Brett is a Senior Partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team at Hesketh Henry.
He began work with Wilson Henry (one of Hesketh Henry’s constituent firms) in 1984 and became a partner in 1989. He previously worked as a solicitor with Lusk Willis & Co (later Willis Toomey Robinson - Crown Solicitors) in Napier, having begun his legal career with the Justice Department engaged on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Conviction of Arthur Allan Thomas.
Since being admitted to the Bar in 1981, Brett has practised exclusively as a litigator, mainly in the area of civil disputes. However in over 30 years of practise Brett has acted and provided advice in virtually all areas of law where clients require representation in contentious matters.
His experience as lead counsel in complex and often high value litigation problems typically associated with property, construction, commercial, corporate and transactional work complements his special interest and capabilities in insurance.
Brett’s insurance practice includes cover advice and representation across a wide range of matters, and particularly includes professional indemnity claims involving solicitors, accountants, auditors, engineers, quantity surveyors, project managers and other professionals. He acts for onshore and offshore insurers, brokers and insured – and uninsured – parties, both as claimants and defendants.
He also has a special interest in private and charitable trusts and has appeared as counsel in a number of significant cases in this area.
Brett is an experienced and effective advocate in the Courts at all levels, in mediations, arbitrations, and other forms of dispute resolution. Brett enjoys being able to apply his skills and the depth of his legal experience to benefit his clients. His objective is to achieve outcomes that are commercially commensurate with the cost and significance to his clients of the matter in issue. He strongly believes that while good and technically accurate legal advice is important, an effective lawyer must couple that with tactical and strategic insight, an understanding of client concerns and objectives and, above all, sound judgment to deliver results.
Examples of work
- Advising Lloyd's syndicates in respect of several claims under mortgage indemnity and impairment policies brought by several New Zealand finance companies or their receivers/liquidators.
- Numerous cases acting for and against solicitors in relation to all areas of solicitors’ work, including property, commercial and company transactions, litigation advice and conduct, breach of professional, ethical, statutory and other duties and advice and representation in relation to complaints/disciplinary inquiries.
- Acting for accountants and auditors in relation to negligence claims, including policy cover issues.
- Successfully defending New Zealand resident director and accountants in claims arising from failure of a Lloyds broking firm (and related action against insurers).
- Successfully arguing novel joinder of a corporate trustee (appointed under Securities Act) to proceedings arising from post – GFC failure of finance company.
- Defending an insured in one of New Zealand’s largest leaky building claims (a long running complex multi-party action eventually settled after a three day Judicial Settlement Conference followed by a two day Mediation with no payment/contribution to the settlement by the insured).
- Acting for one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies prosecuting and defending several multi-million dollar claims involving complex design, engineering and construction issues (including co-ordinating and directing the multi-discipline and cross-border teams of advisors and experts).
- Advising insured parties in respect of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Canterbury Earthquake and the Pike River Coalmine explosion.
- Prosecuting and defending negligence claims (and related policy cover issues) across a range of professional disciplines, including engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and project managers.
- Acting in relation to Commerce Commission investigations and prosecutions, including for NZX listed company into foreign exchange fees on credit cards, and an international carrier in relation to air cargo cartel investigations.
- Acting in various private arbitrations, including two related High Court judgments successfully arguing scope of Arbitrators’ powers.
- Acting for and advising private and charitable trusts in both contentious and non-contentious matters, including the successful parties in the High Court and leading Court of Appeal judgment on the variation of charitable trusts - McElroy Trust v Objectors.
- Acting in High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings seeking relief under the Unit Titles Act arising from extensive water-related damage to multi-building, multi-story complex in Auckland CBD with mixed commercial, retail and residential use.
- Acting in misrepresentation and Fair Trading Act claims where liability was established but successfully defending the claims at trial on measure of loss arguments.
- Successfully defending insured contractors in a multi-million dollar stock damage claim arising from failure of a cool store plant.
- Successfully resisting novel claims for Copyright Act infringements in relation to the commercial use of artistic works in a public place and moral rights claims, including the only New Zealand High Court judgment in this area - Radford v Hallenstein Bros Ltd.