Deal Awards


(David Coull, Belly Gully; Tim Tubman, Chapman Tripp)

M&A Deal of the Year

Shell New Zealand divestment programme

Firms: Ashurst; Bell Gully; Chapman Tripp; Simpson Grierson

  • NZ$794m divestment involving corporate, regulatory, commercial, tax, property, employment and funds teams; largest individual divestment in NZ market during the period
  • Deal team had to manage a clean exit in a rapidly changing regulatory environment requiring a co-ordinated approach to separating different assets in NZ portfolio, taking into account: (i) number of interested bidders and other stakeholders; (ii) changing political landscape faced by energy industry; (iii) age and expected lifespan of assets, together with unique historical and future environmental obligations associated with upstream oil and gas; (iv) long standing JV arrangements; and (v) assets comprise vital infrastructure for NZ.
  • Divestment programme was extremely broad-reaching and complex requiring bespoke solutions to regulator engagement, future capex, drilling and decommissioning commitments, defined benefit pension issues, and historical tax/accounting matters



(Chris Goddard, Bell Gully; Rachel Dunne, Chapman Tripp)

Capital Markets Deal of the Year

Xero convertible note issuance

Firms: Allens; Bell Gully; Chapman Tripp; Gilbert + Tobin; Linklaters

  • USD300m convertible note offer requiring consideration of several challenging NZ legal issues and aspects not commonplace outside USA
  • Complexities included senior unsecured notes sold through a subsidiary, and listing on a foreign stock exchange. While the transaction structure has been commonly used in offshore jurisdictions, it was novel for a NZ or Australian company to use a call spread overlay for convertible bonds. One of the key factors to be addressed from a NZ perspective was ensuring compliance with prohibitions on cartel conduct. Documents needed to be drafted to ensure compliance with the NZ law exception that allows for collaborative activities and the corresponding exception in Australia
  • Transaction involved multiple teams in multiple jurisdictions and linked the security to the company's equity as an attractive way to raise money without diluting existing investors' holdings




(Anton Trixl, Anderson Lloyd; Gerard Souness, Chapman Tripp; Mei Fern Johnson, Russell McVeagh; David Goodman, Anderson Lloyd; Marty Logan, Pitt and Moore (accepting on behalf of Geoff Caradus))

Mid-Market Deal of the Year

Waimea Community Dam

Firms: Anderson Lloyd; Chapman Tripp; Pitt & Moore; Russell McVeagh

  • NZ$104m legally complex, time-pressured, secured project financing partnership involving local government, private sector participants and a Crow categoryn agency
  • Multiple stakeholders with different objectives; special legislation was required to be passed to achieve the transfer of key land from the Crow categoryn to WWL for the footprint of the dam; and many financing/creditor complexities as well as risk allocation issues
  • Innovative structuring of a complex transaction involving businesses, irrigators and government in addition to structural complexities


(Ben Paterson, Russell McVeagh Mark Forman, MinterEllisonRuddWatts Greer Fredricson, Chapman Tripp Jacque Lethbridge, Martelli McKegg)

Consumer, Media and Tech Deal of the Year

Bounty Fresh takeover of Tegel

Firms: Chapman Tripp; MinterEllisonRuddWatts; Russell McVeagh

  • Acquisition was one of NZ’s largest ECM transactions in 2018 and involved the acquisition of an iconic New Zealand brand, with a value of NZ$438m
  • Three different classes of equity securities on issue (ordinary shares and two tranches of performance rights) which added complexity to both the offer process and to the compulsory acquisition process (as the consideration for the performance rights was challenged by certain holders of those rights)
  • Involved coordinating cross-border elements, was subject to OIO approval and the offer contained several novel/bespoke conditions, and intra-offer developments (required de novo legal advice)




(Chris Goddard, Bell Gully; Dan Jones, Russell McVeagh; Kristy Redfern, AIA; Jackie Waddams, AIA)

International Deal of the Year

AIA acquisition of sovereign life insurance business from CBA

Firms: Ashurst (AU); Bell Gully; Debevoise & Plimpton; Herbert Smith Freehills; Russell McVeagh

