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Helen Smith



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 skilled dispute resolution specialist, acting on major commercial cases. She is also a trained negotiator and mediator, with extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution. She is an Associate member of the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand Inc. She takes a practical and pragmatic approach that recognises that there are different ways to achieve a commercial outcome.

  • Asia Pacific Legal 500 Insurance 2022 - Leading Lawyer
  • Chambers Asia-Pacific Insurance 2022 - Recommended Lawyer, where one client said, "Helen Smith is a longstanding expert of insurance litigation and is particularly good in the construction law space. Helen is tough and gets good results by sticking to her guns."

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, and for Fire and Emergency New Zealand in the Coronial Inquiry into the 15 March 2019 masājid attacks
  • 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

  • Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance - Associate Member
  • Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Inc - Associate Member
  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association - Member
  • Society of Construction Law - Member