Michael has extensive expertise across financial services, construction, commercial, competition and consumer law, along with judicial review. He thrives on understanding complicated problems and expressing their solutions concisely.

Michael’s early career focused on intellectual property, before moving into civil litigation, where he quickly gained experience in ground-breaking New Zealand Supreme Court decisions. Michael has gone on to advise and represent clients in the Australian Federal Court and the Supreme Courts of New South Wales, Canberra and Victoria.

Michael has successfully defended lawyers, accountants, engineers and real estate agents against claims and disciplinary complaints. He has assisted companies and individuals with Commerce Commission investigations and proceedings. Michael has successfully defended local governments and governmental agencies in judicial review and defended local governments in a variety of negligence claims. He has also advised insurer clients on some of the largest and highest profile claims under D&O, management liability, statutory liability and professional indemnity policies.

Directors & Officers

  • Representing a real estate agency and its director in a high-profile defence of alleged price-fixing and appeals: Commerce Commission v Lodge [2017] NZHC 1497 and Commerce Commission v Lodge [2018] NZCA 523. Michael has obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. The case involves questions of the requirements for an agreement or understanding under the Commerce Act, assessment of effect or likely effect of an arrangement on controlling or fixing prices, definition of market and relevant services, and penalty.
  • Successfully defending major New Zealand insurers from claims by company directors regarding excluded cover arising from the collapse of Nathans Finance and related companies. The proceedings involved a preliminary determination of admissibility of expert evidence: Nathans Finance Ltd (in liq) v AIG Insurance New Zealand Ltd [2014] NZHC 2997. The substantive proceeding settled before trial but included issues on dishonest conduct for the purposes of an insurance contract, insurance contract interpretation, charge over insurance monies, quantum of damages, and assignment of insurance claims.
  • Advising a major New Zealand insurer on trans-Tasman claims and proceedings against directors and officers arising out that company’s collapse. The company lost assets and profits in excess of $80 million through directors and related entities’ alleged improper acquisition of assets. The case included issues of misrepresentation, misleading and deceptive conduct, director duties, frustration of contract, restitution and quantum, and cross-jurisdictional charges over insurance monies.

Professional Indemnity

  • Representing a solicitor and his firm in defence of claims arising from misleading and deceptive conduct by their client in the solicitor’s presence and subsequent appeal: McAlister v Lai [2017] NZHC 791 and McAlister v Lai [2018] NZCA 141. The case included novel issues of solicitor liability to third parties, and the interplay of solicitor duties and obligations under consumer law.

Administrative Law

  • Successfully defending New Zealand Qualifications Authority in high profile claims for judicial review of the authority’ decisions regarding private training establishments, including Linguis International Institute of Language and Culture Ltd v NZQA [2016] NZAR 730 and International Academy of New Zealand v NZQA [2016] NZAR 640. The cases also involved urgent interim injunctions upon filing. The cases involved issues of errors of law, unreasonableness, predetermination and bias, public interest and appropriate relief.

Regulatory

  • Advising New Zealand insurers on indemnity for a local authority arising from that authority’s failures associated with resource consents and building consents in a large subdivision and subsequent proceedings. The claim against the local authority involved novel issues regarding the authority’s obligations regarding resource consents, negligence, causation and the appropriate measure of loss. Michael was also involved as monitoring counsel for the authority’s defence.
  • Representing local authorities against claims arising from provision of official information, including the seminal Supreme Court decision on duties of care when providing information, measure of loss and contribution between parties: Marlborough District Council v Altimarloch Joint Ventures Ltd [2012] 2 NZLR 726.
  • Representing local authorities against claims arising from the exercise of statutory powers, including a Supreme Court authority on the limit to duties owed: McNamara v Auckland City Council [2012] 3 NZLR 701.

Product Liability

  • Successfully defending a fuel supplier against claims arising from its supply of contaminated fuel, damaging machinery and allegedly causing lost profits in excess of $4 million. The case settled immediately before trial, and included issues of contract interpretation, negligence, causation and remoteness, and the proper measure of damages.
Areas of Expertise
  • Directors + Officers Liability
  • Inquiries, Investigations + Prosecutions
  • Management Liability
  • Product Liability + Recall
  • Professional Liability

Industry Representation
  • Construction + Infrastructure
  • Financial Institutions + Services
  • Industrial + Commercial Property
  • Professions + Business Solutions
  • Public Sector + Education

Professional Affiliations
  • Law and Economics Association of New Zealand
  • Legal Research Foundation
  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association