Partner - Corporate
Sarah is a corporate lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience advising clients on public, regulatory and international trade law matters.
A specialist in enabling her clients to address the challenges associated with trading goods and services across national borders, Sarah is the only lawyer from a major New Zealand law firm recognised for Trade Law by The Best Lawyers™ in New Zealand and by the Women in Business Law Awards for Asia. She has market-leading expertise in the areas of customs and excise law, import and export controls and sanctions, anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations, anti-bribery and corruption, supply chain risk management, shipping and maritime law, domestic and overseas market access requirements, bilateral trade and investment agreements, and World Trade Organisation rules and disputes.
Sarah is also a leading provider of public law, regulatory and government relations advice. Her team is ranked Band 1 for Public Law by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022. She specialises in assisting private sector clients with complex, sensitive, and often high-profile public law matters. She helps them to understand legal requirements, conduct due diligence, capitalise on regulatory opportunities, participate effectively in regulatory investigations and public inquiries, present persuasively in disputes with decision-makers, and develop arguments and strategies that secure favourable legislative and policy changes.
Sarah has a deep knowledge of the agriculture and fisheries, food and beverage, transportation, postal and distribution, telecommunications, airports, and energy sectors. Her clients include Lamb Western, RoofTG, Masport, the United Kingdom Government, Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Fonterra, ASB Bank, SkyCity Entertainment Group, The Warehouse Group, Taharoa Ironsands and Maritime New Zealand.
Prior to returning to New Zealand in 2012, Sarah worked in London, Washington D.C., and Paris for 10 years. Before practising law, she was a regulatory economist and a New Zealand Government official. This multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary experience gives Sarah a unique and valuable perspective on international and complex regulatory matters.
Renowned as a strategic thinker, Sarah has clear vision, strong communication skills, commitment, courage, passion, and integrity. She works to understand her clients’ commercial drivers and provides responsive and tailored advice.
A regular contributor to thought leadership, Sarah has contributed to several books, given many presentations and authored many academic essays and media articles on international trade. She has significant involvement with trade-related boards and organisations. She is a board member of AmCham New Zealand (the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand), TradeWorks NZ (the New Zealand International Business Forum), and the British New Zealand Business Association. A champion for diversity, she is also a member of Trade Experettes, a global organisation dedicated to supporting women’s voices in international trade.
Sanctions advice, investigations, mediations, and litigation
Advising traders, banks, investors, insurers, and freight companies on export controls and sanctions regimes (notably those relating to China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela). This includes assisting with compliance assessments, customer and transaction due diligence, low-risk deal structuring, exiting business, contract reviews, and the production of sanctions compliance programmes. Also assisting clients with sanctions disputes and mediations involving counterparties and representing clients in investigations and litigation conducted by the New Zealand Government, including the Defendant in New Zealand Customs Service v Pacific Aerospace Ltd  NZDC 5034.
Regulatory advice, approvals, and investigations
Advising clients on the regulatory requirements applicable to manufacturers, traders and retailers of various food products, forestry products, pharmaceuticals, medicines and medical devices, body scanners, drones, hazardous goods, fuels, IT and radio equipment. Also advising on the regulatory requirements applicable to providers of sea, air and land transportation and freight services. Assisting clients to obtain regulatory approvals and participate in regulatory investigations.
Anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations
Representing manufacturers, exporters, importers and retailers in more than 20 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations conducted by the New Zealand, European Union, and United States governments. Also advising clients on related judicial review proceedings. Most recently assisted Lamb Weston and Lamb Weston Meijer to secure the successful termination of New Zealand’s dumping investigation into frozen potato fries and wedges from Belgium and the Netherlands. Currently representing Roof Tile Group in New Zealand’s dumping investigation into aluminium-zinc coated steel from Korea.
Public law advice
Advising various manufacturers, retailers, and service providers on the New Zealand Government’s Covid-19 related restrictions. This includes assisting: a building products manufacturer to secure authorisation to reopen during the Level 4 Lockdown; a mining company’s shareholders to obtain an exemption from managed isolation and quarantine requirements; and an aged care facility to terminate a District Health Board investigation relating to its visitor policy.
Customs and excise advice and investigations
Advising traders and trade facilitators on complex customs and excise matters and representing them in contentious cases before the Customs Service, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Environmental Protection Authority. Recently advised a freight forwarder on the potential implications of breaching rules governing the importation of fire extinguishers containing an ozone depleting substance, without the necessary licence. Conducted an internal investigation, drafted a voluntary disclosure to the Customs Service and the Environmental Protection Authority, and settled the matter with the Government without penalty.
Government lobbying and disputes
Securing favourable law and policy reforms for clients. Recently secured passage of an Amendment Order permitting hazardous waste exports to the United States. Also provided wide-ranging legal, technical, and strategic advice to a telecommunications company seeking Government approval to participate in the development of New Zealand’s 5G network.
International treaty negotiations, interpretation, and disputes
Advising the United Kingdom Department for International Trade on the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement negotiations and the UK’s negotiations to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. These ongoing appointments are for three years each and resulted from two separate competitive tender processes.
Leading a team of five lawyers providing a dairy company with comprehensive advice relating to the procedural, substantive and reputational aspects of a Ministerial Inquiry into a food safety incident.
- 2013, New Zealand
- LLB, BCA (Commercial Law and Public Policy) and BA (Politics), Victoria University of Wellington
- Board Member, British New Zealand Business Association, since May 2018
- Board Member, New Zealand International Business Forum, since July 2018
- Director, AmCham New Zealand, since May 2021
- Member, Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists
- Member, Customs & International Trade Bar Association
- Member, Food and Grocery Council
- Member, Law and Economics Association of New Zealand, Inc
- Member, TradeExperettes
- Agriculture, Food and Beverage
- Competition and Regulation
- Corporate and Commercial
- International Trade
- Organisational Integrity
- Public Law
- Sales and Marketing
- Partner in MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ internationally recognised Band 1 Public Law team, Chambers Asia-Pacific
- Recognised for Trade Law by Best Lawyers in New Zealand (2020 – 2023)
- Recognised for Government Practice by Best Lawyers in New Zealand (2023)
- Team ranked Band 1 for EU, Trade, WTO, Anti-Dumping and Customs by Legal 500 UK (2008 – 2012)
- Finalist for Shipping and Maritime Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Law Awards for Asia (2020 and 2021)
- Finalist for International Trade Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Law Awards for Asia (2020 and 2021)
- Finalist for Offshore Lawyer of the Year, Women in Business Law Awards for Asia (2020)
- +64 9 353 9776
- +64 21 919 343