Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Whether it’s a personal dispute or a business dispute, our team of dispute resolution lawyers can help you come to the most practical solution. By getting to the heart of the dispute and focusing on the real issues, we can identify the best strategy for your individual situation. Our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and as cost effectively as possible, reducing your stress and any disruption to your life or business.

We have had significant success negotiating out of court settlements and using alternative forms of dispute resolution including mediation, settlement conferences and arbitration. Where disputes escalate, our substantial experience in District Courts, The High Court, Family Court, Employment Court, and at the Employment Relations authority will help you achieve a positive outcome. We also regularly appear, or assist clients to appear in the disputes tribunal, the tenancy tribunal, theweathertight homes tribunal and the building disputes tribunal.

Please check out our specialist pages for the following disputes
Estate litigation (challenging a will), family law (child custody, domestic violence and relationship property disputes), employment disputes and debt collection.

 

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Commercial & Civil Disputes

Commercial and Civil disputes can be costly, stressful and time consuming. We focus on the bigger picture, and quickly identify the issues, costs and likely outcomes of each option, providing you with the most cost effective strategy to achieve your goals.

As skilled negotiators, our first approach is to try to resolve disputes out of Court, but when a resolution can’t be reached, we have extensive experience appearing in the District and High Courts.

  • Shareholder disputes
  • Partnership disputes
  • Joint venture disputes
  • Franchise disputes
  • Inland Revenue Disputes
  • Professional negligence
  • Insurance
  • Injunctive relief
  • Joint venture disputes
  • Breach of directors duties
  • Negligence, nuisance and negligent misstatement
  • Defamation
  • Regulatory body prosecutions
  • Judicial review of public bodies decisions that affect business
  • Professional
  • Financial disputes including the Personal Property Securities Act
  • Enforcement of guarantees
  • Competition law and fair trading
  • Breach of contract 
  • Employment Disputes 
  • Intellectual property disputes 

Contract Disputes

 

Contract disputes can range from small misunderstandings through to stressful and expensive liabilities. Our aim is to resolve the conflict as quickly and simply as possible while minimising your liabilities and maximising anything owed to you.

Whether it is a dispute over the enforcement of a contract, or the interpretation of a contract, or if you need advice on how best to terminate a contract, seeking quality advice early on is your best approach to get the best outcome.

Often, conflicts can be simply and quickly addressed by bringing in Smith and Partners as a third party, taking the heat out of the argument between you and your contractual partner. We will  work with you to decide on most effective approach/strategy to use for your particular situation and guide you through the process until the best possible outcome is achieved.

 



 

Property and Land Disputes

With property being such an important aspect of New Zealanders' lives, property disputes are becoming more and more common – whether you are having an issue regarding a boundary, trees or fencing, a dispute over the sale or purchase or property, or you are a commercial landlord or tenant in dispute over your commercial tenancy, our skilled team of dispute resolution specialists can help you come up with the best solution to solve your problem.
Check out our specialist building disputes services for all building and construction disputes 
  • Body corporate disputes
  • Tree disputes
  • Fencing disputes
  • Council disputes
  • Neighbour disputes
  • Boundary disputes
  • Property sale disputes
  • Land title disputes
  • Property Sale & Purchase Disputes
  • Commercial property disputes
  • Caveat matters
  • Shared access disputes
  • Landlord and tenant disputes

Construction & Building Disputes

Our team regularly helps property owners and construction industry professionals – from builders, tradies, sub-contractors through to architects and engineers or developers to quickly and effectively resolve their construction disputes with a focus on practical solutions.

Construction disputes require expertise with the construction industry. You’ll benefit from our thorough understanding of the Building Act, the Construction Contract Act, the Arbitration Act and the Building Code combined with our extensive experience  helping parties on all sides of the construction industry to obtain cost effective outcomes to their disputes.

We can provide advice and help you prepare for matters being heard by Building Disputes Tribunal, including adjudication proceedings under the Construction Contracts Act. We find that we can often quickly resolve construction disputes using the new adjudication process, particularly in relation to payment claims.

Where positive ongoing working relationships are required, our skilled negotiators can help ensure that the final resolution is workable for all parties.

