DLA Piper New Zealand: Everything you need to know
Types of services: Legal
Offices: Auckland, Wellington
DLA Piper is a global law firm with offices in over 40 countries, with its reach extending across Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. It was ranked the third largest law firm in the United States as measured by revenue in 2014.
DLA Piper New Zealand was the first global business law firm to set up operations in New Zealand, and it can trace its roots back to 1884 when Australia-based law firm PD Phillips (later rebranding as DLA Philips Fox) opened its first office there.
PD Phillips became Philips Fox in 1985, and formed an alliance with DLA Piper in November 2006. On March 02, 2015, DLA Philips Fox (New Zealand) fully integrated with DLA Piper, becoming DLA Piper New Zealand.
DLA Piper New Zealand currently operates across over 10 different sectors including insurance, banking and finance, healthcare, technology and transport. It has acted for Lloyd’s underwriters in relation to commercial building damage during the Canterbury earthquakes, and has also represented Southern Response in High Court litigation over a damage claim for a home in the residential red zone.
Outside of natural disasters and weather events, one of DLA Piper’s most notable cases involved acting for ACE Insurance and Lloyd’s Syndicate. The insurers declined cover for arson, alleging that the hotel owner had lit the fire deliberately in an act of insurance fraud. The High Court ruled in their favour after a four week trial involving over 40 expert and lay witnesses.
DLA Piper in the news
2006 – Phillips Fox enters into an exclusive alliance with global organisation DLA Piper, becoming a member of the global DLA group under the name DLA Phillips Fox.
2015 – DLA Phillips Fox’s New Zealand branch integrates with DLA Piper’s global business, becoming DLA Piper New Zealand.
2016 – Insurance litigator Caroline Laband joins DLA Piper New Zealand’s partnership, having recently left local top tier firm Russel McVeagh.
2017 – DLA Piper’s Auckland office relocates to the new PwC tower on Queen Street.
2018 – DLA Piper brings in experienced insurance litigators Brad Cuff and Misha Henaghan as new partners.
2019 – AIA New Zealand appoints DLA Piper’s Tracey Cross as a new independent director on its board.
Key people (as of 2019)
Charles Severs – Managing director, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa
Severs is based in London, and has a long history of expertise in public and private M&A transactions and equity capital markets. He is responsible for the firm’s APAC, Middle East and Africa operations, having been appointed to the role in November 2018.
Caroline Laband – Partner
Laband is based in Auckland, and has over 18 years’ experience in representing insurers, brokers and insured corporations in both local and international disputes. She regularly appears before the High Court and Court of Appeal, and also handles arbitration proceedings. Over the course of her career she has acted for Vero Insurance, the Serious Fraud Office and Trustees Executors, along with numerous other insurers, reinsurers and insurance broking groups. In one particularly notable case, she acted for a large corporate in a $60 million property damage and business interruption claim arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes.
Peter Leman – Partner
Leman is based in Wellington, and is an experienced insurance litigator who regularly acts for fire and general insurers. His areas of expertise are business interruption and material damage, public and product liability and statutory liability. He is well versed in the legislative and regulatory environment faced by insurers and brokers, and has also handled professional indemnity litigation for individuals across a range of other industries.
Pro bono practice
DLA Piper has a team of lawyers dedicated to ensuring that its pro bono practice is “innovative and effective,” and helps support access to justice. Every lawyer at DLA Piper spends time each year offering legal services to those who cannot afford a lawyer.
The firm coordinates pro bono projects across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific, offering legal services to low-income individuals, families and non-profit organisations. In 2018, it donated 24,600 hours in Asia-Pacific and 201,800 hours globally.