Public law

Our public law practice is known for the depth and breadth of its experience advising both central and local Government, together with clients who are interacting with the Government.

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​​We advise the public sector on its most significant commercial activities. Clients benefit from our commercial expertise, together with our deep-seated knowledge of how the public sector operates.  

We have unparalleled expertise in public private partnerships (PPPs) in New Zealand, having advised the Treasury on the model contract developed for PPP procurement in New Zealand and acted on the Crown side of all subsequent PPP projects in this country. 

We have acted on major procurement and contracting projects for public sector entities in the health sector and have advised education entities in all parts of the education sector (from early childhood through to tertiary) on both regulatory and contractual matters. When advising clients on procurement matters, we draw on our extensive experience to give boards and management of Crown agencies, and department officials, confidence as to the most practical and appropriate way to manage process and probity issues.

We also provide commercial and public law advice to a wide range of clients in the public sector. This includes advice relating to governance, financial powers and public accountability, policy development and decision-making processes. Our approach is to provide clients with results-oriented legal advice that withstands the toughest scrutiny, and our team of specialists work together closely to minimise the risk of successful challenges by way of judicial review or any other challenge. 

We have expertise in policy development and legislative drafting. We drafted legislative provisions and advised departments during the passage of legislation to implement New Zealand's emissions trading scheme and were involved in advising on legislation and the legislative process for the mixed ownership m odel process. We also advised on the establishment, initial operation and governance of a number of entities including Crown Fibre Holdings, PHARMAC, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, District Health Boards and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

We act for clients in public law litigation and significant inquiries and investigations. We have also acted for a number of public sector clients addressing compliance with privacy law in their organisations and dealing with breaches.

Our deep understanding of the public sector also enables us to assist clients who are interacting with the Government. We advise a number of clients on the management of significant regulatory, legislative and policy issues, including those relating to international obligations, and regularly represent our clients' interests when it comes to reform and in engagement with regulatory bodies. We have prepared submissions on a wide range of law reform matters in connection with primary, secondary and tertiary law reform.

Clients can also draw on the considerable legislative and political experience of the Rt Hon Paul East QC, a consultant at Bell Gully and former New Zealand Attorney-General and senior Cabinet Minister, in better informing and influencing Government decisions and in managing regulatory, legislative and policy issues.

Recognition for our public law expertise

"They are excellent, with a very good understanding of the interface between public and commercial law."

"They are professional, hard-working and responsive."​
Chambers Asia Pacific 2016 - Tier 1

"It's an absolutely top-tier firm with a very practical approach."

"They have a breadth of background knowledge which we've been able to draw on."
Chambers Asia Pacific 2015 - Tier 1

Public private partnerships (PPPs)
Advised the National Infrastructure Unit and the Treasury in connection with their proposed model form of project agreement for PPPs. Bell Gully also advised:

  • the Department of Corrections on the first central government PPP project in New Zealand, the Auckland South Correctional Facility, and on the Department's Auckland Prison PPP project in relation to a new maximum security prison at its Auckland Prison site at Paremoremo,

  • the Ministry of Education on its Hobsonville Schools PPP project, and the Schools PPP 2 project to build new schools in Auckland, Canterbury and Queenstown, and

  • the New Zealand Transport Agency on the procurement of the Transmission Gully stretch of a new Road of National Significance, north of Wellington.

Crown Fibre Holdings ultra-fast broadband (UFB) initiative​
Advised Crown Fibre Holdings on the New Zealand Government's ultra-fast broadband initiative. Our role included advising on the conduct of the competitive procurement process, leading all of the contract negotiations with eight bidding parties, contracting, company structuring and other issues. This included negotiations, governance and pre-structural separation aspects of the investment by Crown Fibre Holdings of up to NZ$929 million of complex debt and equity instruments into Chorus, the company spun out of Telecom. We are also currently advising Crown Fibre Holdings on the extension of the roll out of ultra-fast broadband in New Zealand which will extend UFB from a target of at least 80% of the population having access to UFB.

Mixed ownership model
Advised the Crown on the design and implementation of the mixed ownership model. We also acted for the Treasury on the Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power IPO transactions and advised Air New Zealand on the Government sell-down of 20% of the shares in Air New Zealand.

