AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Civil and Commercial Litigation, Conflict of Laws, Public and Administrative Law
Esther specialises in commercial and public law litigation. She acts for private and public sector clients in a wide range of commercial disputes, with a focus on contractual, public law, regulatory, and human rights matters. Esther has appeared at all levels of the New Zealand courts, as well as in complex commercial cases in the courts of the British Virgin Islands and the Dubai International Financial Centre. She acts as both lead and junior counsel, and has appeared as counsel to assist in the High Court and in coronial inquests.
Esther started her career as a Judge’s Clerk in the Court of Appeal, before joining the Crown Law Office, where she worked in the criminal and human rights teams. After completing her LLM at the University of Cambridge, Esther spent four years in the London office of a leading US commercial litigation firm. Upon returning to New Zealand, Esther spent three years in the litigation team of a national firm before joining the independent bar in 2017.
In addition to her advocacy work, Esther is Deputy Convenor of the New Zealand Law Society’s Law Reform Committee, and a board member of Te Kura Kaiwhakawā/ the Institute of Judicial Studies.
- LLM (Hons), University of Cambridge
- LLB (Hons), Victoria University of Wellington
- BA (Psychology and Philosophy), Victoria University of Wellington
2017 – Present: Barrister, Stout Street Chambers
2014 – 2017: Senior Solicitor, Russell McVeagh
2010 – 2014: Associate Attorney, Gibson Dunn LLP
2007 – 2009: Assistant Crown Counsel, Crown Law Office
2006 – 2007: Judge’s Clerk to Hon Justice Arnold, Court of Appeal
- Commerce Commission v Vector Ltd  NZHC 540 – Acting for the Commerce Commission in a proceeding alleging contravention of Quality Standards under Part 4 of the Commerce Act 1986.
- Inquiry into the death of Samuel Jacob Fischer (Coroner’s Court, 2019) – Counsel assisting the coroner.
- Miles Premises Limited v Attorney-General (High Court, 2019) – Appearing for the applicant in judicial review proceedings relating to the Crown’s acquisition of land following the Canterbury Earthquake.
- Independent Review for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand of the Supervision of CBL Insurance Limited – Counsel assisting the independent reviewers.
- R v Honk Barges Limited (Court of Appeal, 2019 and High Court, 2018) – Counsel for the defendant in a complex tax evasion trial and subsequent appeal.
- Zhang v The Queen (Court of Appeal, 2019) – Counsel for the New Zealand Bar Association and the New Zealand Law Society (as interveners) in the Court of Appeal’s reconsideration of R v Fatu, the guideline decision for sentencing for methamphetamine offending.
- RHH Limited v Anderson (High Court, 2018) - Acting for the defendant in a claim alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.
- Young v Body Corporate 85659  NZHC 849 – Counsel for the applicant in judicial review proceedings relating to the Unit Titles Act 2010.
- Acting for the Human Rights Commission as intervener in Supreme Court proceedings concerning the effect of a choice of law clause in an employment contract that breaches New Zealand’s anti-discrimination laws: Brown & Sycamore v New Zealand Basing Limited  NZSC 139.
- Acting for Lecretia Seales on her application to the High Court for declarations that (i) assisted dying is not unlawful under the Crimes Act 1961, and (ii) in the alternative, to the extent that the Crimes Act prevents assisted dying for a person in her circumstances, it is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act 1990: Seales v Attorney-General  3 NZLR 556.
- Acting for Ngati Whatua in judicial review proceedings brought to clarify the extent of its right of first refusal over surplus land held by the Government in Tamaki Makaurau (settled in 2015).
- Appearing with Andrew Butler as amicus curiae in Arthur William Taylor’s election petition challenging the lawfulness of the election in the Helensville electorate: Taylor v Key  NZHC 722.
- Appearing as junior counsel, led by Lord Falconer of Thoroton, for UBS AG in its successful defence of a USD 21 million claim alleging breach of contract: (Sheikh Meshal Jarah Al Sabah v UBS AG, 27 August 2013, DIFC Courts, Judgment of Sir David Steel).
- Acting pro bono for the Hillsborough Family Support Group. We advised the group on its successful bid to overturn the verdicts handed down at the original inquest into the deaths of the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster.
- Acting for Chevron Corporation on its defence against attempts to enforce against it a USD $19 billion judgment issued in Ecuador.
- Appearing for UBS AG (in the British Virgin Islands High Court and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal) in its successful defence of restitutionary claims, totalling USD 2 billion, brought by Fairfield Sentry, the largest feeder fund into Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities Ltd: Fairfield Sentry Limited (in liquidation) v Migani & Others [2014 UKPC 9].
- Acting for a Dubai-based investment bank in enforcement proceedings brought by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (settled in 2012).
- Appearing with the Solicitor-General in a high profile contempt of Court trial: Solicitor-General v Fairfax New Zealand Ltd HC Wellington CIV-2008-485-705, 10 October 2008.
- Appearing for the New Zealand Parole Board in judicial review proceedings concerning its decision to release Mr McNamara: A v Parole Board & McNamara  NZAR 703.