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 judicial review (and subsequent appeal) of a DHB’s decision to ban smoking in the DHB’s mental health facilities (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– 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 practitioner’s 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 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 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.

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

As an emergency and intensive care nurse, manager of emergency and trauma services, and a delegate working for the International Red Cross in conflict and natural disaster situations, Wendy loved working in high pressure, complex clinical and administrative situations, supporting colleagues, and ensuring patients and their families received the best care possible in the situation.

As a Business Manager responsible for a budget of approximately 35 million dollars and over 400 employees, she worked closely with the Clinical Leader to establish and achieve key strategic and business priorities within tight fiscal constraints whilst striving to improve health services and collaboration with other providers. Working as a clinician and manager in the health sector, 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 and law.

As a lawyer, Wendy has been seconded to tertiary and secondary District Health Boards, as in-house legal counsel. The combination of this coalface legal experience, and her broader background in health, means that she has a thorough understanding of the legal and practical issues managers and clinicians face in their day-to-day work, and she understands what managers and clinicians need from their legal advisors. She continually strives to assist clients find the best possible common sense solution to their legal issues, by providing advice that is pragmatic, easily understood, and that sets out the legal options in a straightforward and concise manner.

Wendy’s practice primarily focuses on advising District Health Boards, private hospitals, and other providers on medico-legal issues, including consent, substitute decision-making, mental health and elder care, privacy and sharing of information, refusal of treatment, and other matters relating to patients’ rights. She also routinely assists senior managers and clinicians in managing concerns about health practitioners’ competence or fitness to practise, managing requests for information, and how to meet public sector accountability obligations.

Wendy says “I particularly enjoy developing strong relationships with clients and sharing knowledge through interactive workshops, using case examples and discussion, to help clients develop their legal knowledge and understanding so that they can incorporate these skills into their everyday strategies and decision-making.”

Prior to joining Claro, Wendy spent eight years as a lawyer in the health law and litigation teams at a large national law firm.

Wendy’s experience includes
  • Representing health professionals before professional conduct committees, competence review processes and health committees.
  • Providing legal “in-house” cover for in-house professional college legal counsel when on leave.
  • Advising on and preparing statements for the Health and Disability Commissioner and Coroner.
  • Advising on several difficult matters relating to 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 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 legality and use of covert recording and retention of clinical photographs.
  • Reviewing policies and drafting plain language policies and legal compliance checklists.
  • Advising on medication management including remote prescribing and e-prescribing.
  • Advising on and reviewing private provider regulations, by-laws and governance documents.
  • Advising on clinical practice investigations relating to practitioners with clinical privilege arrangements in private hospitals.
  • Presenting training sessions and national seminars including on assessing competence in children to consent to treatment, managing difficult situations with incompetent residents and enduring powers of attorney and welfare guardians, open disclosure requirements, and practical implications for health practitioners and providers of amendments to the Crimes Act, lessons from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Inquiry, lessons from the medico-legal coalface for nurses working in the primary health sector.
  • Advising on numerous privacy and Official Information Act issues and management of privacy breaches.
  • Advising on private providers offering free medical treatment as a competition prize.
  • Review of private surgical providers credentialling systems and policies.
  • Advice on possible guardianship orders for unborn twins where mother refused a hospital delivery for high risk pregnancy, and stated that she would refuse to allow life saving treatment for the children once born.
  • Advising on medication issues/Medicines Act, including caregivers administering PRN subcutaneous medication to patient at home; accountability of registered nurses directing caregivers, and requirements/restrictions for dispensing controlled drugs; doctor prescribing menopause medication without face-to-face consultation, and nurse dispensing on-going doses; use of standing orders for repeat prescriptions; and legality of electronic signatures.
  • Advising on supervision of, and delegation to, health professionals; including using unregistered workers to provide health services.
  • Advice on legal obligations when provider 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.

