BA, LLB (Hons) (Cant), LLM (Camb), FAMINZ (Arb), TEP, FClArb , Partner
Jeremy Johnson
Jeremy is an experienced litigator and dispute resolution specialist.  He has particular expertise in commercial, insolvency, equity and trust law.  Jeremy is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and holds a STEP Advanced Certificate in Trust Disputes, placing first in his global class. Jeremy has offices in both Christchurch and Auckland and is a member of the firm's board.

Jeremy has an ability to quickly grasp a legal situation and provide accurate, commercially realistic advice at short notice.  He is frequently instructed to appear as counsel in the courts and before arbitral tribunals.  In the past year he has appeared as senior counsel in more than half a dozen hearings and has also appeared as junior counsel with some of New Zealand’s leading barristers.

Jeremy is recognised as being a leader in his field by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020, and is also recognised by the Chambers Asia-Pacific 2020 and Chambers Global 2020 legal guides.  One client describes him as "patient, quietly determined and gives his clients a strong feeling that they are in a safe pair of hands. I cannot recommend him highly enough. In terms of overall value for money, his advice was worth every cent.’  Another client describes him as 'intellectually strong with very good emotional intelligence, which helps his clients make good decisions in the face of ambiguity'.

In previous directories a client describes him as an "excellent strategic litigator and thinker.  He is very responsive and well regarded by other practitioners, which makes negotiations more streamlined".  Another client describes him as "in a league of his own", “his approach in court is courteous and disarming" while another impressed client enthused that he is "probably the most outstanding young lawyer I have ever met”.

Jeremy is a Fellow of the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand for Arbitration; he is the youngest person to have achieved this distinction. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Jeremy also received the Sir Ronald Davison Award for excellence in arbitral award writing.  He is available to appear as counsel in arbitrations and to take appointments as an arbitrator.

Jeremy was awarded the 2017 NZ Law Awards Artemis Executive Recruitment Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year (under 35).  Being described as "a clear winner in this category", the judges praised Jeremy for having an impressive career to date. 

Outside of work, Jeremy is active in the community.  He serves as Deputy Legal Advisor to the Primates of New Zealand and Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, and has served as a member of the Legislation Design Advisory Committee which reviews proposed legislation for the Attorney-General and Parliament.

Jeremy is actively involved in governance.  Jeremy is also a Fellow of Christ’s College, Canterbury, and is a past President of the Christ’s College Old Boys’ Association.  He is also a member of the board of the New Zealand String Quartet Trust.

Jeremy has a BA and LLB (Hons) from the University of Canterbury and an LLM, with first class honours, from the University of Cambridge.


"Interaction with clients and the challenge of providing practical solutions to legal problems in an efficient manner are what keep me going into the office."
Wynn Williams (Christchurch)
Level 5, Wynn Williams House,
47 Hereford Street,
Christchurch 8013,
New Zealand.


Recent Projects

  • Providing advice to clients on commercial contracts including the terms of sale and purchase agreements.
  • Advising on the terms of restraints in leases.
  • Successfully appearing as lead counsel in a significant case involving solicitor negligence.
  • Providing advice regarding the terms of a significant construction contract for a project worth approximately $100m.
  • Successfully obtaining without notice injunctions freezing defendants' assets.
  • Acting in construction contract adjudications.
  • Leading concluding negotiations for a client for the settlement of an insurance claim in excess of $100m.
  • Acting for the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and the Church Property Trustees in relation to ChristChurch Cathedral.
  • Represented a member of one of New Zealand's wealthiest families in multi-proceeding litigation around family trusts.
  • Acting in a number of applications under the Wills Act 2007 to validate draft wills.
  • Advising clients on relationship property agreements at the beginning and end of relationships.
  • Provided advice on intellectual property issues, including involving breach of copyright and passing off and acting in two disputes involving trademarks for a vinery.
  • Acting as lead counsel in a significant claim involving a company that collapsed owing in excess of $30m involving application of the Securities Act and the Financial Markets Conduct Act.
  • Successfully appearing in the Court of Appeal in leading insurance fraud case AMI v Devcich [2011] NZCA 266
  • Successfully appearing in the Supreme Court in leading trust case of Kain v Hutton [2008] NZSC 61

Recent Articles


COVID-19 Trusts and Charities: What you should know

In the context of a global pandemic affecting lives and livelihoods the world over, the focus of most of us has been on those legal matters which are front and center in our lives. What has perhaps gone under the radar is the impact COVID-19 may have for our trusts and charities, many of whom hold investments that are likely to be significantly affected by the ensuing economic fallout.

