Peter Watts QC


Telephone: ++64 9 309 6160

Mobile: ++64 21 491 531

[email protected]

Post: PO Box 1571, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140


Peter recently joined Bankside Chambers on a fulltime basis, having been a door tenant at the Chambers since 2009. He had been teaching for over 30 years at the University of Auckland in commercial law subjects. Throughout his career he has been a regular provider of legal opinions, writer of submissions, and adviser on pleadings, for the profession on a wide range of commercial topics, including in litigation before all levels of New Zealand courts and the Privy Council. Since 2010 he has also been a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers, The Temple, London, where he has provided opinions in litigation, including before the England and Wales Court of Appeal and the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

Peter has recently been appointed as a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, and as a Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

Peter has broad expertise in commercial law,including agency law, company law, equity and trusts, the law of restitution, and insolvency law.  He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the law of agency, and is the General Editor of Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency (21st ed, Sweet & Maxwell, 2018). His other books include Watts, Campbell and Hare Company Law in New Zealand (2nd ed, LexisNexis, 2014) and Directors’ Powers and Duties (2nd ed, Lexis Nexis, 2015). He is also a contributing author to Morison’s Company & Securities Law and Heath & Whale on Insolvency. He is NZ editor of the Restitution Law Review (UK), and Agency Law editor of the Journal of Business Law (UK).  He has written for many of the Commonwealth’s leading law journals, including more than 30 contributions to the Law Quarterly Review, and articles in Cambridge Law JournalOxford Journal of Legal StudiesLloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law QuarterlyJournal of Business LawJournal of Contract LawJournal of Equity, Torts Law JournalAustralian Bar Review and Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal. His articles have been cited by judges in the House of Lords, United Kingdom Supreme Court, High Court of Australia, Supreme Court of New Zealand, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Hong Kong Court of Final appeal, and many other Commonwealth courts.

Now that he is in fulltime legal practice, Peter is available to be instructed in most areas of commercial law and the law of trusts.

Recent and Notable Cases

Recent and Notable Cases

Peter appeared as counsel in the New Zealand Supreme Court in Stiassny v Commissioner of Inland Revenue [2013] 1 NZLR 453, and in the New Zealand Court of Appeal in Insight Legal Trustee Co Ltd v Stokes [2013] NZCA 148. He has otherwise provided paid assistance in recent years as adviser in several appeals to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Peter has an active advisory practice in England and Wales. He was a paid adviser in an appeal before the United Kingdom Supreme Court in Dunhill v Burgin [2014] UKSC 18, and in the England and Wales Court of Appeal in UBS AG v Kommunale Wasserwerke Leipzig GmbH [2017] EWCA Civ 1567 and Eze v Conway [2019] EWCA Civ 88. See also the reliance on his writing by members of the UK Supreme Court in Bilta (UK) Ltd v Nazir (No 2) [2015] UKSC 23. He appeared as counsel in Redwood Group Ltd v Queenstown Gateway (5M) Ltd [2018] NZHC 3439.

Qualifications and Career

Qualifications and Career

Peter is a graduate of the Universities of Canterbury (1980), and Cambridge (1982) where he went as a Commonwealth Scholar. He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1981. Before joining the University of Auckland in 1985, he worked for Duncan Cotterill in Christchurch, and Chapman Tripp in Wellington.

Peter was made Queen’s Counsel in 2013 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2014. In 2016 he was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, and was invited to be one of the two debaters (against Professor Virgo of Cambridge) in the annual debate at the Chancery Bar Association Annual Conference in London, on the subject: “Is unjust enrichment a satisfactory legal concept?” He now holds a Visiting Professorship at Oxford University, teaching there each October.

Peter is an Associate of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ).



Peter is a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers, the Temple, London, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.