Andrew Steele

Partner

Litigation/Corporate Insolvency/Employment

DDI:+64 9 300 7625

MOB:+64 21 673 252

Email:ajs@martellimckegg.co.nz

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Capabilities

Litigation
Trust and estate disputes
Property, building and construction disputes
Employment relations

Andrew is a tenacious litigation lawyer. He is focussed on achieving great results for his clients and brings a fresh and pragmatic approach to any dispute.

Andrew regularly appears as counsel in the District and High Courts, New Zealand Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court. He has also appeared successfully in the Court of Appeal. He represents clients in a variety of commercial and property disputes, and employment relationship problems.

Trust and estate disputes

Andrew has particular expertise in relation to trusts and estate litigation.  He works closely with the firm's private client team. He advises trustees challenged by disgruntled beneficiaries, and assists disgruntled beneficiaries unhappy with decisions of trustees. His clients include high net worth individuals and directors of trustee companies.

Examples of work
  • Assisting the settlor of a trust to undo the trust where there had been improper pressure and undue influence affecting how it had been set up.
  • Recovered damages for clients in a failed property sale agreement, bypassing the insolvent trustee purchaser and satisfying the claim direct against the trust assets. The vendor clients taking advantage of an underutilised legal tool known as the creditor's right of subrogation into the trustee's right of indemnity against trust assets.
  • Representing the successful party in Visini v Cadman cited in the High Court Rules and now the leading Court of Appeal authority for the legal principle that a trustee may retrospectively ratify and cure the unauthorised acts of their co-trustee.
  • Acted for disinherited children to obtain relief under the Family Protection Act 1955
  • Secured damages for a purchaser under 15 sale and purchase agreements which had long periods of settlement. The defaulted vendor was forced to complete the transactions.
  • In one of the first cases of its kind in New Zealand, secured a 6 figure pay-out for a client against her de facto partner for services as a housekeeper and mother of their own children on the basis of quantum meruit (i.e. reasonable compensation for "services" rendered on the grounds of unjust enrichment).
Andrew has particular expertise in relation to trusts and estate litigation.  He works closely with the firm's private client team.  He advises trustees challenged by disgruntled beneficiaries, and assists disgruntled beneficiaries unhappy with decisions of trustees.  His clients include high net worth individuals and directors of trustee companies.
Examples of work
• Assisting the settlor of a trust to undo the trust where there had been improper pressure and undue influence affecting how it had been set up.
• Recovered damages for clients in a failed property sale agreement, bypassing the insolvent trustee purchaser and satisfying the claim direct against the trust assets.  The vendor clients taking advantage of an underutilised legal tool known as the creditor's right of subrogation into the trustee's right of indemnity against trust assets.
• Representing the successful party in Visini v Cadman cited in the High Court Rules and now the leading Court of Appeal authority for the legal principle that a trustee may retrospectively ratify and cure the unauthorised acts of their co-trustee.
• Acted for disinherited children to obtain relief under the Family Protection Act 1955
• Secured damages for a purchaser under 15 sale and purchase agreements which had long periods of settlement.  The defaulted vendor was forced to complete the transactions.
• In one of the first cases of its kind in New Zealand, secured a 6 figure pay-out for a client against her de facto partner for services as a housekeeper and mother of their own children on the basis of quantum meruit (i.e. reasonable compensation for "services" rendered on the grounds of unjust enrichment).

Building defects law

Andrew has considerable expertise in the building industry and has acted for numerous clients in building defect claims (including leaky buildings). His cases include plaintiff body corporates in unit title developments and individual home owners as well as defendant professionals and construction trade defendants - through the courts, in arbitration and via all forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Examples of work
  • Acting for owners in a multi-unit body corporate situation in an action against the developer, council and other for defective building and inspection work.
  • Acting for individual owners in claims for defective building works.
  • Acting for vendors defending against claims for breach of warranties in sale and purchase agreements
  • Acting for disappointed purchasers against vendors of property with defects including building defects and properties otherwise affected, such as, with contamination as a result of being used for the consumption or production of "P".
  • Acting for builders and other professionals involved in construction and leaky building case disputes.

Testimonials

"Andrew was an immediate breath of fresh air, giving us his candid perspective of the merits of our case and outlining our options along with experience-based cost estimates, so we quickly and efficiently determined the best path forward. He then helped us bring our case to closure efficiently and cost-effectively by giving us clear and straightforward advice, and rapid follow-up on what we decided.

Most important to us was Andrew's humility, never treating us with anything other than empathy, respect and dignity through a very difficult situation of great personal stress and pressure.

I recommend Andrew without reservation!"

Paul

Recent cases

Visini v Cadman [2012] NZCA 122

Morgan v Public Trust reported [2007] BCL 114

Ginian Coy Ltd (in liq) v Glenvista Properties Ltd reported [2003] BCL 725

Memberships

New Zealand Society of Construction Law

Auckland District Law Society Civil Litigation Committee

Biography

Andrew Steele has 25 years' experience in civil and commercial litigation. Previously a partner at Chamberlains, Andrew became a partner with Martelli McKegg in 2006. He is a New Zealand Law Society Costs Assessor.

Andrew was admitted to the High Court of New Zealand as a barrister and solicitor in 1988 and as a solicitor in England and Wales in 1992.

Recent articles

Why loans and gifts need to be documented

Assessing testamentary capacity - is there really an important new development?

Settling employment disputes by mediation

Constructive trust claims against express trusts (Butterworths Conveyancing Bulletin Volume 16, Issue 7, October 2014:91-93)

When are producer statements supplied in the course of construction actionable?

Proposed increases to the size of Disputes Tribunal claims

Tips for better employment relations over Christmas

Employment law legal analysis - must employers redeploy redundant employees? (Employment Law Bulletin Issue 2 Apr 2013:35-37)

Leaky Homes:  Headcontractor not liable for work of sub-contractors? (Butterworths Conveyancing Bulletin 15(5) Aug 2012:57-60)

Mainzeal leaky building fallout