  • Acquisition of NZ's largest life insurer was part of AIA's acquisition of the Australian and NZ life insurance businesses of CBA for USD2.65bn
  • Complex deal involving consideration of Australian, Bermudan and Hong Kong regulatory issues; critical component of transaction was reinsurance arrangements across NZ and Australia. Necessitated quick turnaround, with sale process taking a few months from announcement of intention to divest to when the successful bidder was announced
  • 20-year partnership agreement was also a complex document, governing a long term and detailed financial agreement. Huge media attention received due to its size, and as companies involved are well known to the public, deal had to be handled with significant care


(David Coull, Bell Gully; Tim Tubman, Chapman Tripp; Stuart Evans, Simpson Grierson)

New Zealand Deal of the Year

Shell New Zealand divestment programme

Ashurst; Bell Gully; Chapman Tripp; Simpson Grierson

  • NZ$794m divestment involving corporate, regulatory, commercial, tax, property, employment and funds teams; largest individual divestment in NZ market during the period
  • Deal team had to manage a clean exit in a rapidly changing regulatory environment requiring a co-ordinated approach to separating different assets in NZ portfolio, taking into account: (i) number of interested bidders and other stakeholders; (ii) changing political landscape faced by energy industry; (iii) age and expected lifespan of assets, together with unique historical and future environmental obligations associated with upstream oil and gas; (iv) long standing JV arrangements; and (v) assets comprise vital infrastructure for NZ.
  • Divestment programme was extremely broad-reaching and complex requiring bespoke solutions to regulator engagement, future capex, drilling and decommissioning commitments, defined benefit pension issues, and historical tax/accounting matters

In-house Awards


(Paris Bree, New Zealand Oil & Gas; Malcolm Hurley, Anthony Harper)

Anthony Harper Young In-House Lawyer of the Year (35 or under) 

Paris Bree, New Zealand Oil & Gas

  • Created several transactions notable for the broad and high-quality legal work required for success and creativity required to secure the desired result; as company secretary she modernised the company's corporate governance during the year; only GC for a listed oil & gas company in New Zealand, negotiating listing rules without the benefit of a large body of precedent guidance
  • Quotes include: ' rates among the best in-house lawyers we deal with at any age and stage of their careers'; 'a stunning, breakout year....working on a complex JV between four companies - with lawyers and management negotiators across the globe'; 'has a strong understanding of commercial drivers, knowledge of the full range of material issues and an ability to negotiate delicate and intricate issues with multiple counterparties, setting her apart'
  • Comments from judges included: 'has the gravitas and skills to become a globally recognised lawyer'; 'high praise from a number of sources for her role in a variety of complex projects and tasks whilst juggling responsibilities as a new mum'



(Marion Franks, Downer; Andrew Poole, MinterEllisonRuddWatts)

MinterEllisonRuddWatts In-House Lawyer of the Year

Marion Franks, Downer

  • Instrumental in the successful completion of Downer’s purchase of Hawkins, grow categorying Downer’s presence in the infrastructure market to become the country’s second-largest vertical construction company; dealt with all of the legal work of what is now a much larger company following the acquisitions with a comparatively small in-house team
  • Provided the legal expertise to the Downer leadership team and Link Alliance Partners on the high-profile City Rail Link Project; legal advice also extended to the 30-year maintenance contract for Downer to deliver services post-completion of the building project
  • Comments from judges include: 'Marion capably handles a large volume of complex work over an evolving range of industry and practice areas, and is at the same time highly focused on developing her team'




(Kristy Redfern, AIA New Zealand; Stuart Evans, Simpson Grierson)

Simpson Grierson Financial Services In-House Team of the Year

AIA New Zealand Legal Team

  • Completed successful acquisition of Sovereign, the largest insurer in NZ, team was instrumental in leading and negotiating a large suite of key documents; led the discussions with the Reserve Bank and Commerce Commission to obtain approvals to the transaction and efficiently managed the OIO approval process
  • Championed a number of gender equality initiatives across the business in 2018; currently overseeing the introduction of an innovative, science-backed wellness programme that encourages people to proactively look after their health
  • Comments from judges include 'bedding in a major acquisition while also responding to ongoing regulatory requirements and business as usual stood out for this team' and 'an impressive year of delivery in uncertain times'


