Christchurch: CBD – (03) 379 7690 | Ferrymead – (03) 940 2435 | Hornby – (03) 349 5111

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

If you are facing a dispute, whether commercial or private, our skilled litigation and disputes resolution team aim to work with you to achieve the most favourable outcome. At the outset we advise on the most appropriate options to resolve the dispute, with a mind to achieving a cost effective solution.

Our team is experienced in the use of alternative dispute resolution including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. However, when litigation is the only option, we are experienced over a broad range of matters in the various Tribunals, the District Court, Employment Court, Environment Court, Family Court, High Court, and Court of Appeal.

External links to further information

New Zealand Law Society publications:

We regularly act on disputes involving:

  • Mediations and arbitrations
  • Contractual disputes
  • Commercial disputes
  • Debt recovery and insolvency
  • Relationship property and family law
  • Insurance
  • Judicial review
  • Claims in tort, including negligence
  • Trust and estate litigation
  • Employment
  • Professional body disciplinary action
  • Criminal law
  • Intellectual property

Examples of our recent work

  • Christchurch District Court (decision 22 November 2016): Successful claim against a defendant denying liability under a contractual arrangement for the division of profits between business partners.
  • Successfully defending an application for summary judgment brought against a guarantor under a loan agreement in UDC Finance Limited v Rout [2015] NZHC 212.
  • Representing several clients in Adjudication under the Construction Contracts Act 2002.
  • Successfully arguing for unequal division of relationship property Mauger v Mauger [2015] NZFC 570.
  • Successfully liquidating high profile Christchurch construction company Williams & Co Ltd.
  • Representing an engineer through the IPENZ complaints process arising from the Canterbury Earthquakes.
  • Obtaining an urgent freezing order over bank accounts in a relationship property dispute in Johnson v Watling, CIV-2012-409-1425, Christchurch High Court, 13 July 2012.
  • Successfully making application for summary judgment to recall letters of administration in Lee v Archer [2012] NZHC 3308.

Get further advice from

Andrew Riches

Partner

Direct dial: +64-3-963 1457
Mobile: 021 982 115
E-mail: andrew.riches@saunders.co.nz
Assistant: Donna Lake

Andrew is a litigation specialist who joined Saunders & Co in early 2008 and became a partner in 2015.

He undertakes a wide variety of civil work in the District and High Court jurisdictions, and is also well versed in employment and criminal law. He has appeared as lead counsel in the Court of Appeal on civil and criminal appeals and appears regularly in the District and High Courts on these matters. He has acted for Financial Service Providers in the High Court on appeals against decisions of the Financial Markets Authority as well as successfully advancing negligence claims and claims against insurers.

Andrew is known for dealing with disputes in an upfront, open manner and not sugar-coating his approach. Depending on circumstances, he will either negotiate a practical solution for the client, or refer their problem to be resolved in court.

Andrew enjoys all aspects of this process, from researching and developing an argument around a case, to court work, which gets him out of the office and challenges him to think on his feet. Clients appreciate the guidance and reassurance provided by Andrew during what can be a complex and challenging process, when emotions sometimes run high. He is not afraid to tackle heated disputes should they arise.

Andrew is a Member of the Law Council of the Canterbury branch of the New Zealand Law society and Trustee of the St Albans Shirley Club.

In his spare time he enjoys spending time outdoors, researching his family history and running, completing his first half marathon in 2016. However most of Andrew’s time outside the office is focused on his wife and young daughter.

