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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Chapman Tripp

01 March 2017

The only New Zealand firm to make the 100

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 2
Value of pending counsel work US$892 million
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (of which 1 is as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

Chapman Tripp entered the GAR 100 for the first time in 2015. Founded in 1875, only a couple of decades after New Zealand itself, the firm has a growing arbitration practice operating out of Wellington and Auckland.

The arbitration practice has grown in response to the growth of trade and investment relations between New Zealand and international partners. It focuses on the Asia-Pacific region and has handled disputes relating to corporate governance, fraud, oil and resource projects, tech and telecoms, private equity and institutional investment.

The practice is led by Wellington-based partner Daniel Kalderimis, who returned to the firm in 2009 after four years as a senior associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London and New York. Kalderimis is New Zealand’s representative to the ICC commission on arbitration and its national correspondent to the UN for the New York Convention and UNCITRAL Model Law. He is also the co-author of a guide to the ICSID Convention and Arbitration Rules and part of the steering committee for the International Bar Association’s under-40 group.

Other names to know include Bruce Scott in Wellington and John McKay in Auckland.

Who uses it?

Clients include the local subsidiary of Rio Tinto; MasterCard, Australia’s Leighton Contractors; and New Zealand utilities’ company Vector, which it successfully represented over entitlements to the country’s oldest gas field. According to press reports, the firm is advising the Motion Picture Association of America in its high-profile civil copyright claim against internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom over file uploading services.

It is also advising the World Bank on foreign policy and investment reform in relation to nine Pacific Island jurisdictions, as well as the New Zealand International Business Forum and the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research in connection with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Chapman Tripp has acted for Singapore’s STP Energy in an ICC case in London against US oil exploration company Discovery Geo over the rights to offshore petroleum reserves. The firm previously defended STP in two consolidated ICC claims with the oil company – settling one of them before the hearing. It has also acted in related injunction proceedings in the New Zealand courts.

Track record

The firm helped a unit of Rio Tinto settle a dispute with New Zealand utility Meridian Energy over an aluminium smelter in 2010.  

Two years later, the firm paired up with Dentons’ legacy firm Salans to advise on part of a US$75 million ICSID claim against Indonesia – thought to be the first investment treaty arbitration heard in New Zealand. The firm helped British banking investor Rafat Ali Rizvi defeat an application by Indonesia to have the claim summarily dismissed but wasn’t involved in later phases of the case, which saw Rizvi’s claims dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

Also in 2012, the firm helped New Zealand steel company BlueScope win a significant award against Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings and defend the award in the New Zealand courts.

Recent events

The group’s most high-profile work continues to be its defence of New Zealand’s largest company, dairy supplier Fonterra, in a claim brought by France’s Danone over lost sales of baby milk during a botulism health scare.

It is also representing an agriculture and forestry investor in a potential ICSID claim against East Timor. The client is currently seeking third-party funding for the case.

The firm has recently hired Tracey Epps, a former senior trade law adviser in New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who was involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

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