LLB, BA – Victoria University – Wellington – 1995

Admitted as a New Zealand Barrister and Solicitor – 1996

Admitted as a Solicitor in England and Wales – 2002


Michael is a highly regarded commercial litigator with extensive experience as senior counsel appearing in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Michael also appears before arbitrators and tribunals and regularly represents clients in mediations.  


He practices across the full range of commercial litigation but has particular expertise in contractual disputes, civil fraud, corporate law, joint venture/fiduciary duties, finance and securities, insolvency, professional negligence, trust and property disputes, and with extensive experience in the primary sector.  


As well as his outstanding advocacy skills, Michael has broad commercial experience and excellent judgment, uniquely combined with his ability to win the trust of his clients and manage the human relationship dynamics of difficult conflicts.


Michael has acted for many corporate clients including StockCo Limited, Farmers Trading Co Limited, Barkers Clothing Limited, Couplands Bakeries Limited, Mudajaya Corporation Berhad, Berkshire Fund III, Trimex PTY Limited (Groupe Clarins), Wanaka Medical Centre Limited, SKP Incorporated, Blue Star Group (New Zealand) Limited, Ford Pastoral Holdings Limited, Grazcare NZ Limited, Westland Milk Products. He has also acted for various private clients in significant High Court proceedings and arbitrations.


Michael graduated from Victoria University of Wellington and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the New Zealand High Court in 1996. He worked as a commercial litigator at Minter Ellison and from 2000 in London at the global firm of Baker & McKenzie, having also been admitted to practise in England and Wales.


Michael returned to New Zealand in late 2004 and from 2007 he was the senior partner heading commercial/civil litigation teams in widely respected commercial law firms. In 2016, Michael established the key Auckland office of top commercial boutique firm, Morrison Mallett, now Morrison Partners. He moved to the independent bar when he joined Bankside Chambers in October 2023.


In addition to Michael’s legal experience, he has played cricket to regional representative level in New Zealand and at premiere club and county (Middlesex) conference level in the UK. Michael retains an involvement in cricket through his chairmanship of the Cornwall Cricket Development Foundation and is also an active and participating sailor at the Wakatere Boating Club on the North Shore in Auckland.


Through his family Michael has an ongoing involvement and close interest in health and disability services, in particular through Starship Children’s Hospital.  

Case Highlights

Green & McCahill Holdings Ltd v Ara Weiti Developments Ltd [2022] NZCA 218 (CA), [2022] NZHC643; [2023] NZHC 919

Acted for respondents in High Court and Court of Appeal in respect of caveats lodged in reliance on constructive trusts by reason of knowing receipt claims based on alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by JV partners. Also acting in substantive related litigation.

StockCo Ltd v The Big Basin Limited [2022] NZHC 1020, [2022] NZHC 3010

Acted for StockCo, the claimant in a two-week arbitration before Hon. Nicholas Davidson KC, succeeding in a debt recovery claim in respect of various financed livestock, involving contractual issues, bailment arguments and issues of estoppel and variation raised by Big Basin. Thereafter successfully opposed applications to the High Court for leave to appeal.

Northlake Investments Ltd v Wanaka Medical Centre Ltd [2019] NZHC 3443

Successfully defended four causes of action regarding a proposed agreement to lease, including equitable estoppel and quantum meruit claims and obtained increased costs award.

Re Farmers Trading Co Ltd[2019] NZHC 2987

Successfully obtained orders under ss 66 and 73 of the Trustee Act 1956 in respect of a trust established in 1927 for company employees and the resettlement of trust assets.

Priest v Ross Asset Management Ltd [2016] NZHC 1803  

Acted for successful plaintiffs in respect of their claims to recover shares held by two companies formerly owned and managed by convicted investment Ponzi scheme fraudster,  Mr. David Ross, involving complex issues as to bare trusts, equitable tracing, competing equities and corporate insolvency.

StockCo Ltd v Gibson [2012]11 NZCLC 98-010; [2012] NZCA 330

Acted for StockCo against receivers of the Crafar Group of companies appointed by Group’s lenders, Westpac, Rabobank and PGG Wrightson, in respect of complex issues as to the correct priority of competing security interests registered over livestock under the Personal Property Securities Act 1999.

What Others Say

Benchmark Litigation 2022 records client feedback for Michael: “Excellent knowledge of corporate law. Pragmatic and strategic thinker.”


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  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • New Zealand Law Society
  • Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association of New Zealand