Our People

Dr Jonathan Coates

Partner LLB, BA, MA (Medical Law and Ethics) (Distinction), PhD (health law)

Following an early career in criminal law and civil litigation, Jonathan has specialised in health law since the late 1990s. After practising and studying health law in the UK, he returned to New Zealand to build a health sector practice.

In the early part of the 2000s, Jonathan undertook and completed a PhD in health law. His thesis examined the regulation of health professionals and health services, and considered the role that the law can play in improving the quality of health services. His research included an examination of New Zealand’s unique health regulatory system, with our no fault compensation system, the influential office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, and our progressive competence assurance legislation for health practitioners.

Between 2005 and 2012, Jonathan was a litigation partner at Buddle Findlay, a large national firm, where he headed up that firm’s specialist health sector team, and practised almost exclusively in the health sector. He left in mid 2012 to set up Claro.

Jonathan’s litigation and advisory practice covers the provision, regulation, funding and management of health services. He works closely with District Health Boards, private providers, insurance companies and professional indemnifiers, statutory regulators (such as the registration authorities operating under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act), aged care providers, primary care providers, NGOs, professional colleges and associations, government departments, and many other health sector organisations. He regularly appears in the courts, and before specialist tribunals.

Jonathan has been included in Best Lawyers in New Zealand in the practice areas of Health Care Law and Medical Malpractice Litigation.

About working at Claro Jonathan says: “Perhaps what I enjoy most about what I do is the variety. In any given week I could find myself prosecuting a charge against a health practitioner before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, advising on a difficult governance and conflict of interest issue for a DHB Board, working on some litigation involving the structure of health services or clinical negligence, advising on how to manage a practitioner who is failing, or seeking urgent treatment orders from a court for an incompetent patient.”

Jonathan’s experience includes
  • Acting in some of the most significant inquiries of the last decade, including the Whanganui/Dr Hasil HDC investigation; the inquiries into the high profile death of mental health patient and related damages claim; and the inquiries into the Emergency Department death of a young woman with undiagnosed meningitis; inquests into intrapartum deaths including consideration of national maternity services.
  • Counsel in leading decisions relating to treatment issues including; a hunger striker in prison refusing medical treatment (The Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections and Canterbury DHB v All Means All [2014] NZHC 1433); High Court declaration that it would be lawful not to reinsert feeding tube into 7 year old boy knowing death would follow (Hutt DHB v W [2011] NZFLR 873).
  • Counsel in a New Zealand Bill of Rights Act challenge/judicial review (and subsequent appeal) of a DHB’s decision to ban smoking in the DHB’s mental health facilities (Supreme Court decision  – B v Waitemata DHB [2017] NZSC 88; Court of Appeal decision – B v Waitemata DHB [2016] NZCA 184; High Court decision B and Steele v Waitemata DHB [2013] NZHC 1702).
  • Counsel in a High Court claim in which a group of general practitioners alleged a breach of contract by a DHB and a practitioner association in relation to the provision of after-hours primary health services (Dr Diana Scott Ltd & Ors v South Canterbury DHB and South Link Health [2012] NZHC 2764).
  • Prosecuting and defending cases before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal; and acting as counsel in appeals from the Tribunal – e.g Rabih v Professional Conduct Committee [2015] NZHC 1110 (professional discipline; approach on appeal; expert evidence); Tunnicliff v Professional Conduct Committee [2015] NZHC 1092 (penalty; appeals out of time); Professional Conduct Committee v Moon [2014] NZHC 189 (Tribunal’s jurisdiction to suspend an order of suspension); Winefield v Professional Conduct Committee VIC-2006-485-2225 (9 months suspension following a fraud).
  • Counsel in leading administrative law cases on statutory decision-making of responsible authorities (RA) under the HPCA Act – D v Physiotherapy Board CIV 2006-485-1980 (RAs making decisions about practitioners’ competence); Hallagan v Medical Council CIV2010-485-222 (limits on RAs’ powers when setting codes of practice); Cullen v Medical Council CIV-2007-485-1133 (RAs’ statutory powers to suspend practitioners).
  •  Habeas corpus applications (e.g. ST v Chief Executive of Canterbury DHB [2014] NZHC 1775.
  • Counsel in S v MidCentral [2004] NZAR 342 , a leading High Court decision on duty owed by a DHB to a third party and the ambit of s8 NZ Bill of Rights Act (right not to be deprived of life) – woman raped by mental health patient.
  • Advising health providers facing investigation by the Commerce Commission for possible breaches of the Commerce Act.
  • Numerous OIA and Privacy Commissioner complaints including successfully defending claim before the Human Rights Review Tribunal re refusal to disclose health information to dangerous patient; disclosure of official and personal information protected under the Protected Quality Assurance Activity mechanism in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.
  • Advising boards and senior executives on complex governance and conflict of interest issues; leading training for boards on governance & conflicts of interest, statutory duties.
  • Counsel in ‘treatment injury’ appeals under the Accident Compensation Act (e.g. Accident Compensation Corporation v Stanley [2013] NZHC 2765.
  • Counsel in leading case on what treatment constitutes “life preserving services” during health sector strikes (APEX v Capital & Coast DHB).

