Emily Walton

LLB, Partner

Emily is a specialist insurance lawyer and a key member of Wynn Williams' national Dispute Resolution team.  She has over 15 years' of experience in New Zealand, England and Australia representing insurers in the District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal.  While overseas, Emily's focus was professional indemnity and personal injury litigation, including time as in-house counsel for an international broking house.  Since the Canterbury Earthquakes, Emily has been heavily involved with defending claims in the High Court Earthquake List.   She has also developed expertise in commercial material damage and business interruption claims and construction disputes.
Emily is recommended and recognised as a Leading Individual by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 for her work in Insurance Law.  She is described as "a leading light in domestic and commercial earthquake insurance claims".  Clients describe her as "an outstanding lawyer. An intelligent, strong advocate with sound judgment and compassion.”  Emily is "commercial, easy to get along with, and has an excellent understanding of the law and legal practice. ”

Previous legal directories describe her as "a hands-on practitioner, always on top of her brief and close to her clients, who trust her" 

  The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms
"Every client I work for is different and unique.  Not only is the "law stuff" interesting and stimulating, I particularly enjoy connecting with my clients, learning about their businesses and helping them in a practical way."

Recent Projects

  • Assisting many commercial clients, including unique and iconic Christchurch businesses with their earthquake MD and BI claims.

  • Defending building disputes, including weather tightness claims, in the High Court.

  • Defending a large number of domestic earthquake claims in the High Court Earthquake List.

Recent Articles


Act Amendment a Game Changer for Victims of Revenge Pornography

Recently Parliament enacted the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Act 2022 in response a form of sexual exploitation, often referred to as “revenge pornography”.

Keep reading...


Napier City Council and its weathertightness exclusion

In Napier City Council v Local Government Mutual Funds Trustee Limited the High Court recently found that a weathertightness exclusion in professional indemnity cover excluded indemnity for both weathertightness and non-weathertightness defects. While not strictly an insurance policy, Justice Grice’s decision is relevant to the wider insurance community.

Keep reading...


Further Supreme Court guidance on contractual interpretation, extrinsic evidence and implied terms

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court delivered its decision in Bathurst Resources Ltd v L&M Coal Holdings Limited. This article outlines the general principles of contractual interpretation; admissibility of extrinsic evidence and implied terms, addressed by the case.

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How Business Interruption insurance could help recovery from the Canterbury floods 2021

The recent flooding in Canterbury caused extensive damage to farms and other businesses that will impact business revenue for many over the coming months. Find out how Business Interruption insurance could help.

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COVID-19 and Business Interruption Insurance: A Global Overview

Here in New Zealand we have been incredibly fortunate to have had almost unparalleled liberties over the last 12 months.  Thus far, the impact of COVID-19 has been comparatively minor for many businesses, hospitality and tourism being among the obvious exceptions.  Overseas, rolling business restrictions and lockdowns have caused enormous business losses.  Government support has mitigated these losses somewhat, but business owners are also looking to their business interruption insurers to foot the bill. 

Keep reading...


Defective EQ Repairs: What Next?

For some time, we have been predicting another wave of litigation, specifically claims against professionals, arising out of the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. Unfortunately, our predictions seem to be coming to fruition.

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Defective EQC Repairs? Time’s running out…

If you bought an EQC repaired house after the Canterbury Earthquakes and before 15 August 2019 and you have concerns about the quality of the repairs, the clock is ticking. You only have until 14 August 2020 to register your interest in an EQC ex gratia payment for repair costs.

Keep reading...


Protecting your business from cyber risks during COVID-19

COVID-19 has created unprecedented working situations for businesses. Many are rapidly trying to grapple with their employees working from home. Cybercriminals are using these unprecedented times as an opportunity for online scams and attacks. Businesses need to be hypervigilant.

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COVID-19 Working remotely and maintaining privacy obligations

COVID-19 has created unprecedented working situations, with many employees being required to work from home at short notice. This article sets out some simple practices that you and your employees can implement at home, to ensure privacy standards are maintained.

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Health insurance or self insurance?

The uptake of private health insurance in NZ is dropping. With our public health system and ACC meeting the cost of urgent medical care, and some resultant income loss, you might ask “is health insurance worth it?”

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COVID-19 Is my business insured for this?

On Wednesday 25 March 2020, our COVID-19 status will rise to level 4. New Zealand will go into lockdown. Schools and non-essential businesses will close, causing serious financial hardship for many. While insurance policies vary, for most, it is unlikely business interruption insurance will cover those financial losses.

Keep reading...


COVID-19 Am I insured for this?

In this article we canvas COVID-19 issues with personal insurances; Travel, Health, Life and Income Protection Insurance. 

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Changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill

Recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) in July 2019 see landlords having more protection over accidental damage caused by their tenants. Tenants are now unable to rely on their landlord’s insurance for damage they cause to the rental property.

Keep reading...


Supreme Court decides reinstatement benefits cannot be assigned

The Supreme Court has decided the case of Xu v IAG NZ Ltd against the homeowners by a 3:2 majority.

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Has your property been damaged by Cyclone Fehi?

If Cyclone Fehi has caused flooding, landslip or other damage to your property, you can lodge a claim with EQC by calling 0800 DAMAGE. You have up to three months to do so. You can also lodge a claim with your insurer in respect of the damage your house, garage and other outbuildings may have suffered.

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Earthquake-prone buildings: an update

On 1 July 2017, the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into force. It amends the Building Act 2004 to include special provisions for earthquake-prone buildings and replaces the individual earthquake-prone building policies.