(Spark New Zealand team)

Russell McVeagh In-House Team of the Year

Spark New Zealand

  • The team is full service, supporting the entire range of Spark’s business operations including approximately 3 million customers across consumer, enterprise, government and wholesale, 90+ retail stores and other distribution channels and supply inputs to the business
  • The team’s litigation capabilities and reputation for dealing credibly with regulators were highlighted; it has continued to deliver innovative tools and operating models all while evolving its skillset to address new and globally emerging legal and regulatory issues and championing pan-Spark initiatives
  • Comments from judges include: 'Spark's in-house team we're involved in a large variety of complex legal work, some of which was also very high-profile, as well as a number of non-legal initiatives which have benefitted the organisation immensely, all amidst a huge organisational transition to Agile.'; 'The Spark team have been involved in an impressive range of work and helped the business achieve some game-changing milestones.'

Firm Awards


(David Traylor, Dundas Street; Paula Watts, NICHE Recruiting Specialists)

NICHE Recruiting Specialists Employment Law Specialist Law Firm of the Year

Dundas Street

  • Large volume of legal services provided to government in NZ, whose agencies have ranked them as number 1 or 2 for both quality and volume of services provided through the MBIE panel; largest specialist employment law firm in Wellington; work on high-profile industrial and employment disputes; large in health sector
  • High level of industry recognition of the depth and breadth of its work; clients used the terms 'pragmatic solutions', 'trusted advisors', 'collaborative'
  • Comments from judges included: 'Impressed by the nature of new clients brought on and the extent and complexity of work undertaken'; 'clearly demonstrates highest standards of excellence in client service and specialist expertise across a broad range of complex work'


(Martin Smith, Gilbert Walker; Sherridan Cook, Buddle Findlay)

Litigation & Dispute Resolution Specialist Law Firm of the Year

Gilbert Walker

  • Key engagements include acting on NZ$200m class action; advising a major listed issuer on numerous disputes arising out of an NZ$450m construction project suffering delays and cost overruns; acting for a professional services firm in relation to civil claims and regulatory investigations following the collapse of a listed company causing significant losses to investors; advising financial institutions on conduct and culture issues arising from the Australian Royal Commission; acting for a private equity firm in a legally and factually complex claim seeking over NZ$500m in losses arising from a failed purchase of an iron ore mine etc
  • Consistently highly ranked across many guides; client quotes include: 'Highly respected for skill in complex litigation and excellent client service”; 'finds solutions to problems that other lawyers find elusive …."; “excellent: very focused, smart associates and an upbeat and client-friendly culture”; “competes well with big firms in high-value disputes”
  • Judges comments include: 'Innovative solutions that work; 'demonstrated leader in expertise and evidence of high customer satisfaction'; 'consistently the top firm'




(Anton Blijlevens, AJ Park; Mark Weenink, Westpac)

Intellectual Property Specialist Law Firm of the Year

AJ Park

  • Largest patent and trademark filer in NZ - in the assessed period filed close to 2,500 patent applications in 56 countries and over 3,000 trademark applications in 78 countries from offices in Auckland and Wellington
  • Entered almost 600 new instructors/renewal instructors in the database; acted on contentious oppositions, revocations and infringement matters for a large range of clients; acted for clients on trademark and patent oppositions and litigation in the EU, US, UK and more than a dozen other countries
  • Consistently highly ranked firm and lawyers in various guides; judges comments include 'the best in the business' and ' consistently top of the tree'


(Joe Biddles, Thompson Blackie Biddles; Sam Greenwood, Thompson Blackie Biddles)

Property & Construction Specialist Law Firm of the Year

Thompson Blackie Biddles

  • Mandated on projects well in excess of NZ$1.2bn within the 12-month period; projects include engagement in relation to acquisition/sale transactions, development agreement negotiations and leasing activity
  • Multiple accolades for multiple partners in various practice areas; consistently highly ranked across multiple guides
  • Judges comments include: 'clearly involved in most of the key and complex property deals in the judging period'', 'high-end clients and well respected' and 'stands well above the rest in the category'




