John is a senior competition law specialist and commercial litigation barrister. He was formerly with Kensington Swan for 26 years, including 20 years as a partner.
John is particularly known for his expertise in competition law. He has been senior counsel in a number of major competition law cases including:
- For the plaintiff retailers (including Progressive, Woolworths, Farmers, Noel Leeming, Dick Smith Electronics and Whitcoulls) in the major credit card interchange fees case against Visa, MasterCard and the major trading banks
- For Gullivers Pacific in the High Court opposing the application by Qantas and Air New Zealand for authorisation of their airline alliance
- For the New Zealand Rugby Union in the High Court proceedings relating to authorisation of their player transfer regulations
- For a major airline in defending the air cargo cartel case brought by the Commerce Commission.
Competition and regulatory matters in which John has been involved cover a large number of industries including telecommunications, electricity transmission and distribution, ports, airlines, credit cards, manufacturing, sporting bodies and professional associations.
John is a prolific writer and presenter on competition law issues. A selection of his published journal articles in the competition law field is as follows.
- Counterfactual Analysis in Merger Reviews (2012) 25 NZULR 103
- Exemplary damages under the Commerce Act (2012) NZLJ 82
- Leniency Applications (2010) NZLJ 187
- The Meaning of Competition (2010) 24 NZULR 98
- Trade Associations and the Commerce Act (2010) NZLJ 110
- Sharing Price Information with Competitors (2009) NZLJ 272
- Bundling: An overview of New Zealand and Australian Trade Practices Laws (2009) 6 MqJBL313
- Franchises and competition law (2009) NZLJ 311
- Predatory pricing (2002) NZLJ 183
- The Commerce Amendment Act 2001(2001) 7 NZBLQ 217
- Misuse of Market Power: Predatory Pricing after Carter Holt Harvey (2001) 7 NZBLQ 49
- NZ Mergers and takeovers (1991) 6 TPLB 69
- Market Definition and Maximum Retail Pricing (1989) 5 AMLB 14
- Monopolisation: The practical implications of section 36 of the Commerce Act 1986(1988) 18 VUWLR 51
- On an ongoing basis John also writes the column, Land on Competition Law, in the New Zealand Law Society publication, LawTalk.
A selection of his competition law conference presentations is as follows.
- ‘Joint Ventures and the Collaborative Activity Exemption’ Competition Law and Policy Institute Workshop (August 2013).
- ‘Commerce and the Regulators’ Bar Association seminar (June 2013).
- ‘A difference of opinion: What the Metcash case means for mergers in New Zealand’ Brightstar’s 12th Annual Competition Law and Regulatory Review (May 2012).
- ‘Competition Law Damages’ Competition Law and Policy Institute Workshop (August 2011).
- ‘Misuse of Market Power Section 36: How the Telecom 0867 Case Has Clarified the Law’ Brightstar’s 11th Annual Competition Law and Regulatory Review (February 2011).
- ‘Cartels & Price Fixing’ Brightstar’s 10th Annual Competition Law and Regulation Review (February 2010).
- ‘Dealing with Commerce Commission Investigations’ Brightstar Competition Law and Regulation Review (February 2008)
- ‘Section 36: When is ‘use’ misuse?’ 18th Annual Workshop of the Competition Law and policy Institute (August 2007).
- ‘Recent Developments in section 36 of the Commerce Act 1986’ 16th Annual Workshop of the Competition Law and Policy Institute (August 2005).
- ‘Misuse of market power: where does the law stand after the Privy Council decision in Carter Holt’ 5th Annual Competition Law and Regulation Review Conference (February 2005).
- ‘The New Zealand Commerce Commission Approach to Applications for Clearance and Authorisation’ Fourth Annual Competition Law and Regulation Review 2004 (February 2004).
- The Proposed Cartel between Qantas and the Air New Zealand, why the Commission was too soft’ 14th Annual Workshop of Competition Law and policy Institute of New Zealand (August 2003).
- ‘Misuse of Market Power – the Implications for New Zealand of Australian Judicial and Legislative Reform’ New Zealand Competition Law Master Course 2003, Wellington (February 2003)
- ‘Business Acquisitions – Formal and Informal Approaches to the Commerce Commission’ 13th Annual Workshop of the Competition Law and Policy Institute of New Zealand (August 2002).