Andrew specialises in the following areas:

What Andrew’s clients say

“I shall feel honoured if you would consider my remarks regarding Andrew Riches, worthy for something. No doubt, Andrew Riches is a brilliant asset for Saunders & Co. I have lived in the USA and Canada for more that 20 years and have had an opportunity to meet lawyers in Christchurch and abroad but this young man looked to me way ahead of his age, and he is outstanding when comparing him with other lawyers in this small city. His approach and intelligence, his demeanour at this age, is bewildering. I am a very international person so please do not take my remarks for granted, you will see it to be true, he will be a big name soon in this city. I wish him a good future.”
Muhammad Ashraf Christchurch

Cherry Mo

Lawyer

Direct dial: +64 3 265 0312
Mobile: 022 589 7224
E-mail: cherry.mo@saunders.co.nz

Cherry joined the litigation team at Saunders & Co in 2017 shortly after completing a degree in Master of Laws (with honours). Cherry now assists the team at Saunders with an array of litigation issues including matters relating to criminal law, family law, relationship property and employment law.

She endeavours to preserve the human aspect in all litigation matters by listening and maintaining meaningful interactions with her clients to get to the root of any problem. Cherry then takes a pragmatic approach in finding practical solutions to difficult problems. The skills developed during her Masters degree have ensured Cherry is accomplished in researching and analysing lengthy and complex law, efficiently and productively.

Cherry has been in New Zealand since her early years at kindergarten. She is able to converse in Mandarin and Cantonese and her cultural background means she can easily understand and adapt to different commercial situations or different ways of conducting business.

Cherry is an active member of the New Zealand Chinese Association and enjoys organising social and professional networking events for the Canterbury Chinese Young Professionals group. She is also an avid volunteer at the Community Law Centre.

In her spare time, Cherry likes tramping/hiking, playing tennis and spending time with her family. It is Cherry’s goal to travel overseas every year or two. So far, she has visited France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxembourg, England, China, Indonesia and Japan.

Cherry specialises in the following areas of law:

Michael Kirkland

Consultant

Direct Dial: +64 3 963 1455
Mobile: 021 0285 1682
E-mail: michael.kirkland@saunders.co.nz

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:

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

Peter Tatham

Consultant

Direct Dial: +64 3 265 0915
Mobile 027 448 6336
E-mail: peter.tatham@saunders.co.nz
Assistant: Jennifer Whitbread

Peter is a consultant who joined Saunders & Co in 2013, from Franklin Law in Pukekohe where he was a Senior Solicitor practising as a civil and family court lawyer and head of the estates administration team.

Based at our Hornby office, Peter has an extensive general practice with an emphasis on estate administration and litigation, relationship property agreements and litigation, wills, enduring powers of attorney, and residential property conveyancing. He also has significant experience in rural legal matters, in particular, the dairying and chicken farming industries.

With a relaxed, friendly approach, Peter relates to a wide range of people, and is able to help individuals to solve any legal issues they may face. Relationship property makes up around half of Peter’s practice. He is known for being calm and pragmatic as he helps clients navigate what can be emotionally-charged situations.

Peter is well organised, likes to keep a tidy office, and enjoys using technology to communicate with his clients.

Outside of the office, Peter likes to keep up with world affairs, and each day reads international newspapers and journals on the bus to and from work. He also enjoys spending time with his German Shepherd dog, spending time tramping in the great outdoors, has held management and administration roles in football (both at club and regional level), and regularly writes poetry.

Peter specialises in the following areas:

What Peter’s clients say

“I am so pleased that I chose Saunders & Co for all my legal requirements. I have found that they are very professional and a pleasure to deal with.”
Marie Hansen

“The team that assisted me during my relationship split, proved to be professional and went above and beyond to assist me. They made the process as simple as they possible could, they also showed empathy during a very stressful time.”
Logan Gianelly

We would just like to thank you for all your assistance in the whole process of buying our first home. It was not smooth but with your help it was made easy. We’d be very happy to recommend you to family and friends in the future. We will be in touch if we need your service again.”
Dennis Demanawa and Marie Bulaong

“We were very pleased with Peter’s help in understanding our options and are pleased to now have a local Hornby contact for legal advice in the area of commercial debt recovery. We appreciated his prompt attention to questions and advice.”
Heather Ruddle, Prestige Commercial Vehicles