(Wotton + Kearney team & Caroline Beaumont, City Rail Link)

Insurance Specialist Law Firm of the Year

Wotton + Kearney

  • Recently bolstered medical malpractice and EPL teams; invested heavily in innovation; worked on a series of complex (confidential) insurance matters with dozens of insurers, reinsurers, underwriters, brokers, insureds and third-party claims managers globally and in NZ
  • Overhauled thought leadership programs to deliver timely insights; numerous sponsorship and support initiatives in charity, diversity and industry education; consistently ranked as top tier across multiple guides; enhanced technology-enabled solutions and significant reduction in costs of document review in high volume matters
  • Comments from judges include: 'A strong submission showing a focused high-quality insurance service with broad and deep experience in the sector and thoughtful client service and recognition'


(Andrew Cordner, Fonterra; Daniel Wong, Flacks & Wong)

Boutique Law Firm of the Year

Flacks & Wong

  • Advised on a broad range of complex transactions from NZ$2m to NZ$200m+ including deals in Consumer, Media and Tech; M&A; Capital Markets
  • Scores of new clients, over 50% of which were referrals from other lawyers; firm and individual lawyers at the firm consistently ranked in top tiers across multiple legal guides
  • Comments from judges included: 'Truly fits the definition of boutique - amazing output for such a small team'




(Wayne McKean, WRMK Lawyers; Sarah Bartlett, WRMK Lawyers; Rebecca Merry, WRMK Lawyers; Hayley Weber, WRMK Lawyers; Melanie Pook, WRMK Lawyers)

Legal Personnel Employer of Choice (<50 Lawyers)

WRMK Lawyers

  • Flexible approach to working arrangements, and a well-utilised comprehensive Flexible Working Policy; gender-balanced and diverse: 79% of the total workforce is female; non-hierarchical flexible working culture; comprehensive benefits programme for employees including income protection insurance, paid study fees/leave, banking packages; flat and transparent bonus structure
  • Seconded a female Lawyer from their Whangarei to Kerikeri office in order to take up a six-month leadership opportunity; facilitated four Secretarial/Legal Executive cross-functional moves; employees benefit from ‘free-to-them’ income protection insurance and can access the firm’s health insurance group policy;
  • Comments from judges include: 'Advanced in many ways of thinking'


(Lisa Jacobs, Anthony Harper; Ally Ashton, Anthony Harper)

Legal Personnel Employer of Choice (51-100 Lawyers)

Anthony Harper

  • Reports on gender issues and pay equity; signatory to Law Society's Gender Equality Charter; adopted Gender Equitable Engagement and Instruction Policy; new benefits such as gross wellbeing allowance; 86.4% employee engagement score; introduced Boost – a new grow categoryth and learning programme. All partners and senior authors have participated in Leadership Toolbox sessions; 90% reporting the training was beneficial.
  • Bi-monthly ‘pulse’ surveys to provide valuable, real-time feedback to share with to the team; openly disclose revenues; rolled out unconscious bias awareness training across the firm; offers fair, competitive, gender-equal remuneration
  • Comments from judges include: '...here is a firm who knows who it is and how to look after its people and no surprise has engaged and happy people.'




(Torrin Crow categoryther, Bell Gully; Jarrod Moyle, Legal Personnel)

Legal Personnel Employer of Choice (>100 Lawyers)

Bell Gully

  • Offer interesting work and opportunities to learn from top talent, investing over $750,000/annum in employee development; “NEXT” programme runs lawyer’s first four years, covering technical training across all practice areas, and training in other important areas including wellness, resilience, tech/analytics, diversity, alcohol & me, unconscious bias, and Maori Business Hui protocol; extensive pro bono programme - this year's focus is children/youth and mental health
  • Wellbeing benefits include sponsorship of sporting events, medical insurance subsidies, parental leave full pay top-ups etc; lead the legal industry's LGBTI Community; offers a diversity and inclusion programme, including Te Reo classes, Rainbow Tick, cultural intelligence, etc.
  • Comments from judges include: 'Bell Gully was the standout for its holistic and broad offerings and support for its people.'; 'An impressive range of initiatives'