A list of selected cases can be found here: Selected cases
A list of publications can be found here: Selected publications

Mobile: 021 444 356

DDI Auckland: 09 551 0458

DDI Wellington: 04 550 5356

DDI Christchurch: 03 550 0500

 

Anita Miller

Partner LLB

Anita has specialised in health law since the mid 2000s. During that time she has advised on all aspects of law relevant to the health sector, including treatment issues, health information and privacy, ACC, and clinical negligence.  Anita is a specialist in administrative law and judicial review, and she regularly advises public sector organisations on good decision-making, governance issues and legal risk.

One particular area of interest for Anita is the regulation of health professionals. She advises extensively on the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, the core legislation regulating health practitioners in New Zealand and she has acted for the majority of responsible authorities established under that Act on issues relating to registration, competence, fitness to practise, professional standards and discipline.

In addition to health advisory work, Anita has a litigation background, having previously spent 10 years in the litigation team at a major national law firm.  As a litigator with a focus on the health sector, Anita has acted for health sector organisations in a variety of claims before various courts and tribunals, including regularly appearing in the District Court, High Court and Coroners Court.

Anita is currently completing a Master of Laws at Victoria University, Wellington.

Anita’s experience includes
  • Extensive advice to health registration authorities on all aspects of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act and assisting in complex governance issues, including advising on conflicts of interest, delegation of functions and the establishment of special purpose committees. Anita has also assisted with drafting policies and guidelines and regularly provides practical training on good decision-making and statutory processes.
  • Acting in statutory appeals and judicial review proceedings relating to statutory decision-makers, including a successful application to strike out a judicial review in which damages were sought against the decision-maker (Flett v Dental Council [2016] NZHC 358).
  • Regularly prosecuting professional disciplinary charges for Professional Conduct Committees before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, including acting in many cases involving practitioners practising without a current practising certificate; cases involving allegations of inappropriate touching; fraudulent behaviour; misuse of drugs; convictions reflecting adversely on practice; and practising while suspended for reasons relating to competence. Anita has also acted for Professional Conduct Committees in appeals to the High Court on the question of name suppression (see for example Kewene v A Professional Conduct Committee [2013] NZHC 933). Anita has also done defence work before the Tribunal, including successfully defending a health practitioner in proceedings about the non-disclosure of an underlying health condition.
  • Appearing for ACC in treatment injury appeals, including successfully defending an appeal to the High Court raising questions about the ‘accelerated progression’ of an underlying health condition. Anita also advises on the ACC regime, and the interface between ACC and litigation relating to personal injury in New Zealand.
  • Advising on the collection, use, and disclosure of health information, including advising on the discretion to disclose a confession of sexual violation, management of inadvertent disclosure of cancer patients’ information, and the interface between the Official Information Act, Privacy Act, and the Health Information Privacy Code.
  • Acting for DHBs in complex proceedings, including a claim seeking public law compensation for an alleged breach of the right not to be deprived of life and concurrent secondary victim claim involving various agencies; and a claim seeking damages for mental injury purportedly not covered by ACC, following sexual abuse by a visitor in the hospital setting. Anita also advises DHBs and other organisations on complaints investigation processes, legal risk arising from complaints, and the role of various investigative agencies.
  • Advising health providers on informed consent (including where patients were refusing life-saving treatment), treatment without consent, advance directives and treatment orders, the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, the management of patient complaints, and open disclosure. Anita has presented training sessions on these topics at DHB Grand Rounds and in other settings;
  • Preparing and obtaining personal orders under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, including seeking orders for the provision of medical treatment and living arrangements.
  • Advising and acting for DHBs in cases involving the withdrawal of treatment from a patient in a permanent vegetative state; parental refusal to treat a treatable condition in a baby with Down Syndrome; a proposed hysterectomy in a young intellectually disabled woman with a fear of blood; and surgery on Jehovah’s Witness child where parents were refusing blood products.
  • Acting at inquests; including cases with concurrent civil proceedings by secondary victims relating to the circumstances of death; suicides in mental health services (including where a patient had absconded); and emergency department deaths (including a pre-term baby thought to be stillborn).
  • Lecturing on various aspects of health law for University of Otago Health Systems Law intensive, including the beginning of life, natural justice and judicial review, and the regulation of health practitioners.
Recent publications include

