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Special Counsel

Graeme Palmer

BA LLB LLM(Cantab)


P+64 9 977 5011

M+64 21 497 464

Graeme Palmer

Graeme is a special counsel in the firm's planning and environment group. His practice encompasses both public law litigation (mainly judicial review) and advice work.

He has appeared in numerous High Court and Court of Appeal hearings, the Supreme Court and before that the Privy Council, mainly acting for local authorities.

Graeme's advice work covers the full range of local government activities, including: rates, development contributions and other matters, governance, council-controlled organisations, property including Public works Act and trust/endowment issues, Reserves Act, roads, transport planning and traffic regulaton, climate change response, infrastructure, elections, official information, meetings, conflict of interest, consultation, privacy, and the drafting of bylaws and statutory bills.

Examples of Work

Public law litigation

  • CP Group Limited v Auckland Council - acting for Auckland Council in its successful defence of the challenge by hoteliers and others to the Council’s accommodation providers targeted rate (Graeme had previously been involved in advising the Council on the design and implementation of the rate and associated decision-making)
  • Norman v Maunga Authority and Auckland Council - successful defence of challenge to Maunga Authority and Auckland Council decisions concerning removal of exotic trees at Ōwairaka (Mt Albert)
  • Save our Queen Street v Auckland Council - acting for the Council in claim challenging pedestrianisation works on Queen Street
  • All Aboard Aotearoa v Auckland Transport - acting for Auckland Transport on a climate change-based challenge to its regional land transport plan
  • Living Streets Aotearoa v Auckland Council - acting for the Council in a challenge to use of e-scooters on footpaths
  • New Zealand Motor Caravan Associated Incorporated v Thames-Coromandel District Council - one of many bylaw cases Graeme has been involved in over the years, this was the first (and still only) challenge to a bylaw made under the Freedom Camping Act: Simpson Grierson successfully defended the claim by the NZMCA that the Council’s bylaw was unlawful and breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act
  • Challenge to Auckland Council Local Alcohol Policy - proceedings in High Court and Court of Appeal, ultimately preserving Auckland Council LAP in face of challenges to the off-licence provisions by supermarket chains
  • Public Places Bylaw and regulation of begging - advising the Tauranga City Council on proposed changes to its Public Places Bylaw and acting for Council in judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of bylaw provisions prohibiting begging in public places
  • Auckland Transport - acting on challenge to decision to grant a licence to occupy part of a road at Campbells Bay, Auckland
  • Telecom Auckland Limited v Auckland City Council - landmark Court of Appeal decision establishing the rateability of utility networks
  • Telecom New Zealand v Christchurch City Council (sequel to the previous case) - various proceedings in the Land Valuation Tribunal, High Court, and Court of Appeal relating to the methodology for valuing Telecom's network for rating purposes, including the successful defence of a challenge to the validity of the rates based on those valuations
  • Auckland City Council v Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind - successful Court of Appeal and Supreme Court proceedings upholding the rateability of a charity's land used solely for investment purposes
  • Auckland City Council v Ports of Auckland Limited - Court of Appeal decision determining the rateability of wharves for commercial and recreational purposes
  • Tamaki Reserve Protection Trust and North Shore City Council v Minister of Conservation - judicial review proceedings successfully challenging a decision by the Minister of Conservation to take prime coastal land out of the ambit of the Reserves Act in order to free it for sale

Public law advisory

  • Auckland Council - advice at various stages in the process of making a new Freedom Camping Bylaw. Over the years Graeme has advised many councils on the drafting of many of its bylaws, and the bylaw-making and review processes, including bylaws regulating: Solid Waste; Water Supply and Wastewater; Trading and Events in Public Places; Trade Waste; Signage; Traffic, Animals Regulation, Dog Control
  • Auckland Transport - advice on its public law obligations in the climate change area
  • Watercare Services - advice on its response to the drought affecting the security of Auckland’s metropolitan water supply
  • Auckland Transport - advice on options for pedestrianising Queen Street and on landlocked land issues resulting from road pedestrianisation
  • Advising on local body charging issues eg wharf charging and charging for use of boat ramps
  • Auckland Transport - advice on compliance issues relating to adoption of the Regional Land Transport Plan
  • Auckland Council and Auckland Transport - advice on the regulation of e-scooters and options to address public safety issues with their use
  • Drafting delegations registers eg Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council
  • Independent Election Services - legal adviser (electoral officer for many local authorities and other public bodies) for 30 years
  • Involved in drafting of legislation eg Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008; Infrastructure Funding and Financing Act 2020 Member of the core legal team advising the Auckland Transition Agency and which led to the establishment of the Auckland Council and its new CCOs in 2002

Other Credentials

  • Brookers Local Government Law in New Zealand - Co-author