Philip Skelton QC


Telephone: +64 9-307-9966

Mobile: +64 27-567-9919

[email protected]

Post: PO Box 4314, Shortland Street, Auckland, New Zealand 1140.

One of the top names in employment law and commercial litigation, Philip draws on 7 years as a member of Bankside Chambers and 14 years as a Russell McVeagh partner, supported by degrees from Auckland and Oxford.
Philip’s areas of specialty include commercial litigation and employment law. He has considerable experience in shareholder disputes, partnership / JV disputes, Unit Title Act issues, property litigation and managing large scale “class action” claims involving multiple plaintiffs with or without litigation funding support.

Commercial Law

For example, Philip in 2011/2012 represented over 100 room owners in the Westin Hotel Auckland in litigation with the receivers of the hotel management company. Philip is currently acting for multiple purchasers in the Kawarau Falls development in Queenstown who are seeking to recover approximately $10,000,000 of deposits paid to a stakeholder in relation to the sale and purchase agreements. Philip is also currently instructed as senior counsel for the minority shareholder interests in Greymouth Petroleum Holdings Limited in complex High Court commercial list proceedings.

Employment Law

In the area of employment law, Philip appears regularly in the Employment Court and in the Employment Relations Authority for both large scale employers and senior employees in all types of employment related litigation. He is a long standing member and past convenor of the Auckland District Law Society Employment Law Committee and a regular presenter at the NZ Law Society Employment Law Conference.

Recent and Notable Cases

  • Greymouth Holdings Ltd & Ors v Jet Trustees Ltd & Ors (High Court, Auckland, Commercial List) 2012 : Acting as counsel for minority shareholders in relation to a complex shareholder dispute involving claims and cross-claims of shareholder oppression, allegations of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, and an application to wind up company on just and equitable ground.
  • Sun v Peninsula Road Ltd [2012] NZHC 1209 : Interim injunction obtained on behalf of multiple overseas based plaintiffs to prevent forfeiture of approximately $10 million of deposit money in relation to Mr McKenna’s Kawarau Falls , Queenstown development. Plaintiffs have pleaded contractual and Securities Act causes of action.
  • Hutton v Provenco Cadmus Ltd (in Rec) [2012] NZ EmpC 207 : Employment Court proceeding seeking to recover holiday pay and redundancy entitlements in the receivership of the Provenco Cadmus group of companies. Judgment on jurisdictional issues reported [2010] ERNZ 213.
  • LSG Sky Chefs NZ Ltd v Pacific Flight Catering Ltd [2012] NZHC 2810, Woolford J : Test case on the interpretation and operation of Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act 2000.  Commentary in Brookers Employment Law, para ER 69J.02.
  • LSG Sky Chefs NZ Ltd v Pacific Flight Catering Ltd [2012] NZHC 1996, Toogood J : High Court determine that defence of “passing on” not arguable under New Zealand law. Noted: [2012] ECB 100.
  • Melview Viaduct Harbour Ltd (in Rec) v Body Corporate 384911 [2012] 1 NZLR 84 : Successful defence of receivers’ application to appoint an Administrator to the Westin Hotel Body Corporate.
  • Low v Body Corporate 384911 [2011] 2 NZLR 263 : Successful application on behalf of Westin Hotel room owners to have various rules of the Body Corporate declared ultra vires.
  • New Zealand Steel Ltd v National Distribution Union & Ors (High Court, 11 May 2010, Potter J) : Proceeding by NZ Steel for declaration that various provisions of their Collective Employment Agreement were void for breaching price fixing provisions in the Commerce Act 1986; considering boundary issues between Commerce Act and Employment Relations Act provisions. Noted: (2010) 3 Global Competition Law Review.
  • New Zealand Airline Pilots Association Inc v Jet Connect Ltd [2009] 6 NZELR 632 Employment Court, Chief Judge Colgan : Successful defence on behalf of Qantas Airways Ltd to application by Union for an injunction to restrain Jetstar Airways Ltd from launching its New Zealand business.
  • Denarau Investments Ltd v Ludlow (2008) 9 NZCPR 525 (CA) : Unsuccessful Court of Appeal challenge to High Court determination that Denarau, by attempting to renegotiate sale and purchase agreements, had wrongfully repudiated the agreements.
  • Transnet NZ Ltd v Dulhunty Power NZ Ltd [2007] ERNZ 379 : High Court interim injunction application, including application for a spring board injunction, to prevent ex-employees from working for competitor and using confidential information.
  • Bradford Trust Ltd v Roebeck [2006] ERNZ 976 (HC) : Springboard injunction granted against ex-employees who set up a competing business and diverted to their own use valuable business opportunities. Employment Relations Authority subsequently awarded damages against former employees in excess of $220,000.
  • Sky City Investments Christchurch Ltd v Thomas (2004) 17 PRNZ 411 (HC) : Acting for Sky City in shareholders’ dispute in relation to the Christchurch Casino.
  • Man O’War Farm Ltd v Bree [2003] 1 ERNZ 83 : Successful appeal to Court of Appeal on behalf of Man O’War Farms Ltd against Employment Court determination that Mr Bree had been unjustifiably dismissed.
  • Bomac Laboratories Ltd v F Hoffman-La Roche Ltd (2002) 7 NZBLC 103,627 (HC) : Successfully acting for and settling a substantial claim for a plaintiff group comprising some of New Zealand’s largest businesses against various multinational pharmaceutical companies who had allegedly engaged in unlawful trade practices, including a price fixing cartel, in relation to the market for vitamins in New Zealand and overseas.
  • Waihi Mines Ltd v AUAG Resources Ltd (1993) 13 PRNZ 372 (CA) : Dispute between the joint venture owners of the Matha Hill Gold mine at Waihi over pre-emptive rights provisions in their joint venture agreement. Case went to Privy Council twice before final resolution.
  • BHP New Zealand Steel Ltd v O’Dea [1997] ERNZ 667 (HC) : Leading High Court decision on the interpretation of “political opinion” discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993.
  • Brighouse Ltd v Bilderbeck [1995] NZLR 158 (CA) : At the time, this was the leading Court of Appeal decision on redundancy law in what was a controversial 3/2 split decision.

Qualifications and Career


  • BCom / LLB.
  • BCL (Oxon).

Academic Awards

  • Senior Prize in Law and Accounting
  • Chapman Tripp Scholar
  • Spencer Mason Scholarship
  • Worchester College Scholarship
  • Stout Shield finalist


  • Barrister sole at Bankside Chambers  since 2006
  • Partner , Russell McVeagh 1991-2006
  • Solicitor, Berwin Leighton, London,  1989-1990
  • Solicitor Russell McVeagh 1983-1987
  • Admitted as a Barrister & Solicitor 1983