The Hon Paul Heath QC was admitted to the New Zealand Bar in 1978 and practised as a barrister and solicitor until 1998 when he was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel. During his time in practice, Paul was involved in commercial litigation, with particular emphasis on insolvency and restructuring. Paul now practises predominantly as a commercial arbitrator and mediator, as well as providing advice in complex insolvency cases. He is currently on panels or lists of arbitrators maintained by the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, the New Zealand International Arbitration Centre and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK).
Paul served as a Commissioner on the New Zealand Law Commission (an independent statutory law reform body) between 1999 and 2002, leading its work on cross-border insolvency, electronic commerce and arbitration. He represented New Zealand at UNCITRAL Working Groups on Electronic Commerce and Insolvency between 1999 and 2001, and chaired the Insolvency Working Group on two occasions, in the absence of the elected chair.
He was appointed as a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand in March 2002, and served in that capacity (as well as an ad hoc Judge of the Court of Appeal) until his retirement from judicial office on 6 April 2018, when he returned to the private sector. During his time as a Judge, he was on the Commercial List and (later) Commercial Panel of the High Court. He presided over high-profile cases involving collapses of finance companies following the Global Financial Crisis, including South Canterbury Finance Ltd in which directors were alleged to have deceitfully induced the Government of New Zealand to enter into a guarantee of investors’ funds, in respect of which it was later obliged to pay out a sum of about $1.6 billion. In 2010, he sat as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Vanuatu and currently, he holds a part-time judicial office as President of the Pitcairn Court of Appeal and a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Kiribati.
He is involved in both domestic and international work of some complexity. He is also an associate at South Square in London, the leading set of insolvency and restructuring chambers in that city. In 2000, he became a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and in June 2019, was appointed as a member of P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s panel of recognised international market experts in finance.
Since joining Bankside in 2018, Paul has (among other things):
- Completed a public report for Tauranga City Council on problems arising out of the Bella Vista subdivision
- Been appointed as sole arbitrator and as a mediator in a number of large commercial disputes
- Been appointed as Inaugural Chair of INSOL International’s Mediation Colloquium
- Been appointed as adviser to the Justice Select Committee on the Arbitration Amendment Bill 2018.
- Undertaken judicial training in Myanmar for the Asian Development Bank and invited to assist in similar work being undertaken by the World Bank and INSOL International in two other jurisdictions.
- Been appointed as President of the Court of Appeal of the Pitcairn Islands and as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Kiribati.
- Been appointed as a member of P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s panel of recognised international market experts in finance. That organisation works in the field of international commercial dispute resolution in collaboration with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
Qualifications and Career
The Hon Paul Heath QC studied law at the University of Auckland, graduating LLB in 1978. He was admitted to the Bar later that year. During his time in practice, he appeared on multiple occasions in the High Court and Court of Appeal, and on three occasions in the Privy Council. Paul went to the separate Bar in 1998 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel that year. He was a Law Commissioner between 1999 and 2002, having been a consultant on commercial law issues from 1997.
In March 2002, Paul was appointed a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand, an office he held until his retirement from the Bench on 6 April 2018. During that time, he sat as a member of the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the Court of Appeal between 2003 and 2016. He also sat as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Vanuatu in July 2010.
Paul is a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand, and a Chartered Arbitrator.
- INSOL International
- Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand (RITANZ). Paul was elected a Life Member in 2015. RITANZ is the New Zealand affiliate of INSOL International
- International Insolvency Institute
- Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy (2000)
- Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Inc
- Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK)
- New Zealand Law Society
- New Zealand Bar Association