Rob has over 40 years’ experience as an employment lawyer, most recently as a partner for 20 years at Bell Gully (retiring from the firm in 2018). Prior to that, Rob was at Russell McVeagh for 20 years.
Rob was one of only three employment lawyers ranked in Band 1 by Chambers Asia Pacific 2018 for New Zealand, and was one of only two employment lawyers in New Zealand to have held this top ranking for the past 10 years. He was also named as a leading individual in the Labour and Employment section of Legal 500 2018.
In this year’s Doyle Guide to Leading Employment Law Barristers in New Zealand, Rob is one of only two Recommended Junior Counsel.
Client comments in the legal directories describe Rob as “the best employment lawyer I have ever dealt with, especially in litigation,” adding that “he is a very calm operator and I really trust him.” Another client said that Rob “acted on a very complex mediation and is by far the most experienced in the field.”
Rob has advised many of New Zealand’s major employers over the years on both contentious and commercial employment issues. Rob also has extensive experience advising chief executives and other senior managers on offers of employment, their employment agreements and exiting their employer. He also has expertise in relation to restraint of trade issues.
He has appeared as counsel in many leading cases, and on hundreds of occasions in the Employment Court, the Labour Court, the Arbitration Court, the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Tribunal, the Waterfront Industry Tribunal, the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the Complaints Review Tribunal, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the District Court, and in arbitrations.
Rob has advised on and managed many hundreds of investigations, mediations and disciplinary procedures, and he has been involved in around 400 mediations as either counsel or mediator. He was a founding member of the Institute of Employment Arbitrators and Mediators Inc. and is a member of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Inc. Rob is also a member of the Australasian Association of Workplace Investigators (AAWI).
Rob was previously Chair of the Employment and Industrial Relations Law Committee of the International Bar Association, and he is a former member of the Executive Council of the Global Employment Institute. Rob was for 20 years a part-time lecturer on employment law at Auckland University Law School.
Rob is available to be engaged as a mediator in relation to employment disputes, or as an investigator into employee complaints and employer concerns about employee behaviour. Rob is authorised by the Law Society to accept direct instructions from clients.
McKAY v WANAKA PHARMACY LIMITED  NZEmpC 79 Successful application for a sanctions order (defendant ordered to pay fine), after having previously obtained a compliance order (in relation to unpaid holiday pay) in the Employment Relations Authority.
LORIGAN v INFINITY AUTOMOTIVE LIMITED  NZEmpC 32 Successful application for a sanctions order (plaintiff ’s appeals dismissed), after having previously obtained a compliance order (in relation to unpaid costs awarded on interlocutory applications) in the Employment Court.
HARAQIA v ARCHIPRO LIMITED  NZERA 358 Successfully opposed urgent application by former employee for interim reinstatement
KANG v ONE PURE INTERNATIONAL GROUP LIMITED  NZERA 211 Successfully opposed urgent application by former employee for interim application
ASUREQUALITY LTD v NZPSA INC  NZEMPC 70 Dispute over interpretation of a clause in a collective agreement between the company and the union relating to shift work and payment of overtime rates for work on weekend days.
8I CORPORATION v MARINO  NZEMPC 69 Dispute over whether a term of a mediator-signed settlement agreement could be subsequently challenged on grounds that the agreement arguably contained a penalty provision void at common law.
LYTTELTON PORT COMPANY LTD v MARITIME UNION OF NZ INC  NZEMPC 6 Application for interim injunction to prevent threatened strike on grounds that no secret ballot had been held by the union.
LYTTELTON PORT COMPANY LTD v THE RAIL AND MARITIME TRANSPORT UNION  NZEMPC 179 Successful application for interim injunction to prevent threatened picketing on grounds of unlawful inducement of breach of contract and unlawful interference with business interests (believed to be the first time such an order has been made by the Employment Court).
LYTTELTON PORT COMPANY LTD v RMTU  NZEMPC 173 Successful application for interim injunction to prevent threatened strike on grounds of that strike notice (in an essential industry) was defective.
HP NEW ZEALAND v KEOGAN  NZERA 114 Successful application for an urgent order to restrain the employee from breaching a non-compete restraint in his employment agreement, thereby precluding him from commencing employment with a competitor.
PULP AND PAPER INDUSTRY COUNCIL OF THE MANUFACTURING AND CONSTRUCTION WORKERS UNION v OJI FIBER SOLUTIONS (NZ) LTD AND CARTER HOLT HARVEY LTD  NZEMPC 113 Successfully representing CHH following the $1.2b sale of its pulp and paper division to Oji, in relation to a dispute over the interpretation and application of provisions in a collective agreement relation to holiday pay, also requiring consideration of the Holidays Act 2003.
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK NA v LEWIS  3 NZLR 114 (CA) Successful appeal from a judgment of the Employment Court in relation to whether the EC had jurisdiction in relation to uncertified settlement agreements.