Anita Miller “Health practitioner notification of competence concerns: patient safety v career suicide?” (2016) 47 VUWLR 641

Anita Miller “Sexual relationships and the elderly: balancing autonomy and protection” (2016) 8 NZFLJ 190

Mobile: 021 243 5361

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington: 04 550 5357

DDI Christchurch:

 

Wendy Beverley

Consultant LLB (first class honours), BBS, Registered General and Obstetric Nurse

Prior to practising law, Wendy spent several years working in the public and private health sector as a registered nurse specialising in intensive care and emergency nursing.  She then spent many years in various senior management positions in a major tertiary and teaching District Health Board (DHB).  Wendy also worked as a New Zealand delegate for the International Red Cross in several overseas postings.

Working as a health professional and manager, Wendy experienced many situations that involved complicated legal and ethical issues.  This led to her interest in the law and how the law could assist with complex medico-legal issues. During this period she completed degrees in commerce in law.

Wendy’s extensive experience working alongside health professionals and healthcare managers gives her a unique appreciation of the complexities, challenges, and constraints healthcare providers face in their day-to-day practice, and what providers need from their legal advisers.  Wendy has spent several months on secondment as in-house counsel at secondary and tertiary DHBs, and regularly provides legal cover for an in-house professional college legal counsel when on leave.

Wendy advises public and private organisations on health and medico-legal issues, including sharing and disclosure of information, consent, PPPR Act including urgent treatment orders and decision-making for people with mental incapacity, mental health and elder care, refusal of treatment, and other matters relating to patients’ rights.  She routinely advises on managing concerns about health practitioners’ competence or fitness to practise, clincial and corporate governance issues including obligations and liabilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act, good decision-making, procedural fairness and natural justice.  Wendy also runs interactive workshops on medico-legal issues, Health and Safety at Work Act, and privacy and information issues for health professionals and managers.

About work at Claro, Wendy says “I particularly enjoy working with our clients to find the best possible pragmatic solution to their legal issues, and sharing our knowledge so that clients can incorporate this into their everyday strategies and decision-making.”

Wendy’s experience includes
  • Advising on and preparing statements in response to Health and Disability Commissioner inquiries and investigations and Coronial inquiries.
  • Advising on minimising risk when introducing innovative practices including nurses diagnosing medical conditions; multi-skilling angiography staff to perform activities within other registered health practitioners’ scopes of practice; use of new titles; and new positions, including unregistered workers providing services.
  • Advising on treatment of children including when one parent refuses consent; child refusing parental involvement; parents refusing life-saving treatment; underage child requiring sexual health services; and disclosure of a child’s health information to parents.
  • Advising on providers working with welfare guardians and persons holding enduring power of attorney for personal care and welfare, and for property, including where there is suspected financial abuse, and complex family situations.
  • Advising on medication issues and the Medicines Act, including caregivers administering PRN subcutaneous medication to patients at home; accountability of registered nurses directing caregivers, and requirements/restrictions for dispensing controlled drugs; a doctor prescribing menopause medication without a face-to-face consultation, and a nurse dispensing on-going doses; use of standing orders for repeat prescriptions; and legality of electronic signatures.
  • Advising private surgical providers on regulations, by-laws and credentialling systems, and clinical practice investigations relating to practitioners with clinical privilege arrangements in private hospitals.
  • Advising on guardianship orders for unborn twins where the health of the twins was at risk, and the mother was refusing a hospital delivery and lifesaving treatment potentially necessary immediately after birth.
  • Advising on treatment of a pregnant patient with HIV who was refusing to allow practitioners in her care to be told of her HIV status.
  • Advising on disclosure of information to Child Youth and Family Service, and other agencies including a police request for the disclosure of information and property without the patient’s knowledge, and reviewing a clinical psychologist’s reports to CYAF Service where there was mixed information and threat of litigation.
  • Advising on disclosure of information about deceased individuals including where there are conflicting requests and orders from family members and persons holding enduring power of attorney.
  • Advising on disclosure to family/caregivers of mental health patients when the patient refuses family involvement (s7A MH(CAT) Act, s22F Health Act, HIP Code); disclosing statements of criminal or sexual offending, including ownership of health records and management of records when a GP practice closes/GP leaves.
  • Advising on legality and use of covert recording, retention of clinical photographs, and videoing surgery for live streaming at an international conference.
  • Advising on management of significant privacy breaches including where an organisation had fallen victim to a spear phishing scam affecting members nationwide; and assisting with responses to, and settlement conferences with, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
  • Advising on numerous requests for information under the Official Information Act including transferring the request to another agency; consultation on requests including requests involving government Ministers; withholding grounds and public interest considerations in providing the information.
  • Advising on legal obligations when a provider is aware of competence concerns with Lead Maternity Care midwife with access agreement, including advising on whether the DHB can impose additional access requirements, and reporting concerns to the Midwifery Council.
  • Representing health professionals before Professional Conduct Committees, competence review processes and health committees.
  • Reviewing policies and drafting plain language policies and legal compliance checklists.

