Stephanie Woods

BA (Hons), LLM, LLB (Hons), Special Counsel

Stephanie is part of our national Dispute Resolution team.  Her recent experience has been primarily in acting for parties in a range of trust related disputes, acting for plaintiffs and insureds in earthquake insurance disputes, and acting for a range of insurers and insureds in professional indemnity matters.  She also has a strong interest in professional ethics and in public law related disputes, both at a local and central government level.

Stephanie was a Clerk to the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, during 2008-2009 and completed a LLM at Harvard University during 2010-2011 specialising in public law, professional ethics and tort law. She was appointed to position of Special Counsel in early 2022.
"I enjoy developing enduring relationships with clients and providing practical solutions to complex disputes."

Recent Projects

  • Providing advice to insurers and managing litigated PI matters relating to claims against engineers, solicitors and real estate agents.

  • Managing recovery litigation for insurers in a range of contexts.

  • Providing indemnity advice to insurers on PI matters.

  • Appearing in the High Court and Court of Appeal in a trustee removal dispute.

  • Assisting in the settlement of large scale residential earthquake claims, including attending mediations.

  • Assisting in proceedings related to principles of contractual interpretation as applied to a company constitution.

  • Assisting in a High Court claim relating to an expert determination.

  • The following are examples of Stephanie's legal work whilst at another law firm:

  • Providing a range of advice relating to appointment and removal of trustees, rights of beneficiaries, and the scope of trustee powers and duties.

  • Acting for valuers, engineers, solicitors and other professionals in professional negligence and breach of contract claims.

  • Acting for solicitors and psychologists in relation to complaints to professional bodies and to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

  • Assisting individuals, trusts and companies in settling Christchurch earthquake damage claims with insurers.

  • Providing advice to clients in relation to earthquake claims around policy scope, insurer obligations, and interaction between policy wording and legislation and local government regulations.

  • Providing advice to clients in relation to red zone offers and Council offers to purchase earthquake damaged land.

  • Providing advice to insurers regarding policy coverage and indemnity issues.

  • Providing advice to clients on privacy law obligations in a range of contexts.

Recent Articles


Insurance broker obligations: “care, skill and diligence” in practice

When an insured suffers a loss and discovers that their insurance doesn’t cover it, this usually comes as an unpleasant surprise. In some cases, they may look to recover their loss from their broker.

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Building law reform – risk and liability proposals

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) is currently consulting on a range of proposed reforms to building law. One area of consultation relates to the allocation of risk and liability in the building sector. One option being considered is a requirement for builders to offer guarantee and insurance products for all residential new builds and for significant alterations. MBIE has also considered, and at this stage rejected, changes to the liability regime for building consent authorities.

Keep reading...


Insurance contracts and conduct of financial institutions review – MBIE Options Papers released

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has now released Options Papers for its review of insurance contract law and also for the conduct of financial institutions. This article discusses some of the key changes being considered.

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Insurance fraud – recovery of exemplary damages

A recent UK case has provided an opening for awards of exemplary damages for serious insurance fraud.

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Review of insurance contract law – calling for submissions

Do not let the unlucky submission closing date of Friday 13 July 2018 put you off having a say in the Government's review of insurance contract law.

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Insolvency update April 2018

This article provides an update on insolvency matters with reference to recent case law.

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Insolvency update - voidable transactions and payments made by third parties

A recent High Court case: McCullagh v Robt Jones Holdings Limited [2017] NZHC 2182, provides an interesting illustration of the application of the voidable transaction regime to payments made by third parties on behalf of a debtor company.

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Proposed changes to voidable transactions: feedback sought

The Government's Insolvency Working Group has this week issued its second report, which includes its recommendations on changes to the voidable transactions regime. Two key changes are proposed.

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Bankruptcy: Court clarifies its powers to approve payment proposals

You are a creditor and have served a bankruptcy notice on a judgment debtor. The debtor puts forward a payment proposal which you reject. The debtor then applies to the Court seeking to set aside the bankruptcy notice and requests that the payment proposal be approved. Does the Court have jurisdiction to approve the payment proposal, despite the creditor's refusal?

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Debtor delays – strategic considerations on debtor appeal

You have obtained judgment against your debtor in the District Court or the High Court and are looking towards your enforcement options, such as bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings. But what if the debtor decides to appeal the decision – can you still enforce the judgment?

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The final word on disclosure of trust information to beneficiaries

The Supreme Court in Erceg v Erceg [2017] NZSC 28 has confirmed the court's important role in supervising trustee decisions to not disclose information to beneficiaries. In clarifying the scope of the court's supervisory role, this decision should assist beneficiaries in holding trustees to account.

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The rule against self-dealing

An important principle in the law of trusts is that a trustee must not, with some very limited exceptions, place themselves in a position in which duty and interest conflict. This is known as the rule against self-dealing. The Supreme Court has recently considered this rule in a decision in the context of ahu whenua trusts established under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 (Act).

Keep reading...

Reported Decisions

  • Ngāti Te Ata v New Zealand Steel Mining Ltd [2016] NZAR 38

  • Powell v Powell [2015] NZAR 1886


  • Canterbury Women's Legal Association


  • Judicial Immunity: State Immunity? [2012] NZLJ 6.

  • Regulation of Biotechnology [2009] NZLJ 388.
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