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 regularly appears in Courts at various levels, including seeking treatment orders for children in the High Court, attending Coroner’s Inquests or defending practitioners in the Health Practitioner’s 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 various courts including for Coroner’s inquests and Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act proceedings.
  • Advising on the management of health practitioner competence and disability concerns under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.
  • Managing responses to complaints and investigations by the Health and Disability Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsmen.
  • Advice on strategic and specific information management issues such as child protection and family violence information sharing structures.
  • Defending Waitemata DHB’s Smoke-free Environments policy in a judicial review in the High Court.
  • Representing ACC in treatment injury appeals.
  • Advising the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) on a range of regulatory issues, including liquor licensing and smoke-free environments, and a member of the ARPHS HIV Advisory Group managing individuals potentially posing a risk to the public.
  • Involved in Auckland DHB’s management of the retention of organs in the Green Lane Heart Registry including extensive contribution to 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.
  • Assisted GP practice partners to resolve disputes with a departing colleague over company shareholding, capitation and clinical practice matters.
  • Chaired the Auckland region DHBs’ Privacy Advisory Group which guides the regions 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.
  • Advised Auckland DHB on obligations and strategy in response to poorly performing providers funded by the DHB, including implementation of interventions.
  • Routinely advising on application of the Official Information Act, Privacy Act and other legislation relevant to information sharing in the health sector, and managing associated complaint processes.
  • Advised on the application of the Public Records Act to a wide range of material held by DHBs.

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:


  • 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 an experienced commercial lawyer who specialises in commercial contracting, procurement processes and providing general commercial legal advice to private and public sector clients. She studied at Victoria University of Wellington, and was admitted to the bar in December 2003.

Aisling started legal practice at Buddle Findlay where she was introduced to a range of commercial work such as drafting and reviewing various types of contracts, and providing corporate, company and intellectual property advice. She then moved to take up the role of Legal Counsel at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, where she put her blend of commercial expertise to good use drafting and negotiating IP licences, goods and services supply agreements, research and development agreements and funding agreements. A large part of this role was the provision of legal advice to staff in the company’s offices around the world. Aisling credits her time at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare with honing her ability to provide clear, pragmatic legal advice to people from a range of different professional backgrounds and cultures.

From there, Aisling moved to the very different world of Auckland City Council, where she was part of the legal services team that provided assistance and advice on the Council’s procurement activities, management of community facilities, and arts and cultural initiatives. In this role, Aisling developed expertise working in a highly regulated environment, with the need to always be mindful of the organisation’s statutory mandate and constraints when formulating strategies and entering agreements to achieve its commercial imperatives. A highlight of her time at Auckland City Council was being the lead legal advisor to the team responsible for synthesising and streamlining the procurement and purchasing activities of all 8 local bodies in the lead-up to the Super City amalgamation.

Aisling then re-joined Buddle Findlay’s corporate services team as a senior associate. There, she re-established her corporate advisory practice by providing advice to various stock-exchange listed companies, and extended her expertise in public sector contracting by assisting with the development of a suite of commercial contracts and procurement process documents to be used by the new Auckland Council, advising on processes and preparing contracts for use at the Auckland Zoo, the redeveloped Auckland Art Gallery and newly constructed Viaduct Events Centre. She also assisted a wide range of private and public sector clients with their day to day commercial issues and one-off transactions.
Aisling joined the team at Claro in early 2014.

“The thing I enjoy most about my role is translating my client’s aims and objectives for an arrangement into a clear, user-friendly contract. The highest praise you can get as a lawyer is that you have brought clarity to a previously murky or confusing situation”.

Aisling’s experience includes
  • Development of a suite of commercial contracting templates and matching procurement process documents for a major public sector organisation.
  • Advising on the Government Rules of Sourcing.
  • Admission agreements for rest home operators.
  • Drafting and negotiating an outsourcing agreement between a New Zealand regulatory authority and a Canadian provider, with ancillary advice relating to the New Zealand authority’s statutory obligations.
  • Advice relating to, and negotiation of, implementation, licence and support agreements relating to a software system for managing and storing of oral health records for a DHB.
  • Funding and collaborative agreements between DHBs and charitable organisations.
  • Preparation of primary care agreements.
  • Clinical research agreements and advice relating to structures for the funding and undertaking of clinical research.
  • Intellectual property advice in relation to the licensing of trade marks, copyright and associated assets, and the ownership of intellectual property resulting from clinical and other research.