Mobile: 021 245 4983

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington: 04 550 5358

DDI Christchurch:

 

Peter Le Cren

Special Counsel BA, LLB, LLM (Dispute Prevention and Resolution)

Peter is a health law specialist. He has spent 20 years in medico-legal roles, including 11 years as the medico-legal counsel for Auckland District Health Board. He joined Claro in November 2012.

Pete’s interest in health law was sparked by a period working for the ACC Medical Misadventure Unit in the mid 1990’s. That interest developed during a 3 year stint managing medical negligence claims for the Medical Defence Union in the UK. While in the UK, Pete completed a Masters in Dispute Prevention and Resolution at the University of Westminster, then joined ADHB in 2001.

Pete has advised on a wide range of policy, practice and legal compliance issues in the health sector. His practice extends across health law with a focus on risk management, medico-legal and privacy issues, including duty of care, consent to treatment and information systems. He advises on professional registration and employment matters, as well as organisational governance, statutory compliance and health sector contracting. His practice includes incident management and responding to complaints to regulatory authorities including the Health and Disability Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsmen. Pete appears in Courts at all levels, including seeking treatment orders for children in the High Court, attending Coroner’s Inquests or defending practitioners in the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Pete has extensive experience in mental health and public health. He has been involved in resolution of employment, commercial and practice governance disputes. He chaired the Auckland region DHB’s Privacy Advisory Group and sat on the Auckland Regional Public Health Service HIV Advisory Group.

Pete says “My passion is problem solving, in the creative and empowering sense of the term. Healthcare is complex and personal. Mapping legal strategies and solutions requires technical legal clarity together with sensitivity, practicality and insight. When it comes to legal advice in health the “how” can be as important as the “what”.”

Pete’s experience includes
  • Representing healthcare providers before courts at all levels.
  • Obtaining treatment orders for children and incompetent adults (e.g., DHB v Dee [2015] NZHC 304).
  • Defending Waitemata DHB’s Smoke-free Environments policy in a judicial review in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court (B v Waitemata DHB [2017] NZSC).
  • Routinely advising on application of the Official Information Act, Privacy Act, Public Records Act, and other legislation relevant to information sharing in the health sector, and managing associate complaint processes.
  • Chaired the Auckland region DHBS’ Privacy Advisory Group which guides the region’s DHBs on electronic information systems, information sharing and information security.  This included negotiation and resolution of concerns about information sharing systems raised by stakeholders in the region.
  • Managing responses to complaints and investigations by the Health and Disability Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner, and Ombudsmen.
  • Advice to various DHBs on strategic and specific information management issues such as child protection and family violence information sharing structures.
  • Advising the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) on a range of regulatory issues, including liquor licensing and smoke-free environments.
  • A member of the ARPHS HIV Advisory Group managing individuals potentially posing a risk to the public.
  • Defending healthcare providers in civil claims for damages.
  • Appearing in health practitioner disciplinary proceedings and appeals (e.g., Y v Director of Proceedings [2016] NZHC 2054).
  • Advising on the management of health practitioner competence and disability concerns under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.
  • Representing a large primary care provider in an employment dispute and associated mediation.
  • Representing ACC in treatment injury appeals (e.g., P v ACC [2014] NZACC 142).
  • Extensive involvement in Auckland DHB’s management of the retention of organs in the Green Lane Heart Registry including the crisis response and policy rewrite.
  • Representing health sector providers in negotiations with the Electricity Commission and electricity retailers on how to manage patients with electricity dependent medical equipment.
  • Advising on statutory compliance such as certification processes and conscientious objections policies under the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act.
  • Assisting GP practice partners to resolve disputes with a departing colleague over company shareholding, capitation and clinical practice matters.
  • Advising a DHB on contractual and public law obligations arising out of a locum cover dispute.
  • Defending a habeas corpus application (N v Bupa Care Services (New Zealand) Limited [2017] NZHC499; AN v Bupa Care Services (New Zealand) Limited [2017] NZSC 49).
  • Advising Auckland DHB on obligations and strategy in response to poorly performing providers funded by the DHB, including implementation of interventions.

