Kelly practised in Hong Kong for nine years prior to joining Bankside Chambers.


  • BA (Philosophy) – University of Auckland, 1989
  • LLB – University of Auckland, 1993
  • LLM – University of Auckland, 2008


Admitted to the bar in 1993, Kelly’s career included several years in the Construction and Energy team at Simpson Grierson, followed by a stint as a Crown Prosecutor during which he prosecuted over 50 criminal jury trials. He then practised in Hong Kong for nine years including five years in the litigation and arbitration team at Linklaters.

Construction Law

Kelly is a leading construction litigator. He has acted for subcontractors, contractors and principals in matters involving a very wide range of construction law issues including claims for disputed variations and extensions of time, claims for prolongation and/or disruption, defects and warranty claims, wrongful termination of contracts, claims for liquidated damages, professional negligence claims against architects and engineers, and the enforcement/defence of claims under performance bonds. He is familiar with the main domestic and international standard form construction contracts and regularly represents clients bringing or defending claims under the Construction Contracts Act 2002. Kelly has represented clients in construction disputes involving projects in Hong Kong, India, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and New Zealand.

Commercial Litigation

Kelly’s general commercial litigation experience has included franchise disputes, shareholder and joint venture disputes, contentious receiverships, disputes concerning the sale and purchase of property and businesses, lease disputes, insurance claims, leaky buildings and a wide variety of contractual disputes generally. He is regularly instructed on injunctions.

Case Highlights

Southern Response Class Action

Obtaining the first opt-out order in New Zealand (in the Court of Appeal) for a class action involving more than 3,000 homeowners whose properties were destroyed or badly damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes. Recently appeared in the Supreme Court on the same matter (judgment pending). Ross v Southern Response Services Ltd [2019] NZCA 431.

Quantum Meruit

Obtaining judgment for Electrix Ltd against Fletcher Construction, following a four week trial, in a rare case alleging quantum meruit arising out of the construction of the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct. Judgment worth over $10m including interest and costs. Electrix Ltd v The Fletcher Construction Company Ltd [2020] NZHC 918.

What Others Say

Doyles Leading Construction & Infrastructure Law Barristers. Ranked as “Leading – Junior Counsel”, 2019


  • “The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker – just let them get on with it” [2020] NZLJ 187

  • “Suspension of construction contracts in the time of COVID-19” [2020] NZLJ 144

  • “Liquidated damages in long-term relational contracts” [2017] NZLJ 256


  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • New Zealand Law Society
  • AMINZ (Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand)
  • Society of Construction Law