Mobile: 021 223 2701

DDI Auckland: 09 551 0459

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch:


Belinda Johns

Consultant BA, LLB (Hons)

Belinda is passionate about health law and has spent the majority of her legal career specialising in this area. During this time she has acted primarily for patients and family members in the civil context so brings a unique perspective to our work at Claro. Belinda 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 knows what patients need when things go wrong and, conversely, what health professionals need to do to avoid legal intervention and to minimise risk. A genuine interest in medicine itself provides Belinda with an analytical and technical approach to her legal work. She 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
  • 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 & 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 experience includes drafting and negotiating various commercial agreements in relation to licensing, technology supply, research and development, service provision, confidentiality/non-disclosure, and clinical trials. 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.

More recently Sonya has advised on a wide range of commercial health sector issues, including representing clients in respect of Age Related Residential Care Services Agreement variation negotiations and advising on Admission Agreements in the aged care sector.  She has also drafted and negotiated various services agreements between DHBs and Health Services providers and regulatory assessor agreements.

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.

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:
  • Preparation, update and amendment of Admission Agreements for aged care service providers and advising on ARRC related issues.
  • 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 governance and policy issues for crown entities, incorporated societies, professional registration authorities and regulatory bodies.
  • Advising on Partnership and Shareholder Agreements and related business structures for private healthcare providers.
  • Advising on various contractual disputes and issues relating to the interpretation of commercial contracts for healthcare providers, regulatory bodies and professional registration authorities.
  • 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


Catey Boyce

Solicitor LLB, BBiomedSc MBHL (with Distinction)

Catey joined Claro in 2015, having worked previously as a commercial solicitor at Anderson Lloyd in Dunedin. She was admitted to the Bar in December 2013, and graduated from the University of Otago at the end of 2012 with a double degree in Law and Biomedical Science. She recently completed a Masters in Bioethics and Health Law (with distinction) at the University of Otago, focusing on the regulation of novel IVF technologies in New Zealand. Catey has a particular interest in health law, and has been involved in advising healthcare providers and DHBs on a number of aspects relating to the provision, regulation and management of healthcare services in New Zealand.

In addition to healthcare advisory work, she has experience in a broad cross-section of commercial matters and transactions, including business restructuring, trust law and asset protection, contract drafting and review, compliance and local government work. She recognises her clients’ need for reliable and timely legal advice that is technically accurate while also offering a practical solution.

On working in health, Catey says “Health law has always been a fascinating and challenging field, and one which brings a steady stream of novel legal issues to my desk. One of my greatest sources of job satisfaction is the fact that I get to work closely with industry experts who are passionate about improving health outcomes for individuals and communities.”

Catey’s experience includes:
  • Advising on responses to complaints and investigations by the Health and Disability Commissioner;
  • Advising healthcare providers on the regulatory framework governing the provision of healthcare services, including health and safety issues, mental health legislation, aspects of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, the Primary Maternity Services Notice, and the collection, use, and disclosure of health information;
  • Advising on collaborative agreements between DHBs and primary healthcare providers;
  • Advising on matters relating to public sector procurement processes, including the Government Rules of Sourcing;
  • Reviewing and drafting various contract agreements, including independent contractor and service agreements;
  • Regularly assisting with the preparation of and advising on enduring powers of attorney and applications for the appointment of property managers and welfare guardians under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act.

Mobile: 027 380 1779

DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington: 04 550 5726

DDI Christchurch:


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 the management of information requests under the Privacy Act and the Official Information Act.
  • Advising and acting for health practitioners on disciplinary matters, including in relation to charges laid before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and on appeals to the High Court.
  • Advising a DHB on the proposed sterilisation of a young intellectually disabled woman.
  • Assisting in making applications before the High Court for orders for the administration of blood products to a Jehovah’s Witness child in the absence of consent from the parents.
  • Advising on the making of personal care and welfare decisions on behalf of mentally incapable adults, including on informed consent, the use of advance directives, EPOAs, Right 7(4) Consumers’ Rights.
  • Advising health practitioners on Coroner’s inquests, including complex cases involving prisoner deaths and deaths in mental health services.
  • Advising and acting for ACC in treatment injury and personal injury appeals.
  • Advising and appearing on behalf of DHBs and private healthcare providers on proceedings commenced under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act.


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.


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.”


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.


DDI Auckland:

DDI Wellington:

DDI Christchurch: 03 550 0516