Mobile: 021 544 420

DDI Auckland: 09 557 0357

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch:

 

Rachael Heslop

General Manager/Policy Consultant BA (first class honours)

Rachael is a policy and regulatory specialist, not a lawyer. In addition to providing consultancy services to clients, she also manages Claro’s operations.

Before starting at Claro in January 2014, Rachael worked in and for the public sector her entire career – both in the front-line and in policy and management roles. She has more than 12 years’ experience in health regulation both in New Zealand and overseas, including acting as Registrar of a small health regulatory authority,  and managing competence processes in a large health regulatory authority.

Between 2011 and 2013, Rachael consulted to a multidisciplinary authority in the Middle East, advising and working alongside local staff to implement robust regulatory systems, and building the capability of local staff to continue this work after the international consulting team’s departure.

Rachael’s experience has given her a strong understanding of the challenges and constraints facing health regulators, healthcare providers and government, and an appreciation of the need for robust policy which is implementable at an operational level.

While specialising in health regulation, Rachael also has policy experience in governance processes, and quality audit and process review skills.

On working in health, Rachael says: “Health is so personal to us all. When we or our loved ones get sick, we want to know that we can access competent healthcare services, provided in safe healthcare facilities. I like knowing that my work contributes to creating a better standard of care for health consumers.”

Rachael’s experience includes both New Zealand and international work:

International

  • Working with and advising a Pacific nation in the design of a regulatory framework that takes into account the realities of health practice in the particular environment, while meeting international standards of good regulatory practice.
  • Conducting a substantial review of continuing professional development (CPD) practices around the world, and using the results of this review to recommend an approach to an authority introducing CPD for the first time, over a five year period.
  • Conducting a substantial review of licensure examinations for medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy, and recommending a new approach for delivery of licensure examinations in a severely resource-constrained environment.
  • Implementing a new system for licensure of doctors, including an assessment process to determine whether each applicant should be licensed as a specialist.
  • Developing guidelines for healthcare professionals to identify and manage risk in the workplace.
  • Working in-country with local staff to develop their knowledge of good regulatory practice for long term self-sufficiency.

New Zealand

  • Conducting quality assurance reviews of regulatory authorities’ policies and case management processes and reporting to the authority on identified risks and suggested remedies.
  • Undertaking a review of a regulator’s conduct, competence and health cases since the inception of the HPCAA, to compile profiles of the practitioners referred, analyse the results, and identify trends and potential risk factors, to assist the authority in moving towards informed risk-based regulation.
  • Providing Registrar cover for regulatory authorities.
  • Undertaking a review of a provider’s recertification programme and providing a report to the regulator on the programme’s compliance with the regulator’s recertification programme requirements.
  • Researching and drafting cultural competence standards for health practitioners.
  • Managing, and working long term with regulators on implementation of programmes to ensure a profession, or a subset of the profession, upskills in a given area of practice where widespread concerns have been identified.
  • Managing consultations on a wide range of issues relating to health regulation.
  • Managing contentious applications for new qualifications to be prescribed under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.
  • Designing, consulting on and assisting a regulator in the implementation of a continuing professional development framework for a profession new to the concept.
  • Assessing regulatory authorities’ registration policies and workflows to identify efficiencies and recommend resourcing needs.

Mobile: 021 232 7421

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington: 04 550 5727

DDI Christchurch:

 

Aisling Weir

Consultant BA, LLB

Aisling is a senior commercial lawyer who specialises in general commercial contracting, procurement processes and the development and commercialisation of health technology. Prior to joining Claro in early 2014, Aisling was a Senior Associate with Buddle Findlay. She has also held in-house roles, first at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and then at Auckland City Council.

Aisling regularly advises on, drafts and negotiates a wide range of general commercial agreements for both public and private sector clients, including DHBs, Responsible  Authorities (established under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act), aged-care providers, professional colleges and associations, private hospitals, health care providers and other organisations in the health sector. She also has extensive experience in advising on procurement processes and preparing procurement documentation.

In addition, Aisling has a strong interest in the development, manufacturing and distribution of health technology products and is experienced in drafting and negotiating IP licences, R&D agreements, clinical trial agreements, Government funding agreements, quality systems agreements, agreements relating to the supply of raw materials and components, and cross-border distribution agreements.