Keep reading...


COVID-19 insolvency reforms – a job part done?

The Government has announced that it will be introducing temporary changes to the Companies Act in an effort to see as many businesses survive the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 as possible. The changes will be welcome news to debtors , however, the news may not be so rosy for creditors, many of whom will also be feeling the pinch of the COVID-19 crisis.

Keep reading...


Resolving disputes in times of crisis: alternatives to going to court

The current COVID-19 situation has disrupted much of our life including the functioning of the court system. It is unlikely the courts will quickly deal with matters that do not affect life or liberty in the immediate future. However, while the courts might stand still, that does not mean disputes do. Now, more than ever, it is worth looking at the alternative ways to resolving disputes.

Keep reading...


COVID-19 Possible further relief for struggling businesses during the current Covid 19 crisis

The Australian government has announced that it is putting in place temporary measures to prevent businesses and individuals temporarily facing financial distress as a result of COVID-19 from being forced into liquidation.  Given New Zealand’s insolvency laws are closely aligned with Australia it is likely that in the coming days our Government will follow suit with a similar package. 

Keep reading...


COVID-19 Update from the Courts of New Zealand

Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann has announced new measures that would be brought in in response to the Government’s implementation of a four-level COVID-19 alert system and designation of the current situation as level two – reduce contact. The Chief Justice’s message was clear: the courts will continue to operate, though practices may need to change to limit social contact.

Keep reading...


A trust transformation

It is often said that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of trusts per capita – the government estimates there are somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 trusts operating in New Zealand. 2019 brings a long-anticipated change to the law of trusts in the form of the Trusts Act 2019.

Keep reading...


Three tips for breaches of contract

Jeremy Johnson, Partner at Wynn Williams talks to Jake Millar, CEO of Unfiltered about three tips for how best to resolve a breach of contract. The video includes documenting everything from the beginning, checking the contract multiple times and hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

Keep reading...


How do you protect your ideas?

Jeremy Johnson, Partner at Wynn Williams talks to Jake Millar, CEO of Unfiltered about two things to think about when creating IP. The video includes what steps you can take to protect your IP and how to ensure international protection of your ideas.

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The Arbitration Amendment Bill 2017

Jeremy Johnson contributes to an article on The Arbitration Amendment Bill 2017 for LawTalk Magazine.

Keep reading...


Arbitration of trust disputes: a new frontier

The Arbitration Act 1996 (Act) was enacted to facilitate the arbitration of commercial disputes and to enable international arbitration so that disputes decided here can be easily enforced in other jurisdictions. In principle, the incorporation of an arbitration clause should lead to the successful resolution of such disputes in a private, expeditious, and cost-effective way.

Keep reading...


Arbitration clauses and summary judgment: what to do when you don't think there is a dispute

Introduction Arbitration clauses are increasingly used in commercial agreements and in leases. One question that often arises in situations where there is an arbitration clause is what claimants should be doing when they do not think the defendant has a defence? Usually the claimants have proceeded to Court under the summary judgment procedure; however the Supreme Court in Zurich Australian Insurance Limited t/a Zurich New Zealand v Cognition Education Limited has now closed off this option. The decision will have significant practical implications for parties. The summary jurisdiction is not often used in arbitrations and the reasons for that appear to be both principled and practical. Nevertheless there are good reasons – both in terms of principle and practicality - why clients might want to have access to a summary jurisdiction and there are ways that this can be achieved – namely by allowing for it in the arbitration clause itself.

Keep reading...


Arbitration clauses and the summary jurisdication: the Supreme Court speaks [2015] NZLJ 82

Introduction The question of how to handle arbitration clauses in contracts where there is no clear dispute between the parties is one that has long bothered lawyers and clients. If the other party does not respond to demands for payment/remedy of contractual breaches is it appropriate to issue summary judgment proceedings? If the other party does respond but the alleged defence is not reasonably arguable must the parties proceed to arbitration anyway?

Keep reading...


