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Helen Smith

BA LLB(Hons)


P+64 3 968 4011

M+64 21 704 879

Helen Smith

Helen is a partner in the firm’s commercial litigation group, based in the Christchurch office. She is a litigation and dispute resolution specialist having acted for clients on a wide range of complex commercial matters including contractual, tortious and construction claims.

She has extensive insurance experience in relation to liability claims as well as fire and general claims, including those arising out of the Christchurch earthquakes. She has also acted in high profile Coronial inquiries and inquests.

Helen is a trained negotiator with extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution. She takes a practical and pragmatic approach that recognises that there are different ways to achieve a commercial outcome.

  • Chambers Asia-Pacific Insurance 2021 - Leading Lawyer

Examples of Work

  • Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry - acting for engineers, project managers and property owners in relation to the Hotel Grand Chancellor and other buildings which caused loss of life, including the CTV building
  • Coronial Inquiry and Inquest - acting for the New Zealand Fire Service in the Coronial Inquest into the deaths of eight people who survived the initial collapse of the CTV building but later died
  • Professional liability claims - appointed by insurers to act for numerous professionals including real estate agents, auditors, valuers, brokers, lawyers, accountants and other professionals, with particular expertise in claims involving construction professionals, notably architects, engineers, and project managers
  • Professional discipline - appointed by insurers to act for various professionals, including engineers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and health professionals such as social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists, in responding to complaints against them to their respective industry bodies
  • Statutory liability - appointed by insurers to act for insureds in defence of statutory liability claims, particularly in the resource management context
  • Public liability - appointed by insurers to act on public liability claims including acting for a demolition contractor in a claim for wrongful demolition of a building and a contractor in relation to damage caused to a neighbouring property as a result of excavation and piling work
  • Product liability - appointed by insurers to act in relation to product liability claims, with close liaison with insureds, loss adjusters, and experts required
  • Indemnity advice in relation to home, contents, vehicle, farm travel and life insurance policies
  • Earthquake claims - for and against insurers, and in relation to both material damage and business interruption, with a particular focus on high value claims in the retail, property development, education, and commercial sectors

Other Credentials

  • St John South Island Region Trust Board - Board member
  • Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) - Member