Examples of our recent work
- New Zealand Fire Service V Legg  NZHC 1492
- High Court Christchurch – successful claim against two insurers who rejected liability following a Christchurch fire. Please note, the decision was subject to appeal by one insurer.
- Canterbury couple avoid $200,000 bill for fire
- Representing clients in proceedings against the insurers after the declining of a claim under a public liability policy.
- Negotiating the settlement of multiple earthquake related insurance and EQC claims.
- Successfully acting for a client during an internal review after the declining of a claim against a car insurance policy.
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Tania HutchinsonSenior Associate
After many years as a partner in a Christchurch law firm, Michael chose to live with his family in France in 2002, where he attended the University of Marseille and his children attended College Mignet. On his return, he soon accepted a partnership at Saunders & Co. He quickly assimilated into that role and his loyal client base followed him.
He is on numerous charitable trust boards and in his specialty of adoption, his advice is nationally sought. Michael has been counsel involved in often cited Court of Appeal decisions.
From 2015 Michael stepped down from partnership and into his current role as a consultant/special counsel. As he heads toward retirement, his focus is on mentoring the civil team in conjunction with Partner, Andrew Riches, and ensuring his clients are well looked after, both presently and in the coming years.
Michael is a keen sportsman having played representative cricket and rugby, and now enjoying tennis and golf.
Michael specialises in the following areas:
- Commercial Law
- Employment Law
- Family Law
- Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Property Law
- Relationship Property
- Trust Law
- Wills and Estates
What Michael’s clients say
“My relationship with Michael Kirkland is one that goes well beyond a client/lawyer type, because he has taken such a personal interest in me and my family’s welfare. This relationship started in an unusual manner. I met him in a case I was drawn into beyond my control many years ago when he was on the opposite side. Michael did a great job for his client – to my detriment, and upon it’s conclusion, he came to me and said that he was sorry that the case went against me, and if I ever needed his help, he would gladly assist. This was such a generous gesture, that from that time on, I made a mental note to contact him if I ever needed to. Some many years later, I took up his offer and called him to help me resolve some legal issues, and a rapport commenced ever since to the point that we have become firm friends.
Although he specialises in litigation, Michael does more than that. He is always ready to give advice on legal or financial matters – both in my personal and business affairs. He takes matters very personally, and extends himself well beyond normal working hours: I know this because he would not hesitate to call me at any time of the day or night, and on weekends – even to the point of tracking me down when I am overseas if he felt it imperative to discuss important issues. In return, I know that I can call him at any time too, and whenever I find myself passing through Christchurch, he offers his cottage for the night.
The fact that Michael is an excellent lawyer goes without saying. He is a true professional and his dedication is impressive. A feature of his preparation is that it is always backed up by thorough legal research, and at the same time uses easy to understand layman terms by adopting logical analogies to explain his point. Michael is also very willing to call on his colleagues at Saunders & Co who have their own expertise in both law and life experience, to assist in legal interpretations. This has resulted in other disciplines in the firm undertaking tasks for my business interests and me.
In essence, if anybody is in need of an excellent dedicated lawyer, and one who is also prepared to become personally involved in their legal affairs, I would recommend Michael Kirkland and his law firm Saunders & Co.”
Fred van Brandenburg – Principal
Architects van Brandenburg, Lake Hayes Queenstown
“During our first dealings with Michael Kirkland of Saunders & Co, in 1994, he gave us some sound advice relating to design responsibility involved with a construction contract which saved us a considerable sum of money. Since then Michael has assisted us with all legal issues associated with my business and personal affairs. It is always pleasant to deal with Michael and the staff at Saunders & Co and, as well as the legal advice, I value Michael’s opinions on more general business matters based on his long experience.”
Peter Davies – Director, Dawn Group, Christchurch
“We have now been a client of Michael Kirkland and Saunders & Co since 2002. During this time our business has enjoyed good growth periods and more recently had to retrench as the current recession has made trading difficult. We employ over 100 people, running a garment manufacturing unit, a wholesale distribution centre, and a retail business of 17 company owned stores. We have used the professional advice of Saunders & Co regularly for contract support with leases, and less regularly for:
- management of personal affairs and the integration to the business
- bank documentation support
- purchase of property agreement negotiations
- employment agreement disputes
We enjoy working with Michael because we value his opinion, and the professional support his partners and consultants give him. We regularly use Peter Wood, a consultant of the firm, for support of lease negotiations. Michael is fair and honest in his assessment of the situation, often giving advice on how to minimize a dispute. We have always found Michael compassionate to the situation of both parties, but prepared to ensure our interests are protected when negotiating. Saunders & Co have always given good advice and been prepared to stand by that advice. We value our relationship with them. Without their support as our legal team, we would not have grown, or weathered the recession as well as we have.”
Don Symon – Managing Director, Kauri Clothing – Home of Wild South Clothing, Christchurch
Nicola joined Saunders & Co in 2012 soon after her arrival from the UK . She became a partner in 2017. She enjoys leading the Ferrymead office with its broad general practice and family-focused culture.
Clients benefit from the smaller office environment. Although most matters are handled within the Ferrymead office, additional expertise from the firm’s corporate office can be accessed if required.