Supreme Court finds leaky home limitation periods are not water tight

Osborne & Anor v Auckland City Council & Anor [2014] NZSC 67 Introduction After over seven years of litigation the Supreme Court has yesterday held that John Anthony Osborne and his wife Helen Osborne are entitled to seek relief for a leaky home claim which began in February 2007. On 10 June 2014 the Supreme Court released a unanimous judgment concerning the limitation period for leaky homes claims under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 (the "Act"). The effect of the decision is that the limitation period for claims under the Act will extend for 10 years from the date when building work which gives rise to the claim, including the issuing of code compliance certificates by a Council or territorial authority, is completed.

Keep reading...


Wolf in sheep's clothing: failed finance company investors at risk?

Investors in Ross Asset Management Ltd (in liquidation) ("RAM") were understandably surprised when the liquidators announced that payments to investors made by the company two years prior to liquidations may be set aside.

Keep reading...


Directors: Call Your Brokers [2014] NZLJ 126

Nearly a year to the day after the Court of Appeal, in Steigrad v BFSL 2007 Ltd [2012] NZCA 604, gave insured directors a Christmas present, the Supreme Court has played Scrooge for directors and Santa for liquidators and receivers of, and investors in, failed finance companies to recover losses by pursuing directors of those companies for breaches of their directors' duties and also for breaches of the Securities Act 1978.

Keep reading...


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Lawsuit

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. But who has the right to benefit from the film depiction of that hobbit? This is the issue raised by the claim recently filed by Miramax LLC, and its managing directors Harvey and Robert Weinstein ("the Plaintiffs"), against Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc and New Line Cinema Corporation.

Keep reading...


Arcadia Homes Ltd (In Liq) v More To This Life

For the first time in New Zealand, the issue of "subject to director's approval" clauses has come before the Courts. This raised the question of how such clauses would be interpreted. In particular, would the Courts approach the clauses as "conditions precedent" or "conditions subsequent"?

Keep reading...


Passing Off As Rihanna?

In a recent case from the Chancery Court, Rihanna, a prominent pop star, successfully sued Topshop, a high street fashion retailer, for passing off.

Keep reading...


Farewell to Hastings-Bass? [2013] NZLJ 249

The “rule in Hastings-Bass” (In re Hastings Bass [1975] Ch 25, [1974] 2 All ER 193 (CA)) is a misnomer and its application has been too liberal. So said Lord Walker in his swan song judgment for a unanimous United Kingdom Supreme Court in Futter v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs [2013] UKSC 26, on appeal from a unanimous decision of the English Court of Appeal on two cases heard jointly (Pitt v Holt and Futter v Futter [2011] EWCA CIV 197, [2012] Ch 132, [2011] All ER 450)

Keep reading...


Peer To Peer File Sharing [2013] NZLJ 172

The issues that confront governments dealing with peer-to-peer networks that infringe the rights of copyright holders highlight the challenges that modern technology poses to intellectual property law.  There is a need to balance the interests of different interests while also upholding the international obligations that states have entered into.  New Zealand has attempted to balance the interests involved by the Copyright (Infringing Filesharing) Amendment Act 2011, which introduces a graduated infringement system involving warnings of infringement to user, but which shops short of allowing the suspension of internet services.

Keep reading...


Advertising Ethical and Socially Responsible Business

Last month Dole came under scrutiny for labelling its fruit products with stickers bearing the slogan “Ethical Choice”.  Dole’s justification for the labels was that it has a commitment to ethical conduct throughout its business operations by providing a "safe, healthy, fair, and productive environment" for its workforce.

Keep reading...


When is hilarity defamatory?

The New Zealand law reports are replete with defamation cases brought by public figures.  One of the earliest was in 1911, where William Massey unsuccessfully sued the New Zealand Times for a cartoon that insinuated he was a liar and guilty of disreputable acts.  More recently, The Civilian, a previously niche satirical news website, was launched into the public spotlight by the threat of a defamation action from the leader of the Conservative Party, Colin Craig. 

Keep reading...


Johnson v Auckland Council [2013] NZHC 165

On 11 February 2013 the High Court found that the purchasers of a leaky building had not taken reasonable steps to protect themselves against the risk that the house had weathertightness issues.  Because of this, the loss they suffered was substantially their own fault, and the Court reduced the damages which would otherwise be recoverable by 70%.

Keep reading...