“Thank you to both of you Peter and Jennifer, for the sensitive way in which you managed to navigate our issues. I acknowledge you were often placed in an uncompromising position needing to deal with our emotional frustrations and sometimes angry outbursts. With your patient guidance and understanding we have now reached an amicable outcome.”
R Naida Glavish ONZM JP, Co-Chair Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua

Tania Hutchinson

Senior Associate

Direct dial: +64 3 966 7706
Mobile: 022 628 1302
E-mail: tania.hutchinson@saunders.co.nz

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.”
Rebecca Fraher

“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.”
Stephanie Byrne

“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

Virginia Nichols

Senior Associate

Direct Dial: +64 3 963 1463
Mobile: +64 27 449 8893
E-mail: virginia.nichols@saunders.co.nz
Assistant: Michaela Combe

Virginia is a lawyer, a Registered New Zealand and Australian Patent Attorney, and a Registered Australian Trade Mark Attorney. She joined Saunders & Co in 2015, bringing over 10 years’ experience as a patent attorney and IP specialist to the firm.

Virginia advises local clients on all aspects of intellectual property, from simple matters such as protecting a company name, to the complexities of protection of designs, brands and ideas, through copyright, trademarks, and patents. If disputes arise, she has the litigation experience to identify and pursue a range of commercially realistic solutions

International clients are provided with registration and maintenance of their IP rights in New Zealand and Australia, and the support of our full commercial and litigation teams in developing their business interests in New Zealand and enforcing their rights here.

She also assists other members of the Saunders & Co team with intellectual property issues arising in the commercial context, for example during the sale and purchase of a business, franchise or distribution agreement; and undertakes civil litigation work in the District Court and High Court.

Providing clients with clear communication and regular updates throughout what can be a complex and unfamiliar process is a key aspect of Virginia’s personable approach.

Virginia enjoys learning how things work, identifying and resolving issues. Her technical background is evidenced by her BSc(Hons) in Physics and ME(Elec) from the University of Canterbury. Her post-graduate work was in the Nanostructure Engineering Science and Technology (NEST) group, focussing on the fabrication and characterisation of wide band-gap semiconductors, particularly Gallium Nitride, which was one of the first materials used to make blue LEDs, and can be used to make UV detectors.

Outside of work, Virginia enjoys hiking, singing, reading, and spending time with her family.

Virginia specialises in the following areas:

Read articles written by Virginia:

What Virginia’s Clients Say

“Welhaus engaged Virginia Nichols of Saunders & Co to work on a case where we argued another party couldn’t monopolise a generic name for a process. From the outset, Virginia’s confidence, decisiveness and expertise in the field were evident and she quickly presented us with some good, clear options for moving forward. We appreciated her evidence-based approach, specific knowledge of the subject and willingness to dig deeper into the matter. This greatly helped our decision-making process and resulted in a speedy conclusion, achieved in just a few days. The process even proved inexpensive given Virginia’s efficiency. The experience of dealing with Virginia and Saunders & Co was refreshing and I have no hesitation in recommending them to others.”
Dan Tremewan, Welhaus

“I’d like to take this opportunity to personally recommend Virginia Nichols, currently a Senior Associate with the Christchurch legal firm Saunders & Co. It must be said that Virginia is a unique and special person. She is not only skilled and very capable at her craft – but better still she actually listens to the client, finds out their total requirements and then efficiently moulds their needs into a strong legal format. Importantly she is not afraid to advise her clients where she believes an aspect of their demands may be unreasonable or inappropriate, doing so with caring and a gentle yet firm approach. Virginia sees herself as a regular down to earth individual with a burn to help others and make a difference. She truly does that in spades!”
Bill Rodger 

Locations:

CBD: 131 Victoria Street, Christchurch, NZ

Ferrymead: Unit 2, 987 Ferry Road, Christchurch, NZ

Hornby: 5 Goulding Avenue, Christchurch, NZ

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