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LawFuel's Lawyers of the Year - The Dotcom Legal Team

LawFuel's Lawyers of the Year - The Dotcom Legal Team

LawFuel’s lawyer of the year are a lawyer of the year team – the Dotcom legal team.

The three lawyers have helped steer some of the highest profile litigation the country has seen. Certainly it is some of the highest profile litigation seen in respect of one individual, the indomitable mountain-man, Kim Dotcom and his legal team lead by Queens’ Counsel Paul Davison with his two, Simpson Grierson sidekicks, litigator William "Willie" Akel and commercial lawyer Greg Towers.

This triumvirate has guided, advised and represented Dotcom in a global case involving a panoply of legal, political and even moral considerations like none other. The case’s circumnavigation of both the world and the law has embraced copyright and intellectual property issues, privacy, police powers, transnational law, extradition issues, political donations, surveillance law issues and more. It has transcended mere reviews, appeals, applications and hearings to become one of the most celebrated legal firestorms ever to have been unleashed in New Zealand.

Putting aside legal head in the States, lawyer Ira Rothken, the trio have battled from day one and in multiple courts, ranging from the original arrest and subsequent bail applications to more prolix arguments relating to the proposed extradition, the legality of the original raid, the seizure of assets, the non-compliant release of digital material to the FBI – from bail applications to judicial reviews and appeals. They might have been derailed by the freezing of Dotcom’s funds, but even that was released by courts that have been confronted with the Crown’s effrontery and apparent genuflexion towards the US demands for Dotcom’s extradition.

It has placed the lawyers in the spotlight, with some heavy words spoken and volumes of submissions prepared. Paul Davison QC said to the High Court at an early stage that Dotcom's rights had been "subverted" and the Crown case was "off the rails".

Matters hardly eased since with allegations about the spy agency, the GCSB’s illegal spying on Dotcom and concurrent issues creating a national furore and law change. The initial raid, with its 70 police and others was ruled illegal too. So too was the forwarding of digital material seized by the police and forwarded to the FBI. The whole Dotcom debacle created issues that raised the heat across political coals and disclosed scandal and ineptitude on a seemingly epic scale, encircling not just the Crown but the government itself.

Political and legal fallout has rendered the Dotcom saga one that radiated with thermo nuclear intensity. All who touched it were tainted, it seemed, apart from the lawyers.

The merits of the case as it stood originally were usurped by Crown incompetence and bungling. And at every turn there were the triumvirate of lawyers waiting to pounce and announce, litigate and appeal.

A large part of the battle, regardless of the larger issues as to Dotcom’s business model and how it stood legally for copyright owners, was being won on the public relations front as well. Dotcom was becoming a folk hero who played Father Christmas, as if he was Santa himself as some kind of gift to the country.

And so who else could take the LawFuel top lawyer award but the trio of Davison, Akel and Towers.

The Lawyers

Paul Davison QC is hardly a stranger to high profile cases, but the Dotcom case has sealed his reputation in a manner that will forever appear in his Wikipedia profile. A surfer and yoga aficionado, Davison has a focus that applies to his cases as much as to his exercise regime. A studied sense of drama makes him a compelling advocate and he handles both civil and criminal work with similar aplomb and ability.

The son of former Chief Justice and winebox enquiry head Sir Ron Davison, Paul Davison was nevertheless not necessarily focused on being a lawyer at first, but evidently found his natural calling. His pre-eminence and ability to grasp every factual morsel in his clients’ case, combined with his natural abilities make him a superlative advocate. And although acting for the rich and famous, he has done a hefty amount of pro bono and lower rate work too, combined with his high profile criminal prosecution and defence work, which is mostly nowhere near the charge out rates his abilities and reputation easily command.

Willie Akel, the affable Simpson Grierson litigator is no slouch, either. As one of the country’s leading media lawyers he has appeared in an array of media and defamation cases, as well as acting on various corporate litigation matters and has played a central role in the Dotcom litigation as it has proceeded through various courts.

GregTowers, the Simpson Grierson pointsman for Dotcom’s initial entrée to the country, has emerged from the corporate shadows to play a key advisory role in Dotcom’s activities, ranging from the commercial issues to attempting to secure better jail accommodation. He has been involved in the development of the new, Mega business as well as an array of issues, including an involvement in the anonymous donations issue that has ensnared MP John Banks.


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