Rachael is a litigator who has experience across a range of areas. She provides advice on public and employment law obligations, and appears as counsel in the Courts and the Employment Relations Authority, and in mediations.
Rachael specialises in public and administrative law, Māori legal issues and employment law. Rachael builds strong client relationships and is a trusted advisor to organisations in both the public and private sector.
Rachael has particular expertise in Māori legal issues. She has acted for a number of iwi and Māori organisations on matters such as settlement negotiations with the Crown, challenges to mandates and representation in both the Waitangi Tribunal and the Courts, and post settlement issues. She has also advised clients in both the public and private sector on their obligations to, and relationships with, Māori. Doyles Guide 2021 ranks Rachael as a recommended lawyer for Māori Law, Māori Land and Te Tiriti o Waitangi matters in New Zealand.
Rachael is ranked as a leading lawyer for public law in Chambers Asia Pacific 2022. She is recognised for assisting clients on a variety of public law-related issues and is particularly noted for her experience across litigation, employment law and Māori legal issues, with the current edition stating that she is “clearly an expert in her field” and combines a willingness to “allow clients to choose how much guidance they want” with “not being afraid to tell it how it is and deliver hard truths,” all within a context of “both immediate and long-term interests.” In a previous edition, clients noted her “ability to think laterally” and “clarity of thinking.”
Rachael is also ranked as a leading labour and employment lawyer in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2023 where clients say "Rachael Brown was outstanding. Her astuteness, approachability and quiet humour, combined with her expertise and wisdom, made a somewhat tortuous situation navigable." She has also been ranked in previous editions where clients have applauded her team's “responsiveness” and “ability to continually deliver during an extremely challenging period” and noted that Rachael “is highly adept at managing expectations”… “her pragmatic approach to providing advice and guidance and her ability to cut to the heart of the matter… is a key strength”.
Rachael was named as one of New Zealand Lawyer’s Elite Women 2021 which showcases women around the country who are working inside their firms, the profession and the community who are making real and positive change for good.
In 2009 Rachael was appointed by the Minister of Internal Affairs on the recommendation of the Attorney-General to chair the Forum for Complainants of Police Misconduct.
Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology
Advised on the establishment of Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, and providing ongoing public law and employment law advice to Te Pūkenga and several of its subsidiaries.
Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities
Acting for Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities in judicial review proceedings relating to the Wakatū litigation regarding the Crown's fiduciary obligations to Māori in the top of the South Island.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu – Relativity Mechanism
Advising Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu on all aspects of the relativity mechanism included in its 1997 Deed of Settlement with the Crown including, since 2012 when the mechanism was triggered, six arbitrations with the Crown to resolve disputes relating to the mechanism.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu – Takutai Moana
Acted for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in the first High Court proceeding to be determined under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (Re Tipene), and acting for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in relation to its own application under that Act.
Acted for a private provider of health services in a dispute with a District Health Board, and for PHARMAC in litigation with a pharmaceutical company on a contractual interpretation issue which settled before going to trial.
Acted for a number of iwi settling with the Crown in challenges to their mandates in both the Waitangi Tribunal and the Courts, and related proceedings including Waitangi Tribunal and High Court proceedings for Tūhoe and a High Court trial for Te Arawa which addressed fiduciary obligations. Rachael has also provided advice to iwi and Māori incorporations regarding their rights and obligations, and issues relating to the Treaty settlement process.
Advising clients in both the public and private sector on all areas of employment law including Holidays Act compliance issues, including providing ongoing advice to a government department regarding compliance with the Act, corporate restructurings, performance issues, and representing clients in contentious matters.
Advising clients on their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. This involves advising clients on investigations and prosecutions relating to health and safety issues. Rachael has particular expertise regarding health and safety issues in the electricity sector, including acting for Wellington Electricity in a prosecution under the Electricity Act by WorkSafe.
Investigations and inquiries
Acted on investigations and inquiries including conducting an independent inquiry into the abandonment of a race meeting for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and advising KPMG on its independent review of ACC's privacy and security of information.