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Eight miles too far?

Summary of Eight Mile Style v New Zealand National Party [2017] NZHC 2603. The National Party's use of the track Eminem Esque, in its 2014 election campaign was a copyright infringement.

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Supreme Court finds no doctrine of merger in commercial property policy

The Supreme Court has now considered an insurer's liability for multiple events occurring in the same policy period, addressing policy interpretation, the doctrine of merger, and the indemnity principle: Ridgecrest NZ Limited v IAG New Zealand Limited [2014] NZSC 117, on appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal in July 2013. Ridgecrest owned a commercial building in central Christchurch, which was insured with IAG under a State "Businesspack" policy. As a result of the Canterbury earthquake sequence, Ridgecrest lodged four claims for earthquake damage, following earthquakes on 4 September 2010, 26 December 2010, 22 February 2011 and 13 June 2011. Each of those "happenings" occurred in the same policy period, and each claim was accepted by IAG.

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Does Tower really hold all of the cards? Apparently not

The concerns we raised in our article "Does Tower really hold all of the cards?" have been confirmed in the Court of Appeal's decision, with Tower clearly not holding all of the cards when it comes to choosing the basis for, and measure of, settlement under their Provider House (Maxi Protection) Policy. Skyward Aviation 2008 Ltd v Tower Insurance Limited [2014] NZCA 76

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Another Look at Destruction, Automatic Reinstatement and Deductibles

Hot on the tail of the recent decision in Wild South Holdings the High Court has had another post-quake opportunity to analyse a commercial material damage insurance policy, this time one of Vero's. In Marriott v Vero Justice Dobson was asked to answer a number of questions:

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Does Tower Really Hold All The Cards?

Skyward Aviation's house and sleepout at 108 Kingsford Street, Burwood were damaged in the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. It was insured by Tower under a "Provider House (Maxi Protection) Policy." The property is within CERA's residential red zone and the land has been sold to the Crown for $291,000, so it is no longer an option for the house to be repaired or rebuilt on site.

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Earthquake-prone building policy not enforceable

Six days after the 4 September 2010 earthquake, the Christchurch City Council adopted its Earthquake-Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy 2010 (the Policy). The High Court has recently found it is unenforceable in terms of the level of strengthening required for earthquake-prone buildings.

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Ridgecrest: Insurers' Liability for Multiple Earthquake Events

The High Court is currently operating a special 'earthquake list' to fast-track earthquake-related insurance disputes.  One of the first decisions from that list, Ridgecrest NZ Limited v IAG New Zealand Limited1, deals with the extent of an insurer's liability for a commercial building in central Christchurch that suffered damage from four earthquakes during the same period of insurance.  

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Drastic Change to the Leaky Building Landscape

In Spencer on Byron the Supreme Court held that local authorities owe a duty of care in their inspection role to all building owners. This is a huge development, as previously such a duty only recognised residential building owners.

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The CCDU Blueprint and Insurance

The Insurance Council of New Zealand's most recent statistics show that just 45% of all commercial claims arising from the Canterbury earthquakes have been settled (despite more than two years having passed since the first earthquake of 4 September 2010).  There are, therefore, still a number of commercial claims to be resolved.

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A New Approach To Litigation Privilege?

If and when litigation privilege attaches to reports obtained by insurers is a hotly debated issue. The general principles can be easily stated and are well accepted: the document in question must have been prepared for the dominant purpose of providing advice in respect of reasonably anticipated litigation.

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Commercial Earthquake Insurance Claims - Lessons Learned and Observations

When going into bat for commercial clients to help maximise their earthquake insurance claims, two things are vital:  information and tenacity.

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Payments to Cease: Business Interruption Insurance

With the anniversary of the 22 February earthquake fast approaching, business interruption insurance is poised to re-enter the spotlight. The end of the month (February 2012) could bring a fatal blow to some businesses.

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Financial Adviser's Liability - Armitage v Church

Late last month the first High Court decision on a defended claim for financial adviser liability was issued.
Perhaps surprisingly, there have been few claims against financial advisers that have progressed to trial and judgment since the global financial crisis and finance company crash in New Zealand.  This may be because most professional indemnity insurers have declined to indemnify financial advisers for losses in connection with diminution or depreciation in value of investments.  The absence of insurance cover may be dissuading would be plaintiffs.

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A Beginner's Guide to Business Interruption Insurance

This is a beginner's guide to the hot topic (in Canterbury anyway) of business interruption. In addition to a general overview of loss of gross profits cover, it touches on issues to be mindful of, common disputes and underwriting pitfalls. Each policy and every business have their own unique issues. If you need to make a claim, take some professional advice.

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The No Asset Procedure - Easy Bankruptcy?

Emily Walton, associate, and Edward Burrell, former solicitor, with Wynn Williams & Co, look at this from the points of view of both a creditor and a debtor.

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Holler v Osaki [2014] NZAR 1001

  • Fussell v Broadbase Christchuch Ltd (2011) 16 ANZ Ins Cas 61-913

  • Burbery v Black HC Rotorua, CIV-2008-463-785 2 September 2010.

  • Fussell & McNamara v Broadbase Christchurch Limited HC Chch CIV 2009-409-0834 29 June 2011.

  • Monsanto PLC v Tilly & Ors (C.A.) [1999] 149 NLJ 1833.

  • The Waterways Authority v Fitzgibbon & Ors [2005] HCA 57.


  • National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)

  • Canterbury Women's Legal Association

  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association (NZILA)

  • Property Council of New Zealand

Speaking Engagements

  • Seismics in the City Panel - March 2013
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