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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Chapman Tripp

05 April 2019

Represented dairy cooperative Fonterra in a billion-dollar arbitration relating to a botulism scare

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 4
Value of pending counsel work US$1.2 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (1 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

Chapman Tripp is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most highly regarded law firms, with 60 partners across three offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The 11-strong arbitration team 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 sits as arbitrator and is a fellow of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand. He is also co-author of a guide to the ICSID Convention and Arbitration Rules.

Other names to know are Bruce Scott and Tracey Epps in Wellington and John McKay in Auckland. Epps is a former trade law adviser in the New Zealand government who was involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Who uses it?

The firm’s blue-chip clients include Amazon, AT&T, Bayer AG, Chevron Texaco, HSBC, Japan Airlines, MasterCard, Microsoft, Puma, Rio Tinto, Samsung, Shell and Starbucks.

New Zealand’s largest company, dairy cooperative Fonterra, has turned to the firm for a high-stakes arbitration (see below). Other clients to have used the litigation team include New Zealand’s largest bank, ANZ, real estate company Bayleys and the government of Kazakhstan.

According to press reports, the firm has been advising the Motion Picture Association of America in its civil copyright claim against internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom over file-uploading services.

It advises 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 on the TPP. It also advises New Zealand state insurance company the Earthquake Commission on litigation arising from damage caused by earthquakes that struck the country in 2010 and 2011, estimated to run into billions of dollars.

Track record

Chapman Tripp defended Fonterra in what is believed to have been New Zealand’s largest international arbitration to date – an UNCITRAL claim reported to be in the region of €1 billion filed by French food company Danone to recover the costs of recalling baby formula after a botulism scare. A Singapore-seated tribunal issued an award in 2017 requiring Fonterra to pay only €105 million, representing a significant reduction on the claim.

The firm was counsel to drilling company Dalian Deepwater Developer in a New Zealand High Court action in which it sought to compel a witness to give evidence in London-seated LCIA proceedings. The court ruled in favour of the firm’s client in 2015. 

In 2014, Chapman Tripp helped Singapore’s STP Energy settle a pair of ICC arbitrations worth US$50 million that had been brought by a Texan company over rights to offshore petroleum reserves. In an earlier phase of the dispute, the firm had helped see off an interim injunction application in the New Zealand courts.

The firm helped subsidiaries of New Zealand’s BlueScope Steel prevail in an arbitration against a Hong Kong-listed company concerning the abortive sale of an iron sand mine on “sensitive land” in New Zealand’s Waikato region. It also defended various rulings by the tribunal against challenges brought in the High Court.

The firm also helped HWE Mining, a subsidiary of Australia’s Leighton Contractors, settle a dispute with New Zealand utility Solid Energy over the operation of an open-cast coal mine.

In 2012, the firm advised on part of a US$75 million ICSID claim against Indonesia – thought to be the first investment treaty arbitration heard in New Zealand.

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