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Public Law

Simpson Grierson has the largest public law practice of any law firm in New Zealand. As advisers to a range of public bodies, we have unsurpassed experience in public and administrative law.

We provide public sector organisations with policy and statutory interpretation advice, and legislative drafting services, and also advise on policy development and legislation strategy. We have been involved in the drafting of a number of significant statutes, such as the Resource Management Act and the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act, and local legislation.

Increasingly, we also assist a broad range of clients from all sectors in their dealings with government. This includes:

  • representations to Ministers and officials, and government departments
  • appearances before Select Committees and inquiries, and a host of other forums in which business comes into contact with the machinery of government
  • legal advice on government processes, including analysis of new legislation and assessment of policy considerations
  • facilitating contact with ministerial and government groups, industry and sector representatives, and other advisers to government
  • developing strategies for working effectively with government.

Importantly, we understand the public sector environment.  Within our team we have professionals who have held senior roles in the public sector, including Sally McKechnie, a former senior Crown Counsel, Tony Ryall, a former senior cabinet minister who head our public policy unit, and David Cochrane, a former Parliamentary Counsel and one of New Zealand's foremost public law specialists.

Working with local government

We are particularly well known for our work with local government.  We advise over 60 local authorities, including the major metropolitan councils in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Our expertise ranges from the day-to-day operation of councils in their statutory and political environments, to the highest level strategic developments affecting local government as a whole.

We are regularly involved in submissions on new legislation and policy initiatives and work in partnership with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) and the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM).

Examples of our work

  • Advising on both the legal and practical aspects of creating the ‘new’ Auckland, including those uniquely Auckland components such as the local boards, ‘substantive CCOs’, the Mayoral office, and the Maori Statutory Board (Auckland Council)
  • Judicial review by New Era Energy of the Electricity Commission approval of the North Island Grid Upgrade Project (Transpower)
  • Judicial review of social housing rental decisions (Christchurch City Council)
  • Advising on  the Waitara Endowment Land Local Bill, which is intended to resolve long standing and contentious issues involving land in the Waitara Area and to provide for the appropriate distribution of the proceeds from lease income or sale of the land New Plymouth District Council)
  • Advising on a judicial review to Council's decision to add fluoride to the drinking water supplies for Patea and Waverley (South Taranaki District Council)
  • Successfully defended judicial review proceedings brought by the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association against the Thames-Coromandel District Council's freedom camping bylaw (Thames-Coromandel District Council)
  • Advising on Water Supply and Wastewater Network Bylaw (Watercare Services Limited)
  • Adviser on 2012 amendments to the LGA 2002, principally in relation to the change to the purpose statement (LGNZ)
  • Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society v Kapiti Coast District Council and Auckland Regional Council v Rodney District Council - judicial review of Resource Management Act non-notification decisions