Aisling studied at Victoria University of Wellington, and was admitted to the bar in December 2003.

Generally, there is no need for commercial contracting or procurement processes to be steeped in mystery or complexity. My focus is on producing clear, user-friendly documents that are designed to achieve my clients’ aims and objectives and ensure that my clients meet their statutory obligations and operate within their statutory powers and constraints”.

Aisling’s experience includes
  • Advising a DHB in relation to a multi-stage procurement of diagnostic laboratory testing services worth over $100m. Assistance covered the entire procurement process from advising on the Board and Ministerial approval processes required under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, how best to manage various conflicts of interest, reviewing the RFP, evaluation plan and other documents released via GETS and advising on the due diligence process and various aspects of the evaluation process, to drafting, negotiating and finalising a new long-term services agreement.
  • Developing suites of commercial contracting templates and procurement process documents for public sector organisations.
  • Assisting health regulatory authorities with various outsourcing and other agreements that require consideration of the authorities’ powers, obligations and restrictions under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, For example, drafting, negotiating and finalising an agreement between a NZ health regulatory authority and its Canadian equivalent for the provision of examination services.
  • Developing a bespoke template services and funding agreement for a DHB to roll out to all GP practices in its district. The agreement reflected the DHB’s dual role as DHB and Primary Health Organisation in that district.
  • Technology related agreements including negotiating a set of agreements relating to software to support a DHB’s provision of paediatric dental services; and advising on various IaaS agreements.
  • Various MOUs between public sector agencies.
  • Advising on the Age Related Residential Care Services Agreement (ARRC) and drafting various types of Admission Agreements for service providers.
  • Advising on funding and collaborative agreements between DHBs and charitable organisations.
  • Advising on Clinical Trial Agreements and structures for undertaking clinical research.
  • Drafting, negotiating and finalising agreements relating to the commercialisation and marketing of medical devices including IP licences, R&D related agreements, Government funding agreements, quality systems agreements, agreements for the supply of raw materials and components and distribution agreements.

Mobile: 021 223 2701

DDI Auckland: 09 551 0459

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch:

 

Belinda Johns

Consultant BA, LLB (Hons)

Belinda has spent the majority of her legal career specialising in health law, acting primarily for patients and family members in the civil context.  She has played a significant role in not only obtaining remedies for clients both within and outside of the ACC system, but also contributing to the development of the law itself in New Zealand.  A successful appeal to the Privy Council on the issue of medical negligence has been a career highlight (A v Bottrill).

As a result, Belinda brings a unique perspective to Claro.  She knows what patients need when things go wrong, and, conversely, what health professionals need to do to avoid legal intervention and to minimise risk.  Belinda also has a particular interest in clinical processes, risk management and patient care from a medico-legal point of view.

Belinda enjoys working alongside health professionals and specialists, assisting and supporting them with their clinical practices and pre-empting potential issues and resolving any disputes that may arise.

Of working in health, Belinda says: “When things go wrong it’s an incredibly emotional and stressful time for all involved. Getting to the heart of a problem is what motivates me, while striving to obtain practical and pragmatic solutions before each party gets too entrenched. We operate within a distinctively unique framework in New Zealand with the existence of ACC and the inability to sue. While this affords health professionals with a certain level of protection, best clinical practice and risk management remains the key.”

Belinda’s experience includes:
  • Acting for health practitioners on disciplinary issues, including a case involving breach of patient privacy and confidential information
  • Advising and acting for DHBs at inquests
  • Prosecuting and defending health professionals on professional misconduct charges before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Instructing and working with expert witnesses, often on involved and technical medical issues
  • Advising private hospitals in regard to day to day management of both staffing and clinical practice issues, and in relation to complaints before the Health and Disability Commissioner
  • Acting for ACC in review proceedings where entitlements to cover arise from complex clinical situations
  • Appearing in the Privy Council: A v Bottrill [2003] 2 NZLR 721 (PC) – successful appeal of A v Bottrill [2001] 3 NZLR CA: exemplary damages for medical negligence
  • Assisting senior counsel on other landmark and test cases involving exemplary damages; mental injury (“nervous shock”), including the vicarious liability of district health boards; breach of fiduciary duty; disclosure of counselling notes; as well as damages for the cost of raising a child following a failed vasectomy.
  • Appearing in the High Court on time limitation issues (including a breach of fiduciary claim against a psychologist and historic sexual abuse cases)
  • Appearing in ACC tribunals and appeal authorities, mainly in regard to treatment injuries and claimants’ levels of entitlements
  • Prosecuting medical students for misconduct on behalf of the University of Auckland Disciplinary Tribunal and defending a dentist in the Dentists Disciplinary Tribunal (now Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal)
  • Liaising with the Health and Disability Commissioner on behalf of clients in respect of investigations into health practitioners and their conduct in accordance with the Code of Patient Rights
  • Assisting counsel at government inquiries: the Gisborne Cervical Cancer Inquiry (2000) and the Review of Processes Concerning Adverse Events Inquiry (2001), “the Cull Report”
  • Preparing for and attending inquests on behalf of families of the deceased
  • Senior Associate in the personal litigation team of a large Auckland law firm
  • Additional litigation expertise in:
      • Estate claims (breach of moral duty, lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence)
      • Defamation
      • Relationship property and trust issues
      • Other tortious wrongs (assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress)
      • Various commercial disputes
  • Preparing continuing education seminars for the legal profession (New Zealand Law Society, Auckland District Law Society and LexisNexis) and for the Auckland Medico-Legal Society; and presenting an employment law update to accountants.

