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Peter Watts joined Bankside Chambers on a fulltime basis in 2017, 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 for cases in the England and Wales Court of Appeal and several times in the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

Education

  • LLB (Hons) – University of Canterbury, 1980
  • LLM – University of Cambridge, 1982
  • FRSNZ , 2014

Bio

Peter Watts joined Bankside Chambers on a fulltime basis in 2017, 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 for cases in the England and Wales Court of Appeal and several times in the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

Peter is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (Te Apārangi).


Peter has broad expertise in commercial law, including agency law, company law, contract law, equity and trusts, the law of restitution, and insolvency law. He is available to act in all these areas, either as counsel or arbitrator. In particular, Peter 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.

Work Highlights

Re Cryptopia Ltd [2020] NZHC 728

Acted as lead counsel for c860,000 account-holders in liquidation of cryptocurrency exchange with assets of cNZ$170 million. First contested case in Commonwealth on property status of cryptocurrencies. Trust status upheld.

 

Redwood Group Ltd v Queenstown Gateway (5M) Ltd [2018] NZHC 3439

Counsel for 4th defendant in procedural hearing on various aspects of privilege, discovery, joinder, and security for costs.


Stiassny v Commissioner of Inland Revenue [2013] 1 NZLR 453 (SC)

Counsel team in NZ Supreme Court on issues of restitution law.


Dunhill v Burgin [2014] UKSC 18

Advice in UK Supreme Court appeal on mental incapacity of principal when instructing barrister in respect of settlement agreement.


Singularis Holdings Ltd v Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Ltd [2019] UKSC 50

Advice in UK Supreme Court appeal on attribution of director’s knowledge and acts to companies.


Eze v Conway [2019] EWCA Civ 88

Advice in England and Wales CA case on fiduciary status of an introducer.

 

What Others Say

Lord Toulson and Lord Hodge in Bilta (UK) Ltd (in liq) v Nazir [2015] UKSC 23, [2016] AC 1 at [159]: “We have been greatly helped by the analysis provided by Professor Watts in a characteristically lucid article, Illegality and Agency Law: Authorising Illegal Action [2011] JBL 213.”


Lord Kitchin in East Asia Co Ltd v PT Satria [2019] UKPC 30 at [85]: “The reasoning in the Akai case has been the subject of strong criticism, however: Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency (21st edn, 2017) paras 8–49 to 8–50; P Watts, ‘Some Wear and Tear on Armagas v Mundogas—The Tension between Having and Wanting in the Law of Agency’ (2015) 1 LMCLQ 36, 48–56. In the Board’s respectful view, much of that criticism has considerable force.”


Publications

  • P Watts (Gen ed) and FMB Reynolds, Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency (21st ed, Sweet & Maxwell, 2018).

  • P Watts, N Campbell and C Hare Company Law in New Zealand (2nd ed, LexisNexis, 2016)

  • P Watts "Debut Homes in the Supreme Court—a Product of the Vicarage?” [2020] Company and Securities Law Bulletin 107.

  • P Watts “Silence and solidarity?—the duties of individual directors minded to speak out about their board’s decision-making and governance” in C Mitchell and S Watterson (eds) The World of Maritime and Commercial Law (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2020) 345-365

  • P Watts “The Release Fee as a Remedy for Breach of Contract—the Judgment of Elias J in Cash Handling in the Light of Morris-Garner” in S Mount and M Harris (eds) The Promise of Law—Essays Marking the Retirement of Dame Sian Elias

  • P Watts “Forfeiture of Agents’ Remuneration” in P Devonshire and R Havelock (eds) Impact of Equity and Restitution in Commerce (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2018) chapter 10, 203-226.

  • P Watts, “Directors as Agents—Some Aspects of Disputed Territory” in D Busch, L Macgregor, and P Watts (eds) Agency Law in Commercial Practice (OUP, Oxford, 2016), 97-117.

  • P Watts “The Acts and States of Knowledge of Agents as Factors in Principals’ Restitutionary Liability” [2017] Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly 385-411.

Memberships

  • Fountain Court Chambers, London, England (Door tenant)
  • AMINZ
  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • New Zealand Law Society
  • Royal Society of New Zealand (Te Apārangi) (Fellow)