Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) – Otago – 1999

Master of International Relations (Distinction) – Victoria – 2001

Fellow (awarded Sir Ronald Davison Award) – Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand – 2018


Polly is a highly regarded commercial litigator and dispute resolution specialist. Polly joined the independent bar after over a decade as partner at preeminent law firm Russell McVeagh, including a term as Chair of the Partnership.  

Polly has expertise in commercial, insolvency, construction, and financial regulatory enforcement disputes and investigations. Polly has been trusted to solve complex problems for clients including listed companies, banks, insolvency practitioners, and public entities. Through Bankside’s presence in Singapore, Polly can assist New Zealand companies to pursue international arbitration to resolve disputes. Polly also conducts New Zealand disputes work instructed by overseas law firms, companies and family offices.

Polly is recognised by Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific 2023 and 2024 for both Dispute Resolution and Restructuring and Insolvency. One client quoted by Chambers and Partners describes her technical ability as “second to none”, and her ability to distill the complex into the easy to digest as “unparalleled”: “In Polly, you know you have a lawyer that is your best chance of getting a good outcome”. Polly is recognised a 'Litigation Star' by Benchmark Litigation and won ‘Best in Restructuring and Insolvency’ at the 2021 Asia Women in Business Law Awards.  

Polly became a Fellow of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2018. She was awarded the Sir Ronald Davison Award for excellence in arbitral award writing. She has subsequently been appointed to the Arbitration Panels of the New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre and of AMINZ. She was recently appointed to AMINZ’s Arbitration Appeals Tribunal. In 2023 she completed Pepperdine University’s acclaimed ‘Mediating the Litigated Case’ course.

Polly co-founded Women in Restructuring and Insolvency. She is a member of the faculty of NZLS CLE’s Litigation Skills Course. 

Case Highlights

Commercial litigation

  • Instructed by banks and listed companies to pursue or defend contractual disputes, claims in negligence, class actions, M&A disputes, indemnity claims, claims under consumer legislation and judicial review. 
  • Notable recent successes include obtaining successive court judgments in a shareholder dispute.

Insolvency and restructuring

  • Acting for the receivers, voluntary administrators and liquidators in high-profile corporate insolvency and restructurings across financial services, oil and gas, primary production, construction and retail sectors.
  • Notable instructions include acting for the board of directors of an infrastructure company in a successful restructuring by voluntary administration.


  • Acting for principals, contractors, and subcontractors in pursuing, defending and resolving construction disputes.
  • Notable strategic successes include resolving ‘in project’ disputes in a domestic mega project; a successful maritime construction arbitration claim; and using adjudication and mediation to reverse a multimillion dollar claim against her client.

Financial regulatory enforcement

  • Defending and resolving investigations and enforcement steps by financial and securities regulators.  Polly has advised on and assisted to resolve sensitive inquiries on subject matters including anti-money laundering, alleged market manipulation, securities trading, credit contracts, sanctions, overseas investment, licensing, conduct, financial advice and fair dealing.  
  • Notable instructions include acting for an insurer in one of the first proceedings brought under the fair dealing provisions of the Financial Markets Conduct Act.

What Others Say

Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution, Band 2, 2024: "Polly Pope is a highly experienced, Auckland-based disputes practitioner with an impressively varied track record of work in fields as diverse as agribusiness, construction and financial services."

Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific Restructuring and Insolvency, Band 3, 2024: "Polly Pope represents creditors and insolvency practitioners in primarily contentious mandates and is highly regarded for her litigation skills."

Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution, Band 2, 2023: “Her technical ability is second to none, and her ability to distil the complex into the easy to digest is unparalleled. Her manner in tough negotiations is also a real skill. In Polly, you know you have a lawyer that is your best chance of getting a good outcome.”

Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution, 2022: “She is a strong advocate who ensures strong outcomes.“

Legal 500, Restructuring and Insolvency, Leading Individual, 2023

Legal 500, Real Estate and Construction, Leading Individual, 2023

Benchmark Litigation, Litigation Star and Top 100 Women in Litigation - Asia Pacific, 2023


Laura O’Gorman KC (ed), Sims’ Court Practice (LexisNexis) (contributing author) – arbitration, 2016–2023 

Kirsten Massey, Chris Curran and Polly Pope, “Collective Redress and Class Actions – New Zealand” (Chambers and Partners, 2022)

Polly Pope, Sharnika Leleni, and Lily Leishman, “Arbitration and Access to Civil Justice in Aotearoa” ((2021) 27(2) Auckland U L Rev 67)

Anna Crosbie and Polly Pope, “Construction – case law update” (NZLS CLE 2020)

Polly Pope, Emmeline Rushbrook and Kylie Dunn, “New Zealand”, Practitioners’ Guide to Cross Border Investigations (Global Investigations Review, 2020)

Polly Pope and Lauren Lindsay “Confidentiality in Commercial Litigation and Arbitration” (NZLS CLE, 2019)

Polly Pope and Emmeline Rushbrook “Consumer Credit”, Laws of New Zealand (LexisNexis, 2017)

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  • AMINZ – Fellow
  • CIArb – Fellow
  • SCL