John has a broad range of experience and expertise as a commercial litigator, including in employment law, education law and property disputes. Prior to joining Bankside Chambers, he was a senior litigation partner in international law firm DLA Piper.
Best known as an employment law expert, John has regularly been ranked as a leading individual in the Chambers and Legal 500 Directories. He has acted for significant unions, for major national and international employers, and for individuals including CEOs and other C-suite executives. He has much experience of cross-border employment issues as a partner in international law firm DLA Piper.
Lease, Property and Trust Disputes
Current areas of specialisation include lease and property law disputes, and trust law issues. John has acted extensively for the Cornwall Park Trust Board, notably in relation to ground leases (“Glasgow Leases”), disputed rent reviews and other property law issues. He has also acted for body corporates.
John has represented a major local authority in Land Valuation Tribunal litigation relating to Public Works Act 1981 compensation for significant property takings by NZTA.
Commercial litigation, Intellectual Property, Privacy Law
Commercial litigation has involved major fraud recovery work involving numerous multi-million dollar claims, applications for Search Orders and Freezing Orders, securities enforcement, various commercial disputes involving sales or purchases of businesses, and commercial contracts.
Intellectual property law experience includes copyright, trade marks, passing off, and fair trading.
Privacy law work includes advising many clients on privacy compliance and disputes, including the application of the GDPR to New Zealand entities.
John has a long running interest and expertise in Education Law, acting for and against Boards of Trustees and commissioners of schools, Universities, and their insurers. Issues have included advice on governance issues, employment issues, enrolment schemes, student discipline including suspension, stand downs, exclusion and expulsion, discrimination and privacy complaints, and student claims relating to quality of education provision.
“Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family”: Kofi Annan
Tribunal and Mediation experience
John has been Deputy Chair, New Zealand Teaching Council Disciplinary Tribunal, since 2011.
John is a trained mediator.
Governance Experience, Advice and Consultancy
Council member Manukau Institute of Technology since 2010. John is a qualified company director. He has assisted in the resolution of various difficult issues at governance/chair/CEO level.
- Cornwall Park Trust Board v Chen  NZHC 2465
- Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission – appeared extensively in the Royal Commission hearings 2011-2012 for a leading engineering consultancy
- Chan v Body Corporate 105164  NZHC 249
- Mayne v Polychem Marketing Ltd  NZ EmpC 133
- Tower Health and Life Limited v Nukunuku HC AK 2009-404-003749, 8 July 2009
- Skilton v Fitzgibbon & St John’s School Board of Trustees High Court, Auckland, 13 May 1998, M142/98, Salmon J
- Foodstuffs (Auckland) Limited v National Distribution Union  2 NZLR 280
- Ports of Auckland Limited v New Zealand Waterfront Workers Union Inc  3 NZLR 268
Qualifications and Career
- Victoria University of Wellington: BA, LL.B. (Hons)
- Australian Graduate School of Management: residential course on Leading Best Practice: Strategic Law Firm Leadership
- Institute of Directors: Certificate in Company Direction
- Advanced LEADR Mediation Training – Full Panel Member
- LEADR (Lawyers Involved in Alternative Dispute Resolution) mediation training: qualified LEADR mediator
- Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Award (jointly with other contributing authors) for Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (Volume One)
- Second prize Legal Research Foundation Competition for best published article on New Zealand Law (“Responsibility for the Actus Reus” – see publications list)
- Chapman Tripp Centenary Award 1977
- Senior Scholar
- A H Johnstone Scholarship (VUW)
- Jurisprudence Prize (VUW)
- Admitted barrister and solicitor 1978
- Lecturer/senior lecturer Auckland University Law School 1977-1988
- Solicitor, Russell McVeagh 1988-1989
- Senior Associate McElroy Milne 1989-1992
- Senior Associate Phillips Fox 1992-1994
- Appointed Partner DLA Piper (formerly Phillips Fox) 1994
- Appointed Deputy Chair New Zealand Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal 2011
- Appointed council member, Manukau Institute of Technology, 2010
- New Zealand Bar Association
- International Bar Association
- Member New Zealand Law Society Employment Law Committee
- Council member Legal Research Foundation
- Auckland Medico-Legal Society
- New Zealand Chapter of ANZELA (Australia New Zealand Education Law Association)
- ANZIIF member
Publications, conference papers and seminars
Publications list available on request