Property and commercial matters make up a large part of Nicola’s portfolio, which could include anything from the sale and purchase of homes, commercial buildings and businesses, to leasing, and refinancing. She also assists clients with personal asset planning, trusts, wills and estates, and continues to handle a smaller amount of insurance and earthquake related work.
Clients appreciate Nicola’s positive, genuine approach, prompt efficient service, pragmatic advice and the time she takes to understand their needs. She is focused on clearly explaining every step of the process.
Building strong links to local communities in the east of the city and the seaside suburbs is important to Nicola, with the Ferrymead office assisting a number of community groups and trusts.
When she is not putting in long hours at work, Nicola enjoys getting into the outdoors with her husband. Travelling is another interest, and the couple tries to visit family in the UK regularly.
Nicola specialises in the following areas:
- Property Law
- Commercial Law
- Relationship Property
- Wills and Estates
- Trust Law
- Insurance and Earthquake Related Law
What Nicola’s clients say
“I am writing to acknowledge the superior service we were afforded by Nicola and her team at Saunders & Co Ferrymead. Having worked with and against a number of lawyers in my career, it was a delight to finally find a team who knew their business, executed it with diligence and aplomb while never losing their sense of humor or the human touch. We were singularly impressed with Nicola’s knowledge, experience and compassion. Never once did we suffer condescension, were we treated as numpties or made to feel we were wasting a professional’s time. Nothing was too much trouble and our angst and anxiety were met with concern and genuine understanding. This is an associate, backed by a team, in which Saunders & Co can have confidence and pride..”
Robert Nimmo Christchurch
Tania was admitted to the bar in early 2010. She joined the civil team at Saunders & Co as a Senior Associate in April 2017 and is a litigation specialist with a focus on construction and insurance law, civil matters, debt recovery, and the resolution of general commercial disputes.
Providing comprehensive advice to clients in the construction industry around their obligations under building and construction law and legislation is a specialist focus for Tania. She regularly assists clients with matters such as contractual breaches, defective building work and materials claims, as well as pursuing claims under the Construction Contracts Act 2002 and other legislation.
Tania is also highly experienced when it comes to providing advocacy, negotiation, and settlement of disputed residential and commercial insurance claims in Christchurch’s post-earthquake environment.
Clients appreciate Tania’s practical approach and ability to give frank, straightforward guidance. As well as helping clients to work through disputes, she likes to provide them with a working knowledge of the tools available to help avoid similar disputes in the future.
Outside the office, Tania enjoys the outdoors, spending time with family and friends, food, wine, and travelling abroad. With a busy family in tow, Tania has developed a keen interest in being a tourist in and around New Zealand.
Tania is a member of the Society of Construction Law New Zealand Inc., Canterbury Women’s Legal Association (CWLA), and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).
Tania specialises in the following areas:
What Tania’s Clients Say
“Thank you Tania for all your support on my claims this year. You have been so lovely to deal with. I really appreciate that you always returned my phone calls promptly, you thoroughly explained everything to me as we worked through the processes and of course achieved a great outcome. Your integrity and professionalism are greatly appreciated.”
“I have been working with Tania Hutchinson since May 2017. Tania has been assisting myself and the owners of a 12 unit mixed-use unit title property to resolve their earthquake insurance claim. Tania has been tremendously helpful in guiding us to reach a long awaited satisfactory settlement and ensured that the owners received their full entitlements under the policy that was applicable. She is continuing to assist the owners by providing advice in regards to the path forward post settlement as there are a number of options now available to the owners.
I have been fortunate to be able to introduce Tania to another of my clients recently. Tania is working with this residential body corporate with the aim to get their claim settled as soon as possible and give the owners the opportunity to move forward.
Tania is pragmatic, knowledgeable, professional and a pleasure to work with. I would be more than happy to recommend her and to work with her again.”
“We first met Tania in early 2017 regarding a payment dispute we were having with another contractor. Tania was nothing less than amazing giving us understandable advice and providing resolutions for our situation. She quickly got to the bottom of our case and spent about 3 to 4 months helping achieve the best outcome. As a young business owner I could not have asked for anything more from Tania as she took our concerns on board and gave us every reassurance that we were doing the right thing. I would most definitely seek help from Tania again if any issues arise in the future.”
Harley and Renee Haywood, Utilities Infrastructure NZ Ltd
Violeta joined the Litigation team at Saunders & Co in October 2018 after working in the litigation team at Inland Revenue. Prior to Inland Revenue, Violeta held positions with the Crown Law Office and the Intellectual Property Department of the Hong Kong Government.
Violeta enjoys all aspects of litigation, having appeared in District and High Courts around New Zealand as well as the Court of Appeal. She has prior experience in commercial, tax, public and intellectual property law. Violeta works closely with Partner, Andrew Riches and Senior Associate, Tania Hutchinson in a wide range of matters, from Construction and Insurance Law, to Criminal and Employment Law.
Providing excellent results in an effective and efficient manner is very important to Violeta. She takes careful consideration to explain legal intricacies and processes to her clients to ensure confidence going forward with their matters.
Outside of the office, Violeta enjoys the odd tennis match or round of golf. Violeta is also an avid traveller, having traversed Europe, the United States, Asia, the Middle East and New Zealand. She also enjoys painting, theatre, and visiting art galleries all over the world.
Violeta specialises in the following areas of law: