy, Yarrows Bakers, Torchlight LP, Wynyard Group, Dick Smith, CBL Insurance, and Sacred Hill Vineyards. He was sought after to advise on New Zealand’s COVID-19 relief package for directors and businesses facing potential insolvency due to the global pandemic.
Methodical and well-researched, Sean is a reliable and trusted adviser. His clients value his extensive experience, describing him as "a seasoned campaigner with a good breadth of knowledge and a very measured approach". He is also "pragmatic and approachable. You can run things by him before making a decision" - Chambers Asia-Pacific 2021. Sean is often praised for his responsiveness, with one client noting "he is always contactable and provides sound commercial advice" - Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022.
Sean presents widely on insolvency related topics. He also authors the New Zealand chapter on cross-border insolvency and the UNCITRAL Model Law in Cross-Border Insolvency, a text by Globe Law & Business comparing the application of the Model Law in various jurisdictions.
Acting for a major bank in relation to its appointment of both receivers and administrators to the Sacred Hill Vineyards group of companies and the subsequent receivership, including various High Court challenges to the sale process and actions taken by the administrators.
Acting for a major bank in obtaining an urgent worldwide freezing order as a consequence of an alleged substantial fraud perpetrated against the bank, including liaising with Australian counsel on parallel litigation brought by the banking group in Australia.
Advising New Zealand voluntary administrators, and subsequently liquidators, of Dick Smith electronics products retail chain.
Acting for receivers appointed to investment limited partnership, including the investigations into the transfer of assets to a related Caymans entity.
Advising a syndicate of banks in relation to the management of their exposure to a substantial corporate borrower in the primary industries sector.
Advising The Treasury on behalf of the Crown in relation to the Part 14 Companies Act restructuring and subsequent voluntary administration of state-owned enterprise Solid Energy New Zealand.
Acting for receivers appointed to the then largest privately owned dairy farming operation in New Zealand, including in high profile proceedings in the High Court and Court of Appeal regarding competing claims to approximately 6,000 dairy cows.
- Member, Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association New Zealand Inc (RITANZ)
- Member, Banking and Financial Services Law Association
- Member, International Bar Association (IBA)
Achievements and recognition
- Recognised, Restructuring and Insolvency, Chambers Asia-Pacific
- Hall of Fame, Restructuring and Insolvency, The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
- Tier 1 team, Dispute Resolution, The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific
- Highly Regarded, Restructuring and Insolvency, IFLR1000
- Recognised, Insolvency and Reorganisation Law, Best Lawyers