Paul Heath QC

Present Position


Professional Experience

The Hon Paul Heath QC’s principal areas of expertise are dispute resolution, (primarily arbitration), commercial law, company law, insolvency law, equity, trusts and legal issues affecting Māori. He studied law at the University of Auckland, graduating LLB in 1978, and was admitted to the Bar later that year. During his time in practice, he appeared on multiple occasions in the High Court and Court of Appeal, and on three occasions in the Privy Council. Paul went to the separate Bar in 1998 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel that year. He was a Law Commissioner between 1999 and 2002, having been a consultant on commercial law issues from 1997. While at the Law Commission, Paul was responsible for overseeing preparation of the Law Commission’s 2003 report, Improving the Arbitration Act 1996. From 1999 to 2001 and in 2010 Paul was head of New Zealand’s delegation to Electronic Commerce and Insolvency Working Groups of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

In March 2002, Paul was appointed a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand, an office he held until his retirement from the Bench on 6 April 2018. During that time, he sat as a member of the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the Court of Appeal between 2003 and 2016. He also sat as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Vanuatu in July 2010.

Paul is a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand, and a Chartered Arbitrator.

Paul is based at Bankside Chambers in Auckland and is an associate of South Square in London, England.

Speciality Areas

Farm Debt Mediation

Former High Court Judge; appointed 2002 and retired in 2018. When in practice in the Waikato, prior to that appointment, I was engaged in work, including settlement discussions involving creditors of farms, during the financial problems arising out of the removal of subsidies in 1985. I acted for one of the major stock and station companies for most of the 1980s and 1990s. During my time in the Waikato I learnt much about farming practices and how best to resolve financial disputes when the underlying farming ability was good. During my time on the Bench, I dealt with a number of farm related disputes. Both before and after my time on the High Court Bench I have been engaged as a mediator, primarily in complex or high value commercial disputes. Co-consulting editor of Heath & Whale on Insolvency, the leading New Zealand insolvency text.

Paul Heath QC holds qualifications in the below primary sector economics and financial areas:

  • Implications of trading in global commodity markets
  • Role of primary and secondary creditors in farm operations
  • Land holding and business arrangements, eg family trust, corporate farmers, Maori land, lairage, sharemilking and cross loans
  • Farm financial and business planning tools
  • Role of cooperative structures and arrangements
  • Tax arrangements and obligations
  • Knowledge of insolvency processes including receiverships, and succession planning