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Janna is an experienced advocate practising in civil and commercial litigation.  She has particular expertise in disputes concerning trusts, estates, contract and equity.

Janna is a results-focused barrister. She is regularly instructed to provide pragmatic and commercially realistic advice in a wide range of general civil and commercial disputes, including contract and tort matters, governance issues and in complex litigation.  She assists high net worth families and trustees with advisory opinions and compliance advice.  In addition to her core specialisms in trust and estate disputes, Janna has a particular interest in contract, professional negligence and judicial review.  

She has appeared at all levels of the New Zealand courts, including as both lead counsel and counsel assisting the High Court.  She also appears as junior counsel with some of New Zealand’s leading barristers.  

In addition to her work as an advocate, Janna regularly presents at professional seminars / conferences and is actively involved in law reform, including as a former member of the New Zealand Law Society Law Reform Committee and past president of the Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association.  She is a member the New Zealand Bar Association, the New Zealand Law Society and the Canterbury Women Lawyers’ Association.  

Prior to joining the independent bar in 2016, Janna worked at Wilson Harle (Auckland) and at Russell McVeagh (Wellington).  She holds a Masters of Law from the University of Michigan, where she was a Grotius Fellow in 2010-2011, and a BA /LLB (First Class Hons) from the University of Canterbury (2007). Following graduation, Janna spent two years as a Judge’s Clerk to the Rt.Hon. Sir Andrew Tipping at the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

She has offices in Christchurch and Auckland and accepts instructions from around the country.

Case Highlights

Recent cases include:

  • acting for the trustee in Lambie Trustee  Ltd v Addleman [2021] NZSC 54, the leading Supreme Court authority on disclosure of legal advice by trustees to beneficiaries;
  • acting for plaintiff beneficiaries in McCallum v McCallum [2021] NZCA 237, the leading Court of Appeal authority on applications by trustees for access to trust funds to defend litigation;
  • appearing as amicus curiae (independent counsel appointed to assist the Court) on an application by an insurer to refer a question of law (contract interpretation) to the High Court from the Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal: IAG v Evans [2020] NZHC 1326;
  • lead counsel for professional trustees seeking directions from the Court as to whether to defend litigation;
  • acting for an executor to successfully resist a mutual wills claim: Clarke v Clements [2021] NZHC 2716;
  • acting to release a solicitor from her undertaking: Ormerod v Ormerod [2018] NZHC 527;
  • lead counsel for plaintiff beneficiary in claim alleging breach of the Family Protection Act 1955 and Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949;
  • lead counsel for a beneficiary appearing as an interested party in litigation concerning his family trust: McLaughlin v McLaughlin [2021] NZHC 3015; [2018] NZHC 3198 (Beddoe application);    
  • acting for remaining shareholders in an application for summary judgment to enforce an expert determination of the value of company shares, including obtaining an order for the Registrar of the High Court to sign share transfer documents on behalf of the exiting shareholder: Williamson v Smalley [2022] NZHC 1452;
  • acting for a defendant beneficiary resisting “reverse relationship property” proceedings;
  • acting for parents on judicial review of Family Court processes / decisions and the role of lawyer for children, including obtaining an interim stay from the Supreme Court of the underlying Family Court proceeding: Newton v Family Court at Auckland [2022] NZSC 92; [2022] NZSC 112; [2022] NZCA 207; DN & LN v Family Court at Auckland [2020] NZHC 3165.

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