- ‘Predatory Pricing – below cost pricing under the Commerce Act’ IIR NZ Competition Law Master Course (March 2002).
- ‘Predatory Pricing – Below cost pricing under the Commerce Act as Amended’ IIR NZ Competition Law Conference (May 2001).
- ‘Examining the impact of the Commerce Act reforms: The Concerns and Issues for Business and the New Zealand Economy’ IIR NZ Competition Law Conference (May 2001)
- ‘Misuse of Market Power: Predatory Pricing after Carter Holt’ 11th Workshop of the Competition Law and Policy Institute of New Zealand (August 2000).
- ‘The Role of the Prime Necessities Doctrine in the Control of Essential Services’ IIR Competition Law and Practice Conference (August 1995).
- ‘The Prime Necessities Doctrine: Where does it fit?’6th Workshop of the Competition Law and Policy Institute of New Zealand (August 1995).
- ‘The Role of Efficiency in Competition Policy’ 5th Workshop of the Competition Law and Policy Institute of New Zealand (August 1994).
In 2012 John was a presenter of the New Zealand Law Society roadshow seminar on competition law, ‘Competition Law- The Must Knows”.
John has had extensive experience in working with and briefing competition economists, and in 2011 attended a 5 day Melbourne University course on economics for competition lawyers.
John has appeared as counsel in, and project managed, a number of high profile large and complex litigation matters. Major litigation for which John has had responsibility covers a range of commercial fields including competition law, company and takeover litigation, insurance law, franchising, patents, the Fair Trading Act and contractual disputes. Examples include the major franchising litigation for Dymocks Booksellers in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Privy Council in which Dymocks was entirely successful, and major patent litigation for Eli Lilly resulting in the successful revocation of a competitor’s patent for the use of chemical compounds for medical purposes. Further details are as follows:
- Woolworths, Dick Smith, Foodstuffs, Noel Leeming, Farmers, and Whitcoulls: Acting as senior counsel for agroup of major New Zealand retailers who brought substantial Commerce Act proceedings against Visa, MasterCard and the main trading banks, relating to the alleged price fixing of credit card interchange fees and the alleged anti-competitive effect of the Visa and Mastercard scheme rules. The proceedings were successfully settled in late 2009.
- Malaysia Airlines: Acting as senior counsel in its defence of significant Commerce Act proceedings by the Commerce Commission relating to alleged price fixing of fuel and security surcharges.
- Call Plus: Acting for CallPlus in Commerce Act proceedings, involving seeking and obtaining injunctive relief, against Telecom, then pursuing and subsequently settling a substantial Commerce Act claim.
- Dymocks Booksellers: Acting as counsel for Dymocks in major litigation on the termination of franchise agreements, and defence of claims relating to misrepresentation, appearing in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Privy Council. Dymocks was entirely successful in the litigation.
- Gullivers Pacific: Acting for Gullivers Pacific in it successful High Court opposition to the proposed airline alliance between Qantas and Air New Zealand.
- Eli Lilly: Acting as counsel for Eli Lilly in major patent litigation seeking revocation of a patent of a competitor (Pfizer), which related to use of certain forms of chemical compounds for medical purposes. Eli Lilly was entirely successful in the litigation with its opponent agreeing to all relief sought immediately prior to trial.
- New Zealand Rugby Union: Acting as counsel for New Zealand Rugby Union in its applications to the Commerce Commission for authorisation of its player transfer regulations and salary cap arrangements.
Qualifications and Career
John has a first class honours degree in law from Victoria University of Wellington and in 1987 was awarded the Chapman Tripp prize for top law graduate. He won the Victoria University of Wellington mooting competition in 1985. John was admitted to the bar in 1986.
He joined the national law firm Kensington Swan in 1986 and was a partner of that firm for 20 years from early 1993 to late 2012.
John is a board member of the Competition Law and Policy Institute advisory board which organises the leading New Zealand competition law conference.
John is also a current faculty member for the New Zealand Law Society litigation skills course. He is also a member of the Law Reform Committee for the New Zealand Bar Association.
John is a member of the New Zealand Law Society ethics committee. John believes that as a lawyer it is important to stand by your convictions and apply the law with integrity and with respect for others.
In his spare time John is also President of the Auckland Toastmasters club, and was the 2013 winner of the Division A (Auckland) table topics impromptu speaking competition. He is also an (unpublished) writer of children’s stories.