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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Chapman Tripp

18 February 2016

The first port of call for arbitration in New Zealand, acting against Danone in a high-profile baby milk dispute

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 1
Value of pending counsel work US$892 million
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 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.

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; 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.

Chapman Tripp has also 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

In 2012, 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.

The same year, former partner Jack Hodder QC and consultant Doug Alderslade 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 recent work has been 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, which the firm reports to be worth in excess of €1 billion. That dispute is playing out in UNCITRAL proceedings in Singapore as well as in the New Zealand courts.

In July 2014, the firm persuaded New Zealand’s High Court to stay Danone’s litigation against Fonterra pending the outcome of the Singapore arbitration.

In a first for New Zealand, it convinced a court to compel a witness resident in the country to give evidence before the LCIA via audio-video link for an international arbitration involving Dalian Deepwater Developer.

Hodder and Auckland partner Adam Ross left the firm in 2015 to join barristers chambers. Solicitor Kate Yesberg, who joined the firm following a year as a Fulbright Scholar at New York University, was promoted.

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