Mobile: 021 103 1617

DDI Auckland: 09 557 0343

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch:

 

Sonya Hill

Consultant BA, LLB, LLM (Corporate and Commercial Law) (first class honours)

Sonya is a senior commercial and intellectual property lawyer and has worked for leading law firms in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Prior to joining Claro, she worked as a Senior Associate at Simpson Grierson, and in law firms and in-house roles both in New Zealand and internationally.

Sonya advises on a wide range of commercial and intellectual property related issues, with a focus on the health sector.

Her commercial intellectual property experience includes drafting and negotiating various commercial agreements in relation to licensing, technology supply, research and development, service provision and confidentiality/non-disclosure. Her experience also covers drafting franchise agreements, and advising on both contentious and non-contentious aspects of intellectual property law.  She has advised on a wide range of intellectual property related issues including the protection, exploitation and enforcement of intellectual property.  Sonya has a particular interest in the commercialisation of all types of intellectual property within the health sector.

Sonya advises on a wide range of commercial health sector issues for both public and private health sector entities.  She has drafted and negotiated numerous commercial contracts, including services agreements, regulatory assessor agreements, clinical trial agreements and admission agreements.  She also advises on RFP documents and procurement processes and all aspects of the Age Related Residential Care Services Agreement.

Sonya also has an interest in governance issues for a range of legal entities.  She has advised on various governance issues for health regulatory authorities, incorporated societies providing health services, professional Colleges, health providers, companies and other business entities within the sector.

Sonya is a member of the Intellectual Property Society of Australia and New Zealand (IPSANZ) and a committee member of the Canterbury Elder Law Special Interest Group.

Of working at Claro, Sonya says:  “Working as a lawyer in the health sector is very rewarding.  There is a huge range and diversity of legal issues that arise in the commercial context.  I enjoy the complexity and challenge associated with obtaining the best outcome for my clients, as well as the very human aspect of this area of the law.” 

Sonya’s experience includes:
  • Reviewing and advising on RFP documents and procurement process relating to cleaning services, and drafting, negotiating and finalising the resulting cleaning service agreement.
  • Drafting, negotiating and finalising agreements to transition the provision of diagnostic laboratory testing services from two current suppliers to a new supplier as a result of a procurement process.
  • Drafting and negotiating a bespoke collaborative services agreement for the provision of midwifery services for a DHB and advising on related statutory obligations (including the Crown funding agreement and Ministry of Health Operational Policy Framework).
  • Drafting and advising on accreditation and re-accreditation services agreements and related statutory obligations for a regulatory authority.
  • Drafting and advising on Clinical Trial Agreements and structures for undertaking clinical research.
  • Drafting and negotiating various Service Agreements for regulatory bodies, professional registration authorities, crown entities and private businesses.
  • Drafting and advising on Primary Care, Standard of Care and Maternity Service Agreements for various statutory organisations (DHBs).
  • Advising on obligations under the Age Related Residential Care Services Agreement (ARRC) and negotiating on behalf of service providers, drafting Admission Agreements for service providers.
  • Advising on the process for dissolving a Partnership JV and drafting all related agreements and governance documentation.
  • Advising on governance and policy issues for crown entities, incorporated societies, professional registration authorities and regulatory bodies.
  • Advising on various contractual disputes and issues relating to the interpretation of commercial contracts for healthcare providers, regulatory bodies and professional registration authorities.
  • Drafting and negotiating IP licence and sub-licence agreements, IP assignments, franchise agreements and advertising agreements.
  • Advising on trade mark portfolio structuring and protection including registration, infringement, oppositions and brand management.  Advising on advertising content, domain name registration and website content.
  • Intellectual Property advice in relation to the ownership, protection and commercialisation of all types of intellectual property in the health sector for private businesses, statutory organisations, public healthcare providers and crown entities.

