LLB (Hons), Partner
Richard Johnstone
Richard has been a partner of the firm since 1990.  He has a strong profile in the insurance industry, based on his technical knowledge and practical experience, and through his profile as an NZILA National Committee Member and Conference Convenor.

Richard can assist with all aspects of insurance law including:
  • Policy advice and drafting
  • Underwriting support and training
  • Material damage and property claims investigation, coverage advice and decision making
  • Directors and Officers liability coverage advice and claim presentation
  • Business interruption coverage advice and claim presentation
  • Professional negligence actions : lawyers, architects and financial advisers
  • Civil litigation, including subrogated recovery and defence
  • Building disputes, 'leaky' and 'shaky' building claims, and bodies corporate
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms, particularly mediation
  • Professional standards and ethics
Richard is recommended and recognised by the Asia Pacific Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners for his work in Insurance law.


"As my client you will have my unqualified commitment to securing the best result achievable for you, without any surprises!"
Wynn Williams (Christchurch)
Level 5, Wynn Williams House,
47 Hereford Street,
Christchurch 8013,
New Zealand.


Recent Projects

  • Insurance and liability opinions on instructions from other lawyers, brokers and accountants.
  • Insurer appointed counsel for major building company involved in an intensive building dispute over structural design deficiencies, pursuing alternative dispute resolution.
  • Providing strategic claims specific advice to a domestic lines insurer on policy interpretation and application issues, claims measurement and settlement decisions.
  • Appearing as lead counsel for Southern Response on High Court earthquake claims including the two leading cases on measurement of 'notional rebuild' costs where policyholder not in fact rebuilding on same site.
  • Conducting as lead counsel, a precedent case for an owner of a Sumner house subject to a s124 Notice, claiming total loss basis of settlement against EQC and insurer.
  • Guiding and representing numerous residential policyholders to negotiate settlement of their earthquake claims.
  • Advising numerous commercial policyholders; to present and negotiate settlement of their material damage and business interruption earthquake claims.
  • Representing CBD landowner at negotiations for the sale of designated land and improvements to the Crown.
  • Advising Body Corporate (mixed commercial and residential units) on presentation of material damage and business interruptions claims; negotiating bases of settlement and guiding body corporate on application of insurance proceeds and amendment to the unit plan.

Recent Articles


Insurance risks drive robust legal activity

Richard Johnstone provides commentary for NZ Lawyer's June Magazine. Almost half a decade after the first powerful quake shook the Canterbury region in 2010, we might expect earthquake-related legal insurance work to be tailing off.

Keep reading...


When is indemnity value payable?

An insurer's obligation to pay indemnity value does not depend on an insured's election after an insured loss, the High Court has recently and unsurprisingly confirmed.

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd v Avonside Holdings Ltd [2015] 18 ANZ Insurance Cases 62-079
  • Kraal v Earthquake Commission [2015] 2 NZLR 589
  • Kraal v Earthquake Commission [2014] 3 NZLR 42
  • Avonside Holdings Ltd v Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd [2014] 18 ANZ Insurance Cases 62-040
  • Turvey Trustee Limited v Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited [2013] 17 ANZ Insurance Cases 61-965.
  • Devcich & Ors v AMI Insurance Limited [2011] 3 NZTR 21-018
  • Fussell v Broadbase Christchurch Ltd [2011] 16 ANZ Ins cas 61-913
  • Kowhai Mainland Roof Coatings Ltd v Newman [2009] DCR 211
  • Cutler v Oceanside Developments Ltd [2009] DCR 645
  • Cousins v Heslop [2007] 18 PRNZ 677
  • Tucker v New Zealand Fire Service Commission [2003] NZAR 270
  • American's Ltd v State Insurance Ltd [1999] 10 ANZ Insurance Cases 61-455
  • Waitikiri Links Ltd v Windsor Golf Club Inc [1998] 8 NZCPR 527
  • Oldfields Ashphalts Ltd v Grovedale Cool Stores [1994] Ltd [1998] 3 NZLR 479
  • Stavefield Holdings No 29 Ltd v Nathan Securities Ltd [1993] ANZ ConvR 597
  • Collier v Equitable Life & General Insurance Co Ltd [1991] 3 NZBLC 102, 142
  • Cee Bee Marine Ltd v Lombard Insurance Co Ltd [1990] 2 NZLR 1
  • Grainger v Rossendale Holdings Ltd [1989] 2 NZLR 389
  • Vermeulen v SIMU Mutual Insurance Assocition [1987] 4 ANZ Insurance cases 60-812


  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association (NZILA), Life Member
  • NZILA National Committee; Convenor organising committee for 2016 conference in Queenstown. Honorary Lawyer Mount Pleasant Yacht Club
  • Convenor NZLS Standards Committee, Canterbury Westland Branch
  • NZLS Panel of Friends
  • NZLS Services Delivery Group

Speaking Engagements

  • NZILA – Insurance Council of New Zealand, Christchurch, August 2016: current issues, including (proposed) Insurance Contracts Bill
  • LMA Academy Lloyds, London, May 2016: The Christchurch Earthquakes, a Personal Perspective
  • SCG Legal, international conference Zurich, May 2016: discussion panel considering business interruption issues arising from natural disasters
  • New Zealand Institute of Building, April 2016: Health and Safety Reforms

 Security code

Wynn Williams Christchurch
Level 5, Wynn Williams House, 47 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand.
PO Box 4341, DX WX11179, Christchurch 8140.
+64 3 379 7622
+64 3 379 2467
Wynn Williams Auckland
Level 11, AIG Building, 41 Shortland Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
PO Box 2401, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
+64 9 300 2600
+64 9 300 2609

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