Christchurch Integrated Government Accommodation Project
Advising the New Zealand Government's Property Management Centre of Expertise on the Christchurch Integrated Government Accommodation project that is relocating 20 Government departments back into the Christchurch CBD after the 2011 earthquakes.

Laboratory services procurement
Advising Capital and Coast DHB (CCDHB) on the recent collective procurement by CCDHB, Hutt Valley DHB and Wairarapa DHB of laboratory services for the wider Wellington region. T​his involved a major service change as a result of the full outsourcing of hospital laboratory services, together with community laboratory services, to a single private sector provider.

PHARMAC establishment and operations
Legal advisers to PHARMAC since its establishment, including advising on public law obligations in funding pharmaceuticals, developing contract templates and tender documentation for the supply of medicines and medical devices to PHARMAC, and acting in litigation to which PHARMAC is a party, including judicial review proceedings, mediations, and complaints made to the Ombudsman.

Southern Response Earthquake Services ​procurement and litigation
Acting for Southern Response on a range of litigation and procurement matters. 

REANNZ's submarine cable
Advised REANNZ on its procurement of an anchor tenancy on the international submarine fibre cable network to be built by Pacific Fibre.

Auckland Transport projects
Advising Auckland Transport, responsible for Auckland's public transport system, on local government funding and public transport procurement. Our work includes advising on the designation of for the Central Rail Link that will link Britomart with Mt Eden station and create an inner-city rail link, the redevelopment of railway stations, on all aspects of the integrated fares smartcard system network with the Thales international consortium and on Auckland Transport's joint procurement, with KiwiRail, of Electric Multiple Units (EMUs).

Partnership Schools agreement
Advised the Ministry of Education on the development of the agreement for the innovative new partnership schools and in the negotiations with the first five partnership schools. 

Collective procurement for Government agencies
Advised the Ministry of Economic Development on the first year of its collective procurement of commoditised products on behalf of all Government agencies. Our role included supporting parallel negotiations with 24 suppliers.

NZ Transport Agency smartcard network
Advised NZ Transport Agency on its national smartcard network system project for public transport fares, including national interoperability standards and requirements.

Department of Internal Affairs' syndicated procurement
Advised the Department of Internal Affairs on the syndicated procurement by an initial cluster of seven government agencies of telecommunications services to replace the Government Shared Network, including the sale of the existing network assets.

Ministry of Defence procurement
Advised the Ministry of Defence on the upgrade of the Royal New Zealand Navy's ANZAC frigates, acquisition of light operational vehicles for the New Zealand Army and negotiation of the long term support agreement for those light operational vehicles, modification of the Boeing 757s owned by the Crown and operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the acquisition of the seven vessels which make up Project Protector for the Royal New Zealand Navy.

DHB Shared Services procurement
Advising DHB Shared Services (which acts on behalf of all 20 DHBs) in relation to the procurement of community pharmacy services across the country. ​This has included advising on the new contractual arrangements introduced to drive a more patient-centric approach to the provision of community pharmacy services in New Zealand.

AsureQuality merger
Advised state-owned enterprise AsureQuality on the merger of its Proficiency business unit with LabChek to form a new joint venture proficiency testing company. We were also independent adviser on the merger of two state-owned enterprises to form AsureQuality. The successful merger of AgriQuality and Asure New Zealand required passage of a bill into law, as well as Cabinet approval based on a business case proving its benefits.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) re-write of Rules of Racing
Assisted the governing body of thoroughbred racing in New Zealand, NZTR, to re-write its Rules of Racing (delegated legislation) and carry out the related consultation process with all interested parties for the proposed amendments to the Rules.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE)
Advised NZTE on the Crown entity governance framework, directors' duties, accountability and reporting obligations, on various cooperative industry initiatives and on issues arising from NZTE's selection criteria for funding of various industry initiatives.​

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  • Simon Watt

    Partner Wellington
  • Claire Harmsworth

    Senior Associate Wellington
  • Rachael Brown

    Partner Wellington
  • Tom Bennett

    Partner Auckland