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Specialising in 

Strategic Assessment and Advice

Relationship, Trust and Estate Property

Commercial and Corporate Law

Dispute Resolution and Litigation




Terence Stapleton KC has extensive dispute resolution and litigation experience. He has appeared as Counsel in all courts, in cases ranging from murder to various civil and commercial proceedings, to proceedings involving relationship, trust, estate, and other property issues.


Terence was the Crown Solicitor at Gisborne and then a commercial litigation partner at both Brandon Brookfield and Simpson Grierson before co-founding Stapleton Stevens (a specialist dispute resolution and litigation firm) and later commencing practice as a barrister sole. In 2013, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel, now King's Counsel.


Terence served as a Member of the Commerce Commission (New Zealand’s competition and fair-trading regulator) for two terms and then as an inaugural Cease and Desist Commissioner under the Commerce Act.  He also served for a decade as an inaugural Member of the Domain Name Commission’s Panel of Experts appointed to determine domain name disputes.


He was a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators for 20 years, having been admitted as a Fellow in 1998, and as a Chartered Arbitrator in 2002. In its Centenary Year in 2016, the Chartered Institute invited him to submit an article entitled The Use of ADR in Property Related Disputes. Terence is regularly appointed to mediate, or to arbitrate, commercial and other disputes.


He has had a long association with the Law Society’s Litigation Skills advocacy programmes. Terence directed the 2015 and 2017 Advanced, and the 2018 Expert Witness, programmes. He was a contributing author to all three editions of the Law Society’s Introduction to Advocacy textbook published in 2000, 2008 and 2014. He has also lectured at Victoria University (arbitration, litigation and ethics).


Terence specialises in commercial, corporate and property (including relationship, trust, estate, and other property issues) dispute resolution and litigation. As a result of his wide-ranging legal experience and substantial public and private sector governance experience (including as an independent director of an NZX and ASX listed mining company), he is regularly engaged to provide strategic assessment and advice.


Terence's engagements include:


  • Mediations and arbitrations in his specialist areas of practice;

  • Complex and substantial relationship and trust and estate property settlements and litigation;

  • Companies Act litigation (various proceedings);

  • Body Corporate “leaky building” litigation, remediation projects, and Unit Titles Act and other multi-ownership issues;

  • Partner and shareholder disputes in professional firms and SMEs;

  • Commercial lease and franchise disputes;

  • Securities Commission, Financial Markets Authority and Serious Fraud Office investigations;

  • Diverse statutory matters, for example the Public Works Act, the Crown Minerals Act, the Overseas Investment Act, and the Resource Management Act;

  • Litigation relating to land issues (various proceedings).





The reported cases in which Terence Stapleton KC has been engaged as Counsel include:


  • R v Kirikiri [1982] 2 NZLR 648 – causation;

  • Brown v Reardon [1985] 2 NZLR 530 – accord and satisfaction;

  • R v Tavete [1988] 1 NZLR 428 (NZCA) – self-defence;

  • Official Assignee v Westpac Banking Corporation [1990] 3 NZLR 545 (NZCA) – assignment of book debts;

  • Commerce Commission v Wellington Branch of New Zealand Institute of Driving Instructors (1990) 3 NZBLC 101,913 – first defended proceedings for pecuniary penalties under the Commerce Act;

  • Sina Holdings Limited v Westpac Banking Corporation [1996] 1 NZLR 1 (NZCA) – leases;

  • Isaac and Morris v Unpaid Farmers in Weddel Receivership [1997] 2 NZLR 455 (NZCA) – retention of title to livestock;

  • Gold and Resource Developments (NZ) Ltd v Doug Hood Ltd [2000] 3 NZLR 318 (NZCA) – the principles for the granting of leave to appeal arbitration awards;

  • Sinclair v New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research Limited (2006) 7 NZCPR 254 – Public Works Act issues;

  • Taueru Lime Limited v Stiles (2006) 7 NZCPR 751 – option to purchase land;

  • O’Leary v Sentiero Properties Limited (2006) 7 NZCPR 869 (NZCA) – priority of equitable interests in land;

  • Congreve v Big River Paradise Ltd [2008] 2 NZLR 402 (NZCA) and [2008] 2 NZLR 589 (SCNZ) – interpretation of restrictive covenants over land;

  • Verboeket v Seaview Road Limited (2012) 13 NZCPR 215 – Third Party avoided substantial litigation costs by allowing Defendant to conduct successful defence of Plaintiff’s proceedings;

  • Potter v Horsfall [2016] NZFLR 974 (NZCA) and Horsfall v Potter [2018] 1 NZLR 638 (SCNZ) – separate, relationship and trust property;

  • Street v Fountaine (2018) 19 NZCPR 236 – equitable easement in land.


His pro bono work includes a decade as Counsel to the Worser Bay Life Saving Club Inc. He is currently Counsel to the Seatoun Heights Residents Association Inc. In 2020, Terence 

was awarded the annual Scots College Service Award for his outstanding service to the College Pipe Band and Scots College Rowing.




Address: Seatoun Chambers, Wellington, New Zealand 6022 and Beachville Chambers, Nelson 7010


Mobile: +64 27 291 4462


For any general enquiries, please fill in the following contact form:

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