Steigrad v BFSL 2007 Ltd [2012] NZCA 604

On 20 December 2012, the Court of Appeal released its decision in Steigrad v BFSL 2007 Ltd [2012] NZCA 604.  The decision impacts negatively upon attempts by liquidators and receivers of, and investors in, failed finance companies to recover losses by pursuing directors of those companies for breaches of their directors' duties and also for breaches of the Securities Act 1978.

Keep reading...


Cathedral Decision 15 November 2012 - What it Really Means

Outcome: the Judge ordered a stay of the CPT's decision on the basis that the CPT's decision was "incomplete".  The Judge found that the trust on which the Cathedral is held required a cathedral to exist on the site, rather than a cathedral in a specific design and form.  Importantly, the Judge declined to set the decision aside.

Keep reading...


Plain Packaging for Tobacco [2012] NZLJ 246

On 19 April 2012 the Hon Tariana Turia announced that the government had agreed in principle to move towards the introduction of a plain packaging regime for tobacco in alignment with that in Australia, which is due to come into force in December this year. The issue is currently going out for public consultation.  The Australian regime introduces rigorous requirements that will homogenise the packaging for tobacco products so as to (so the tobacco companies say) make them indistinguishable.

Keep reading...


Earthquakes, mortagees and lessees [2011] NZLJ 301

The Canterbury earthquakes have given rise to more than just seismic aftershocks. The legal consequences are only just beginning to be felt. Issues have been raised that have not been considered before and from which there are no easy answers.

Keep reading...


Contract: Missed Opportunity? [2010] NZLJ 50

In Vector Gas Ltd v Bay of Plenty Energy Ltd [2010] NZSC 5 the Supreme Court confronted the questions of contractual interpretation, and of what extrinsic evidence may be adduced to prove the meaning of contractual terms. Throughout the 20th century the parol evidence rule, under which the admission of extrinsic evidence to assist in the interpretation of contracts was severely limited, was gradually worn down, primarily through the creation of numerous exceptions combinedwith a judicial re-examination of the principles of contractual interpretation. The result is an area of law that is over-complicated, which hampers the ability of practitioners to provide sound advice to clients.

Keep reading...


Section 11 Contractual Remedies Act 1979 - Unintended Consequences?

In 1979 Parliament significantly changed the law of contract in New Zealand by enacting the Contractual Remedies Act 1979.  That Act arose from recommendations made by the Contracts and Commercial Law Reform Committee in its 1967 Report on Misrepresentation and Breach of Contract.  The Act both changed and codified the law relating to the cancellation of contracts, damages for breach of contract, and damages for misrepresentation which induced entry into a contract.

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Save Our Arts Centre - Response to the Opinion of Crown Law

The decision that Crown Law has reached is open to challenge in two ways. First, for such a significant
decision for Christchurch it has come about through an inadequate process. Second, it has failed to
consider the issues properly. Unfortunately, Crown Law has formed its view on limited evidence.

Keep reading...


The Anti-Smacking Law: Implications for Judicial Review

The debate about the amendment to Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 produced so much heat that it must have contributed to global warming.  However, the compromise agreed between National and Labour prior to the passing of the Amendment Bill introduced a new clause which has ramifications beyond the mere removal of the previous defence to assault on a child.

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Cain v Mettrick [2019] NZAR 668
  • Cullen Group Limited v Commissioner of Inland Revenue (2019) NZTC 24-003
  • McLaughlin v McLaughlin (2018) 4 NZTR 28-033, [2019] NZAR 286
  • Commissioner of Inland Revenue v Cullen Group Ltd (2018) 28 NZTC 23-059
  • Darlow v Raymond [2017] 3 NZLR 353
  • Presbyterian Support (Upper South Island) v The New Zealand Guardian Trust Company Ltd [2017] NZAR 84
  • Re Utterson-Kelson (No 2) [2015] NZAR 1488
  • Re Utterson-Kelson [2015] NZAR 922
  • Cunningham v Butterfield (2014) 22 PRNZ 521
  • J v J [2015] NZAR 861
  • Satterthwaite v Gough Holdings Ltd [2015] NZCCLR 15
  • Dalian Deepwater Developer Ltd v Dybdahl [2015] 3 NZLR 260
  • Holler v Osaki [2014] NZAR 1001
  • Holler v Osaki [2014] NZAR 1991
  • Holler v Osaki [2014] 3 NZLR 791
  • Great Christchurch Buildings Trust v Church Property Trustees [2014] 3 NZLR 236
  • Gough v Strahl [2013] 3 NZTR 23-019
  • Great Christchurch Buildings Trust v Church Property Trustees [2013] 2 NZLR 230
  • Great Christchurch Buildings Trust v Church Property Trustees [2013] 3 NZLR 597
  • Church Property Trustees v Attorney-General [2013] 2 NZLR 428
  • AMI Insurance Ltd v Devcich [2011] 16 ANZ Insurance Cases 61-895 (CA)
  • Howe v Keown [2011] NZAR 764
  • F M Custodians Ltd v Pinot Rouge New Zealand Ltd [2011] 12 NZCPR 155
  • Hagaman v Fairbank [2010] 20 PRNZ 68 (CA)
  • Kain v Hutton [2008] 3 NZLR 589 (SCNZ)


  • Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ)
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Trusts Special Interest Group
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Insolvency Special Interest Group
  • Ecclesiastical Law Society
  • Legislation Advisory Committee
  • Vice Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch

Speaking Engagements

  • “Family Law Arbitration: How to Enforce” - AMINZ Webinar October 2019
  • “Arbitration in Action: Principles, Practice and Practicalities” - Auckland District Law Society October 2019
  • “Royal Commission Update” - Independent Schools’ Conference August 2019
  • “Court Supervision of Trusts – the Principles and the Practice” - NZLS Trusts Conference June 2019
  • “Royal Commission Update” - Anglican Schools’ Conference May 2019
  • “Who should pay and when? Selected issues with costs in trust proceedings” with James Anson-Holland - Wynn Williams’ Trust Litigation Day April 2019
  • “When is a trust not a trust? A practical approach to the drafting of trust deeds after Pugachev and Clayton” with Shane Campbell - Wynn Williams’ Trust Litigation Day April 2019
  • “Courteney v Pratley and Re Beddoe – an examination of trustees’ rights to have litigation costs paid for out of the trust fund” - Wolters Kluwer Trusts & Estates Conference August 2018
  • “Constructive Trusts: an update” - NZLS Property Relationships Act Intensive June 2018
  • “Beddoes Applications in Trustee/Beneficiary Disputes – Process and Principles” - STEP New Zealand Conference June 2018
  • “Arbitration of Trust Disputes in New Zealand” - AMINZ-ICCA International Arbitration Day April 2018
  • “Keeping the farm in the family: issues in succession planning” - Rural Law Conference 2017
  • “Legislative changes in arbitration update” - AMINZ Arbitration Day 2017
  • AMINZ Arbitration Skills Intensive 2017, Faculty Member
  • "Trusts on Trial" - NZLS Trusts Conference June 2017
  • "Mediation of Trust Disputes: Risks for Trustees" - STEP Australasian Conference March 2016
  • "Construction Contracts Act: Trust Disputes" - AMINZ 2016 Conference: Dispute Resolution on the Edge.
  • "Trustee Liability" – Chartered Accounts Australia New Zealand Trust Special Interest Group 2015
  • "The supervisory jurisdiction of the Court" - NZLS Trusts Conference June 2015
  • "Contentious Estates" - NZLS Elder Law Conference May 2015
  • "Trusts and Relationship Property" - Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand Trust Special Interest Group 2015
  • "Trustees: Minimising Risk" NZLS Roadshow November 2014
  • Trust Arbitration STEP New Zealand Conference 2014
  • "Arbitration of Trust Disputes" – Arbitrators and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand Annual Conference 2014
  • "Corporate Trustees" - Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand Trust Special Interest Group 2014
  • "Role of the Trustees" NZLS Roadshow 2013


  • The Arbitration of Trust Disputes: Opportunities and Risks (The Arbitrator and Mediator December 2014)
  • Directors' and Officers' policies [2014] NZLJ 126
  • Farewell to Hastings-Bass [2013] NZLJ 249
  • Peer-to-peer filesharing [2013] NZLJ 172
  • Steigrad v BFSL 2007 Ltd [2012] NZCA 604
  • Plain packaging for tobacco [2012] NZLJ 246
  • Earthquakes, mortgagees and lessees [2011] NZLJ 301
  • Contract: missed opportunity? [2010] NZLJ 50
  • ‘Anti-smacking law’ and judicial review [2009] NZLJ 11(Link)

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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 25, Vero Centre, 48 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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