Sarah Armstrong

Partner

Litigation

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Profile

Sarah is a Russell McVeagh board member and an award-winning litigation specialist with almost two decades of experience advising on a wide range of commercial disputes (both here and in the UK) including tax disputes, banking and financial markets, telecommunications, schemes of arrangement, company and securities law, insurance, product liability and intellectual property. 

Last year, Sarah was named 'Disputes Star of the Year' for New Zealand at the Asialaw Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Awards 2017, and has been selected as a finalist ahead of the awards this year. She is also recognised as a leading individual by a number of publications, including Chambers Asia-Pacific, Asia Pacific Legal 500, and Best Lawyers International 2018. In 2014, 2016 and 2017 Sarah won New Zealand Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year at the ILO Client Choice Awards (for which lawyers can only be nominated by clients) and in 2017 she was also recognised as a finalist in the 'Best in Dispute Resolution' category at the 2017 Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards, at which Russell McVeagh was awarded 'Best Gender Diversity Initiative by National Firm'.

Chambers Asia-Pacific (2017 edition) sources applaud her ‘excellent balance between strong advocacy and pragmatic, solution-focused advice, which draws on her experience and technical legal expertise.’

Experience

Sarah’s standing as a leading litigator and trusted adviser is marked by the range of blue chip clients she represents. An experienced advocate in her own right over the last 12 months she has appeared as counsel at all levels of the New Zealand Court system.

Recent experience includes:

  • Lead counsel in current complex High Court proceedings involving Fair Trading Act allegations between competitors in the NZ timber industry over the labelling of Laminated Veneer Lumber products.
  • Acting for Spark on successful urgent interim orders application in relation to the NZCC clearance process for a proposed $3.4 billion Sky TV/Vodafone New Zealand merger.
  • Lead counsel for Trustpower Limited in its application to the High Court to effect a $3.8 billion demerger. Re Trustpower Ltd [2016] NZHC 1838 and Re Trustpower Ltd [2016] NZHC 2499.
  • Acting for Siemens in a breach of contract and intellectual property claim against Contact Energy and GE in relation to the sale of electricity turbine (General Electric International Inc v Siemens (N.Z.) Ltd [2016] NZCA 591).
  • Co-counsel for Trustpower Limited in its dispute with the Commissioner of Inland Revenue over the deductibility of expenditure associated with the development of wind and hydro generation projects (Trustpower Limited v Commissioner of Inland Revenue [2014] 2 NZLR 502; see ‘A question of power’, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, February 2014) and subsequent appeal hearings in the Court of Appeal in 2015 [2015] 3 NZLR 658 and the Supreme Court in 2016 [2017] 1 NZLR 155.
  • Acting as lead counsel for one of Australia’s largest insurance companies in relation to proceedings involving complex breach of confidence allegations and other claims against a retail bank which concern the sale of bank assurance products.

Sarah has been a key figure in the firm’s multidisciplinary team of insurance experts since 2007. She has a distinguished reputation for her representation of major corporate insureds on a broad range of strategically complex and significant insurance matters involving domestic and international insurance interests.

Credentials

LLB (Hons), University of Auckland. 

Admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales (2002).

Professional

Sarah became a member of the Russell McVeagh Board in 2017 and prior to this, was the National Practice Group chair for the firm's Litigation group. She became a partner in 2007 and joined Russell McVeagh following her return from the United Kingdom where she worked for major UK firm Lovells. Prior to her time in the UK, Sarah worked for another national New Zealand law firm.

She is also a member of the Banking and Financial Services Law Association; co-authors both the New Zealand chapter of the International Comparative Legal Guide to Insurance & Reinsurance; and the Product Liability and Safety in New Zealand Chapter for the Thomson and Reuters Practical Law guide.

 

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