Michael has extensive experience as both defence counsel and coverage and monitoring counsel of complex claims in financial services, construction, commercial, competition and consumer law. He thrives on understanding complicated problems and expressing their solutions concisely. He has appeared at all levels in New Zealand, including seminal Supreme Court cases on local authority liability, contribution claims, and competition law.

Michael defends professionals, financial institutions, and directors & officers against civil claims, regulatory investigations and regulatory enforcement action.  He also acts as coverage and monitoring counsel on some of the largest and most complex D&O claims and representative actions in New Zealand.  Alongside his coverage and defence work, Michael drafts and advises clients on policy wording across all Financial Lines products for local and international clients.

He keenly follows legislative, regulatory and common law developments – particularly in D&O, professional liability, and representative actions.  He has delivered many seminars and classes to underwriting, claims and broking teams.

Michael is admitted in New Zealand and New South Wales.

Directors & Officers

  • Defending directors of a transport company against shareholder claims and a proposed derivative action for breaches of directors’ duties relating to the company’s response to COVID-19 and consequent financial pressures: Roe & Ors v Wellington Combined Taxis Limited.
  • Defending a director against allegations of information-based market manipulation under the Securities Market Act (SMA) and Financial Markets Conduct Act (FMCA): Financial Markets Authority v Hill.
  • Defending a real estate agency and its director against claims of cartel behaviour under the Commerce Act, resulting in the seminal Supreme Court decision on the requirements for arrangements or understanding and for price fixing: Lodge Real Estate Ltd v Commerce Commission [2020] 1 NZLR 238 (SC).
  • Defending directors of a construction company, following the company’s collapse, from liquidators’ allegations of reckless trading in breach of directors’ duties, coupled with a creditor’s direct claim of misleading representations under the Fair Trading Act.
  • Variously advising New Zealand, Australian and London insurers on cover for and associating with defending claims against directors and officers, including representative actions against dual-listed companies on their IPOs and ongoing disclosure obligations, derivative actions and shareholder disputes in privately held companies and joint venture enterprises, investigations by the Financial Markets Authority and by the Serious Fraud Office.

Financial Institutions

  • Defending a retail bank against claims of discrimination, breach of contract, and negligence relating to its AML/CFT Act obligations: Abdollahi v TSB Bank Ltd.
  • Variously advising New Zealand, Australian and London insurers on cover for and associating with defending investigations of and enforcement actions against financial institutions by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Financial Markets Authority, and Commerce Commission, relating to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, SMA, FMCA, AML/CFT Act, Commerce Act, and Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act.

Policy Drafting

  • Advising New Zealand, Australian and London insurers on D&O wording, professional indemnity wording, and statutory liability wording.
  • Advising boards, franchisees and trustees on scope and comparison of current and offered insurance products.
Areas of Expertise
  • Directors + Officers Liability
  • Inquiries, Investigations + Prosecutions
  • Management Liability
  • Professional Liability

Industry Representation
  • Construction + Infrastructure
  • Financial Institutions + Services
  • Property + Real Estate
  • Professions + Business Solutions
  • Regulatory, Compliance + Policy Review

Professional Affiliations
  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association
  • Legal Research Foundation
  • Risk Management Society: New Zealand and Pacific Islands Chapter
  • Australasian Professional Indemnity Group