Just following orders?

Just following orders?

A, B and C v D and E Limited [2019] NZHC 992

Could a lawyer be liable to disappointed children for a client’s decision to transfer assets to a trust?

One of the fundamental duties of a solicitor is to implement the instructions given to him or her by a client.  But what if those instructions are morally dubious?  Where a third party suffers a loss, can the lawyer say that he or she was only following instructions?  The answer is a clear ‘no’ if the client’s instruction relates to a breach of the client’s fiduciary duties.  A recent case suggests that such breaches might be more common than previously thought.   

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Down to the nuts and bolts

Down to the nuts and bolts

J & NA Shanks Ltd v Heli Support New Zealand Ltd [2019] NZHC 1615

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “life imitates art far more than art imitates life”.  

It seems that this applies to litigation as well.  Pauline Davies and Sam Learmonth recently acted for the plaintiff in a five-day High Court trial, seeking recovery of a payment made by insurers to a helicopter owner after the helicopter was damaged in a crash.  The defendant was a maintenance engineer and it was alleged that the crash was caused by negligent workmanship. After the trial, Pauline and Sam were surprised to find that the issue in dispute had already been discussed in some detail in John Grisham’s novel, Gray Mountain.  

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Get to know Gisella

Gisella attended Kristin School in Albany before starting a bachelor of design degree at the University of NSW. During her last semester there she went on an exchange to South Korea, decided to stay for a while and fell into broadcasting - she was a news anchor at one of the three national broadcasters there. After two years or so she missed New Zealand, its people, culture, lifestyle, and coffee and returned home. 

Gisella decided on yet another change and enrolled for law at Auckland University. She was admitted to the bar in June 2018 and started her legal career at an international insurance law firm in Auckland. She began work at Fee Langstone in August 2019. 

"Insurance litigation is a specialist area that involves complex issues and disputes and often requires lawyers to think outside the box. I love that the facts for each matter can be very different from one another - you can insure almost everything. It is rewarding working on finding pragmatic resolutions meeting clients’ needs. Fee Langstone has an excellent reputation within the community for its impeccable legal service delivery and its depth of expertise over a diverse range of areas."   

Apart from the law, Gisella has a passion for history. One of her dreams would be to be able to time travel and observe and experience the middle ages and early modern era. Could come in handy for researching cases as well!

Gisella is yet another Fee Langstone dog lover – she has a small but perfectly formed Pomeranian. She loves to cook and try new foods. Her wide-ranging interests extend to outdoor pursuits as well. She plays golf and tennis and loves to walk in the bush when she can. 

Gisella joined Fee Langstone around the same time as Hannah Piggin. Read more about her here

Get to know Hannah

In her last two years of school Hannah was set on studying chemical or civil engineering at university but instead she chose law and French and graduated from Auckland University with an LLB and BA. 

She gained fluency in French not just through study here but in immersion in France. First came an exchange trip through school and then, in her final year of her degrees, an exchange semester at Université Jean Moulin in Lyon where she combined both disciplines by taking law papers taught in French. She studied translation at university and has carried out some translation of legal work. 

Hannah started out her legal career at a litigation firm in Auckland, primarily acting for homeowners in disputes arising from the Canterbury earthquakes. She was admitted in March 2019 and started at Fee Langstone in August 2019.

"Insurance law attracts me because it is unique as while it is a specialised area of practice, it applies to a wide variety of disputes, with insureds ranging from individuals to multinational companies. The different areas of expertise in so many fields fascinate me."

"In my experience so far, like others, I think what really sets Fee Langstone apart is the people. I’m lucky to be joining a firm where everyone is highly skilled at what they do but equally very welcoming and down to earth." 

When asked to list three things still left on her bucket list she replied: "Go skydiving, visit Antarctica, and learn more languages. I want to learn the language of every new place I visit as soon as I get there."

You never know. Perhaps Fee Langstone will get an instruction requiring someone to jump from a Hercules aircraft into the Argentinian base.

Hannah joined Fee Langstone around the same time as Gisella Kim. Read more about her here

High Court illuminates rights and remedies for breach of good faith duty

High Court illuminates rights and remedies for breach of good faith duty

Taylor v Asteron Life Ltd [2018] NZHC 2939

The decision of Taylor v Asteron Life Ltd is important because it upholds an insurer’s right to cancel and seek damages from an insured guilty of making a fraudulent claim.  Rather than applying common law principles of the duty of good faith, the insurer’s remedies were dealt with under the Contracts and Commercial Law Act 2017 (CCL Act).

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The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: Watch This Space

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug:  Watch This Space

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is a native of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan and is a serious agricultural pest in all places where it has become established, including the USA and parts of Europe and Canada.  The prospect of the stink bug becoming established in New Zealand is regarded by the local horticulture industry as a matter of serious concern, with an NZIER report published in February 2018 estimating that this could wipe up to $3.6bn from New Zealand’s GDP by 2038.

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Mainzeal: quantum assessment moves in a new direction

Mainzeal: quantum assessment moves in a new direction

Mainzeal Property and Constructions Ltd (in Liq) v Yan and Others [2019] NZHC 255

In February of this year, the High Court upheld claims of reckless trading against the former directors of Mainzeal Property and Construction Limited (Mainzeal). The Court held the former directors had to pay $36 million, approximately one third of the $110 million owed to unsecured creditors.  The decision is important for a number of reasons, including an adoption of a novel approach to assessing the quantum of the award against the directors.

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First Australian decision on liability for ACP Cladding – what does it mean for insurers?

First Australian decision on liability for ACP Cladding – what does it mean for insurers?

Owners Corporation No.1 PS613436T & Ors v LU Simon Builders Pty Ltd & Ors [2019] VCAT 286

Early morning on 25 November 2014, a resident of the Lacrosse Apartment building, in Melbourne, extinguished a cigarette in a makeshift ashtray sitting on a timber table on his balcony.  A small fire started in the plastic ashtray, spreading to the table and then to the external cladding of the building. The cladding was made of Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP). These panels had a core containing highly flammable polyethylene, which was not compliant with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The fire spread quickly up the side of the building, racing up thirteen floors in roughly fifteen minutes and causing extensive damage.

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Chambers Rankings 2018

The Chambers rankings were recently released and we are pleased to announce Fee Langstone was ranked in Band 2 for Insurance.  The feedback from those interviewed was that Fee Langstone staff were “adept in both contentious and non-contentious matters.” It was further noted that the firm’s “expertise extends to policy review and product liability disputes.” Philippa Fee was mentioned as a notable practitioner in the firm. She was also ranked individually in Band 1 for Insurance. Those interviewed said she “maintains a prominent position in the market” and clients “regularly engage her and have confidence in her.” Pauline Davies was also singled out, receiving a Band 2 ranking for Shipping, with interviewees praising her work in maritime insurance claims. 

Click here to see the rankings

Corporate Challenge 2018

On Wednesday, 21 November a large group of Fee Langstone staff and family members braved the rain to run in the 2018 Corporate Challenge.  Fee Langstone placed 22 out of 94 in the teams division. Luke Humphries was the first in for FL with a time of 19:33mins with Andrew Durrant closely behind him at 20:07mins. Ali Cornwell was our first female across the line at 25 minutes. Luke also came in as runner 31 out of 1049! After the race the team took shelter at Flying Burrito Brothers in Newmarket to refuel with burritos and tacos. Good work Team FL!