(Mark Kelly, Bankside Chambers; Trevor Slater, Resolution Institute)

Resolution Institute Mediator of the Year

Mark Kelly, Bankside Chambers

  • Elected AMINZ Councillor; appointed on multiple mediation panels/lists, including: Weathertight Homes Tribunal, World Intellectual Property Office; Worked on legislation including Canterbury Earthquakes Tribunal Bill 2018 - Co-author and Farm Debt Mediation Bill 2018 - Lead author
  • Feedback from clients/fellow mediators: ' his approach and his upbeat and engaging manner are of huge benefit in getting constructive discussion and ultimately resolution of difficult issues'; 'an excellent mediator. Drawing upon his skills as a senior litigation lawyer, he has a sound analytical approach to legal issues. He is naturally personable and creates a positive environment for dialogue but is also directive when required. In addition to his legal skills and judgment he is commercially savvy and uses that knowledge as part of his persuasive techniques'
  • Comments from judges include: 'Completed many high-value mediations and received high praise from others in the profession'; 'is a savvy practitioner - all class'




(Liz Blythe, Russell McVeagh; Kathryn Cross, Artemis Executive Recruitment)

Artemis Executive Recruitment Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year (35 or under)

Liz Blythe, Russell McVeagh

  • Specialist area of expertise, significant international and local experience in technology matters, high commitment level and passionate team leader; clients describe her as 'innovative and creative lawyer ' and 'able to contribute insights beyond her role'
  • Advises exclusively on technology-related matters, including complex technology projects, IP and data protection considerations, telecommunications, e-commerce, technology disputes, technology aspects of corporate transactions and emerging technologies; in the last 12 months has advised, among others, ANZ, BNZ, Westpac, ASB, Fonterra, Auckland International Airport, New Zealand Super Fund, Fidelity Life, Avis Budget Group, Vector, Woolworths, Trustpower, Strait Shipping, Uber and Google
  • Comments from judges included 'an impressive submission'; 'an obviously brilliant lawyer'; 'excellence across the board'


(Jon Calder, Tompkins Wake)

Managing Partner of the Year (<100 Lawyers)

Jon Calder, Tompkins Wake

  • Has driven a review and gap analysis across the firm’s policies, procedures and processes to enhance the framework, and establish guidelines to ensure people are safe, have a voice, and are supported in any challenge they face; completed the Leadership in Law Firms program at Harvard Law School forging connections that have created opportunities for the firm and reinforce his capability and credibility as a law firm leader
  • Selected achievements from 2018 - 2019 under Calder's leadership: Record revenue grow categoryth and profitability (>10%) in 2018/2019; Rainbow Tick certified; Tompkins Wake ranked as a leading law firm in various ranking guides; Developed AdviSME, the firm's AI-powered automation solution for SME businesses
  • Comments from judges include: 'Commitment to strategy but also the wider review such as reviewing the firm's response to the (confidential) report - that is strong leadership.'




(Hugh Kettle, Bell Gully (accepting on behalf of Anna Buchly))

Managing Partner of the Year (>100 Lawyers)

Anna Buchly, Bell Gully

  • Led the firm’s progression and success across a number of key areas including its diversity & inclusion initiatives, improving the firm’s financial metrics and external profile and reputation, and grow categorying the depth and breadth of the firm’s client base
  • Appointed to the Takeovers Panel, the government’s regulator of the corporate takeovers market; consistently highly ranked in multiple rankings; led the team advising Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) on a number of novel issues and oversees and monitors the Bell Gully secondee at ETNZ, one of Bell Gully’s most high-profile relationships
  • Comments from judges include: 'Doing a great job in a strong and well-respected firm. Love the leadership style and still leading the big complex deals in the market; 'A noticeable change in BG following her leadership.'