Mobile: 021 0249 4607

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch: 03 372 1090

 

Catherine Deans

Senior Solicitor LLB (first class honours), BA (Psychology), LLM

Catherine joined Claro in February 2015.  Having developed a strong interest in the crossroads between law and medicine during her undergraduate studies, she obtained top marks in a number of health law papers.  In addition to completing a LLB (Hons), Catherine also gained a BA in Psychology from Otago University.  Her dual-discipline studies helped to nurture a particular passion for the legal issues that arise within the mental health system.

At the University of Toronto, Catherine continued to pursue her interest in health law as a postgraduate student.  Her LLM thesis focused on the extent to which different stakeholders in the healthcare system are involved in medical decision-making at end-of-life.

Catherine began her legal career in the litigation team at Chapman Tripp, where she worked on a number of high-profile commercial disputes.  She has also spent time working in New Delhi, India, for a human rights law firm, where her role involved exploring legal avenues to ensure greater access to medicines in developing countries.

Catherine advises on a wide range of legal issues relevant to the health sector, including patient rights, health information privacy issues, ACC and treatment injuries, treatment issues (consent, withdrawal of treatment, sterilisation, and obtaining urgent treatment orders), and complaints against health sector agencies.  Catherine has acted as junior counsel in the High Court and before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal; and as sole counsel in the District Court.  She has also presented seminars on health law issues and contributed to international legal blogs on health ethics and human rights.

Catherine was awarded a 2016 Pegasus Scholarship to spend six weeks working with barristers from leading chambers in London.

 Catherine’s experience includes
  • Advising DHBs on treatment issues including the proposed sterilisation of intellectually disabled minors, the legality of providing rare and controversial forms of treatment, the use of “off-label” medicine, and administering blood products to a Jehovah’s Witness child.
  • Advising healthcare providers on the management of information requests under the Privacy Act and the Official Information Act, including on open disclosure requirements and in relation to complaints to the Privacy Commissioner, Ombudsman and the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
  • Counsel for DHBs and private healthcare providers on proceedings under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.
  • Advising regulators of health practitioners on aspects of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 including the relevance of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997, how to implement government policy initiatives within the regulatory framework, and disciplinary and competence review processes.
  • Advising and acting for healthcare providers and individual health practitioners on employment and professional disciplinary matters, including in relation to charges laid before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and on appeals to the High Court.
  • Acting for individual health practitioners in Coroners’ inquests, including complex cases involving self-inflicted prisoner deaths, and deaths in mental health services.
  • Advising and representing DHBs and other crown entities on human rights issues, including on aspects of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, defending habeas corpus claims, and on the existence and impact of common law rights.
  • Advising a tele-health start-up on legal and regulatory issues relevant to healthcare providers setting up and operating a business within New Zealand, including the Health and Disability Consumers’ Code of Rights, the Health Information Privacy Code, and the Fair Trading Act 1986.
  • Counsel for ACC in statutory appeals in relation to treatment injury claims under the Accident Compensation Act 2001

Mobile: 027 358 8005

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch: 03 550 0453

 

Sharon Finlayson

Administration Assistant

Sharon has previously worked in a variety of office administration roles in London, Sydney and Wellington.  She started at Claro in October 2015 and is based in our Wellington office, providing administration support across the firm.  Sharon works part-time hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Mobile:

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington: 04 550 4073

DDI Christchurch:

 

Kirsty Carter

Administration Assistant BHSc (Nsg)

Kirsty has worked as a registered nurse in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, in a mix of acute, long-term, rehabilitative and community settings. This has given her a broad experience and awareness of health sector issues for individuals, families, and providers. A career break for children led to a variety of community and voluntary roles before she joined Claro in June 2015. Based in Auckland, Kirsty provides administrative support across the firm’s three offices.

On working at Claro, Kirsty says: “What I like most about working in the health sector is the sense of camaraderie and collegial atmosphere created when working together to deliver the best outcome. This is what makes Claro such an enjoyable and rewarding place to work.”

Mobile:

DDI Auckland: 09 557 0342

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch:

 

Trish Cross

Finance Administrator

Trish is Claro’s Finance Administrator and is based in the Christchurch office. Trish handles all accounts payable, receivable, and credit collection, as well as covering administration for the Christchurch office. Trish has worked in law firms for around 25 years and works for Claro part-time, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Mobile:

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch: 03 550 0516