We can help with:

  • Construction Contracts Act Adjudications
  • Arbitration
  • Settlement negotiations
  • Payment claims
  • Payment schedules
  • Contractual issues
  • Contractor disputes
  • Claims by and against sub-contractors
  • Disputes over variations claims
  • Enforcement of awards and judgments
  • Wrongful termination of construction contracts
  • Building defects claims
  • Drafting contracts for remedial works to defective buildings
  • Development delays
  • Liquidated damages and penalties

Trust Litigation Lawyers

The large number of family trusts in New Zealand leads to a large number of disputes over family trusts. Changing trust law, and continuing changes in the ways trusts are treated by the Courts leads to further issues.

Our trust litigation team are experienced is helping parties to resolve disputes over family trusts, and focus on out of court resolution where possible. We regularly act for trustees, beneficiaries and other interested parties who are in dispute over aspects of a family trust.

Family trust disputes are often further complicated by the fact that they are usually family disputes. Where appropriate, our team works collaboratively with all parties in an effort to resolve the dispute, and maintain ongoing relationships. We can help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Our trust litigation team can help you with: 

  • Adding or removing trustees
  • Trustee disputes
  • Beneficiary claims
  • Creditor claims
  • Claims against trust assets
  • Sham / illusory trust claims
  • Relationship property claims
  • Trustee performance disputes
  • Applications to the High Court for directions
  • Breach of trust
  • Issues of entitlement to trust information
  • Challenges to trustee decisions
  • Trustee liability
  • Applications to the court to review actions and decisions of trustees

Intellectual Property Disputes

Our intellectual property dispute team specialises in helping small to medium sized businesses enforce their intellectual property rights, and to defend claims of misuse of others’ intellectual property.

Disputes over business names, logos and designs, copyright or breaches of confidentiality can have a significant impact on your business, our team focus on resolving the dispute efficiently and obtaining the best outcome for you and your business.

Our intellectual property litigation team can help you with: 

  • Trademarks and company names disputes
  • Design disputes
  • Copyright disputes
  • Domain (website) name disputes
  • Confidentiality breaches
  • Licencing disputes

Residential Tenancy Disputes

The Tenancy Tribunal hears all cases related to disputes regarding residential tenancies. While disputes over unpaid rent can be straightforward and are usually handled without the help of a lawyer, more complex disputes can benefit from a strong legal argument. Often we can help settle these disputes before they go to the tenancy tribunal.

If the dispute does go before the tenancy tribunal, we can help you prepare, and in some instances* appear on your behalf. Tribunal Orders are binding, and can represent significant amounts of money, so it is important that the argument presented is based on the law covered in the Residential Tenancies Act, and is supported by strong evidence in your favour.

We can assist you with:

  • Pre-tribunal dispute negotiations
  • Assistance with preparing for mediation
  • Assistance with preparing for Tenancy Tribunal hearings
  • Appear on your behalf at the Tenancy Tribunal where applicable*
  • Residential Tenancies Act breaches
  • Issues arising over non-consented property

*A lawyer may appear on your behalf if the dispute is worth more than $6,000, or if the other party agrees to you having a lawyer, or if they have a lawyer representing them

Disputes Tribunal

The disputes tribunal generally decides on disputes amounting to less than $15,000 (or $20,00 by consent of both parties). While a lawyer cannot be present at the disputes tribunal hearing, judgment is based on the legal argument presented. This means the success of your case can be helped by having a lawyer assist you to prepare your argument (claim or defence) 

For a small upfront payment, we can often help you achieve your desired outcome. We will assess your dispute, and provide assistance in preparing an easy to understand argument for you to present at the tribunal hearing. We can also assist you with understanding the steps in the disputes tribunal process.

Traffic - Limited Licence

We offer a personalised approach to Limited Licence Applications. We will take the time to ensure we fully understand your specific needs and situation so that we can tailor your limited licence application to cover all your requirements.
  • Limited Licence Applications
  • Appearing in Court on your behalf
  • Interlock Licence applications
  • Police Contested Limited Licence Applications

 

Litigation EXPERTS
Carolyn RansonHead
Carolyn Ranson
Partner
p. +64 9 837 6891
Peter SmithHead
Peter Smith
Partner
p. +64 9 837 6882
Ellen HarbidgeHead
Ellen Snedden (nee Harbidge)
Senior Associate
p. +64 9 837 6890
Wendy AlexanderHead
Wendy Alexander
Associate
p. +64 9 837 6844
Alana Kalinowski
Solicitor
p. +64 9 837 6849
diana su tanielu head
Diana Su-Tanielu
Solicitor
p. +64 9 837 6841
marie hansen head
Marie Hansen
Solicitor
pauline clark head
Pauleen Clark
Solicitor
p. +64 9 837 6883