(Nicole Xanthopol, Webb Henderson; Henry Willis, Webb Henderson)

Deal Team of the Year (<100 Lawyers)

Webb Henderson

  • Highlights include advising on various high-value sales; divestments with significant legal work; complex contractual matrix and regulatory considerations in PRC; M&A; listing of various entity types; the preparation of new listing rules for junior mining companies and listed funds; ASX listings and IPOs (>NZ$2bn in aggregate
  • This year the team has expanded; continues to act on significant and prominent matters globally- projects have involved clients and counterparties in multiple jurisdictions ranging from government/SOE entities, through to large corporates, private equity sponsors, family offices and individuals.
  • Comments from judges include: 'a strong offering across the board and has clearly been involved in some significant and complex deals' and 'impressive and varied range of highly complex transactions across a variety of industries'




(Dan Jones, Russell McVeagh)

NZ Lawyer Deal Team of the Year (>100 Lawyers)

Russell McVeagh, Corporate Team

  • Key roles in multiple significant, innovative, and complex transactions
  • Numerous accolades for dealmakers involved in recent work; consistently highly ranked across multiple guides
  • Client quotes include 'attentive service and practical advice'; 'strong negotiators and highly skilled technical lawyers with commercial perspective", and "consistent and clear advice"


(Sally Peart, Law Plus Rebecca Merry, WRMK Lawyers; Wayne McKean, WRMK Lawyers; Hayley Weber, WRMK Lawyers; Melanie Pook, WRMK Lawyers)

Law Plus Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year

WRMK Lawyers

  • Northland’s largest law firm; has developed teams with specialist expertise and innovative practices; one of the first firms to successfully transition to a digital office
  • Subsidiary business grew by a third in its 2nd year in operation, bringing on board nine new clients; opened fourth office, in Warkworth, in March 2019; piloted a new service, providing five firms remote trust accounting services; acted as the independent investigator on four major workplace investigations into workplace bullying and culture for a range of organisations; acted in a number of complex trust restructuring matters etc
  • Comments by judges include: 'impressed by the firm's extent of complex work in the year'; 'leading legal practice, with interesting digital strategy and services'; 'a successful firm in their part of the country and lead in the region'; 'demonstrated depth and breadth, the ability to win work on major local and national projects, and innovation'; 'a broad range of expertise and excellence in client service'




(Jon Calder, Tompkins Wake; Erich Bachmann, Hesketh Henry)

Mid-size Law Firm of the Year

Tompkins Wake

  • Built and launched a legal tech platform for SMEs using artificial intelligence and automation; designed to assess business health and identify risk, it is a first of type legal solution in NZ and has attracted interest from law firms in Australia, Canada and the UK
  • Achieved record grow categoryth in revenue (+13% YoY) and profitability, expanded Auckland office; opened a new office in Tauranga; strengthened the China desk, the banking & finance practice and Dispute Resolution and Litigation team grew 15% and acted for several high profile clients; Relationship Property team acted for some of NZ’s highest-profile individuals and are pioneering the use of an AI solution for family law.
  • Consistently highly ranked lawyers and firm. The awards judges comments include: 'A broad range of expertise, innovation in service delivery and diversity focus set this submission apart'; 'strong submission reflecting all facets of what makes a good law firm - innovation, high-quality work, wider community contribution, employee focus'


(Rachel Dunne, Chapman Tripp; Helen Edwards, K3 Legal)

K3 Legal Large Law Firm of the Year

Chapman Tripp

  • Advised on multiple equity market deals; acted on prominent M&A deals; had a key advisory role in contracts shaping New Zealand’s landscape; multiple partners working on various national advisory boards including Sustainable Finance Forum Leadership Group; steering committee of the Capital Markets 2029 taskforce
  • Significant wins for litigation team in the Supreme Court, creating leading precedent; consistently highly ranked across multiple global guides; client comments include: 'responsive', 'depth of legal and commercial analysis', 'supportive', 'first-rate'
  • Judges comments include: 'against strong competition this submission demonstrated clearly the highest level of expertise, a very good range of practice areas and innovative client service'


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