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Distinguished NZ Academic and QC – Now in Full Time Practice

Distinguished NZ Academic and QC – Now in Full Time Practice

Peter Watts QC – one of the world’s leading authorities on the law of agency and one of New Zealand’s most formidable experts in company and commercial law – has commenced full time practice at Bankside Chambers (Auckland).

Recently appointed as Visiting Professor at the Law Faculty, University of Oxford (UK), Mr Watts will teach there in October each year, as part of a select group that includes retired judge Lord Hoffmann, leading London QCs and other illustrious legal minds from round the world.*

Mr Watts, who has been a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and taught there for more than 30 years, while practising as a barrister part time, is sought after for his encyclopaedic knowledge of commercial law.

He edits the ‘barrister’s bible’ on agency law, Bowstead and Reynolds on Agency, the leading Commonwealth text on agency law, a branch of law at the foundation of contracting. “This text is cited in countless legal cases annually in the Commonwealth,” he says. “There are few commercial fraud or corruption cases that wouldn’t involve a question of agency law. The effect of using agents to make contracts is heartland commercial law. It doesn’t matter if the ‘agent’ is an employee, real estate agent, solicitor or broker: they are all within the compass of the subject.”

He is also co-author of Company Law in New Zealand. Mr Watts’ academic writing has been cited in the highest courts of the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, with judges in the UK Supreme Court referring to it as “characteristically lucid”.

In the UK, he is a ‘door tenant’ (works from other premises) at Fountain Court Chambers, The Temple, London – regarded as part of the UK’s ‘magic circle’ comprising five top sets of barristers. ‘Door tenants’ at the Chambers are a select group of 12 eminent, international experts. In that capacity Mr Watts has provided opinions in litigation including:
- Between a German utilities company and an international bank, involving corrupt intermediaries (England and Wales Court of Appeal).
- On the enforceability of a settlement involving a road accident victim, that person’s barristers and the driver of the vehicle (UK Supreme Court).
- An Asian Prince suing his UK lawyers in New York (NY State courts).
In New Zealand, his opinions have been widely sought for the country’s most complex cases in fraud, corruption, company and agency law. Mr Watts expects to practise more widely in commercial disputes, both in court and in arbitrations.

Mr Watts is also one of only two lawyers who is both a QC and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.


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