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Special Counsel

Robert Gapes

BCom LLB(Hons) ACIArb


P+64 9 977 5076

M+64 21 935 415

Robert Gapes

Rob is a special counsel in the commercial litigation group. His areas of expertise include litigation, arbitration, and mediation. He has wide-ranging experience in many fields, and special expertise in product liability, personal injury, and insurance, being widely regarded as New Zealand's foremost product liability lawyer.

Multinational and New Zealand clients regularly call on Rob on matters involving a diverse range of products, including asbestos, building products and tools, chemicals, electronics, electrical and telecommunications equipment, food and beverages, household appliances, jewellery, medical devices and equipment, motor vehicle accessories, and pharmaceuticals. In recent years, Rob has acted on product liability matters for major corporations based in Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Rob has acted for insurers and other clients on a wide range of insurance matters over many years and appeared as counsel in insurance-related cases in various New Zealand courts, including the Supreme Court (New Zealand's highest court).

  • Asia Pacific Legal 500 Insurance 2021 - Leading Lawyer
  • Best of the Best Global 2020 Expert Guide - named as one of the Top 30 Product Liability Practitioners Globally
  • The International Who's Who Legal:
    • Life Sciences - Product Liability 2021 - Leading Lawyer
    • Product Liability Defence 2021 - Leading Lawyer - "one of the principal specialists active in the New Zealand market" and "known as 'the man in town' "
    • Insurance and Reinsurance 2019 - Leading Lawyer
  • Euromoney Legal Media Group 2016 - named as one of the Top 30 Product Liability Practitioners in the World
  • Chambers Asia-Pacific 2017 - Recommended Lawyer for Insurance

Examples of Work

  • Lai v Chamberlains (Supreme Court) - landmark case, abolishing barristers' immunity from negligence claims
  • Ludgater Holdings Ltd v Gerling Australia Insurance Co Pty Ltd (Supreme Court) - successful protest to the New Zealand courts' jurisdiction over a foreign product liability insurer
  • Moldauer v Constellation Brands Inc (Court of Appeal) - successful protest to the New Zealand courts' jurisdiction over a foreign employer
  • Lam v NZ International Trustee Co Ltd - examination of New Zealand witnesses for the purpose of Hong Kong proceedings, on behalf of the estate of an assassinated businessman
  • Vertex Group Holdings Ltd v Stewart - litigation relating to validity of directors' appointments, resulting in the court appointment of an independent chairman
  • The Coca-Cola Company (United States) - court orders and examination of a New Zealand witness in relation to a putative class action in Atlanta

Other Credentials

  • Auckland Community Law Centre (charitable trust) - Chair
  • World Class Actions - Co-author
  • Product Liability, Jurisdictional Comparisons - Co-author
  • Product Liability in the Asia-Pacific - Co-author
  • International Product Liability Law - Co-author
  • The International Comparative Legal Guide to Product Liability - Co-author
  • International Association of Defence Counsel - Member
  • New Zealand Law Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal - Former chairman
  • Auckland Law Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal - Former chairman
  • Auckland District Law Society - Former council member
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom) - Associate