Sonya Forbes

Special Counsel - Corporate

Sonya is a technology, telecommunications, and data specialist with more than 20 years’ experience gained in private practice and in-house roles in New Zealand and the UK.

She has expertise in assisting clients with their IT, cloud computing, outsourcing, and complex projects. This includes reviewing, drafting and negotiating supply agreements for data centre and co-location services, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services, hardware purchase, software licensing, support and maintenance, software development, implementation projects, systems integration, agile delivery, and related procurement processes.  She also advises on general commercial matters.

Sonya has particular regulatory expertise in the Reserve Bank’s BS11 Outsourcing Policy.

Her clients include large New Zealand banks, blue-chip corporates, technology companies and start-ups, and public sector entities.   She has acted on transactions involving some of the largest names in technology, including Datacom, IBM, Infor, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, and Tata Consulting Services.

Prior to joining MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Sonya practised at other major law firms in New Zealand and during her 10 years in London worked in-house at Thomson Reuters (a supplier of time-critical data, analytics and networking capability to the financial services sector).  Through her in-house experience, Sonya has developed a deep understanding of business operations within large multi-nationals.

Clients describe Sonya as a positive, proactive, and focused business partner whose work product is high quality, thorough, and delivered on time. They praise her organisational skill, tenacity, and ability to analyse and find practical solutions to multi-dimensional problems, as well as her good humoured and collaborative approach.  She provides astute and operationally sensible advice to enable organisations to achieve their goals.

Sonya impressed one client with her “knowledge of agile contracting environments and by proactively bringing strategic insight early to the project.”  Another client has said: “Sonya Forbes has done a great job on a piece of work she parachuted into. The work was well managed, with some difficult issues. Sonya had a good regard of what is market and how to manage the counterparty personnel.  [The in-house counsel] was effusive with her views on Sonya’s work.”

Sonya enjoys sharing her expertise.  Her speaking engagements have covered topics such as cloud services procurement, DevOps, BS11 compliance, and blockchain.  She is closely watching developments on a Consumer Data Right and Open Banking in New Zealand.

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Professional background

Recent work

Transforming NZ’s largest city’s core systems

Advising Watercare on its Strategic Transformation Programme for both the critical technology infrastructure (cloud-based) and the associated implementation project (under an agile methodology) with Infor.  The process included concurrent negotiations with a number of major software providers.

Bringing Enterprise Agile & DevOps to the outsourcing relationship

Advising a large New Zealand bank on the extension of its core infrastructure outsourcing agreement.  Also advised on a new outsourcing arrangement which created novel contract structures to improve the delivery of workplace IT services, leveraging Enterprise Agile and DevOps principles.

Cloud services advisory to major corporates

Advising several large New Zealand banks and other major corporates in relation to strategic and business critical cloud projects with Infor, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce (amongst others).

Modernised University learning management system

Advising Auckland University of Technology in relation to a Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription agreement and implementation project with supplier, Instructure Inc, for an on-line learning management system.

BS11

Advising a number of large New Zealand banks on various aspects of BS11 compliance, including on prescribed contractual terms, compendium obligations, and separation plans.

Technology start-ups

Advising various start-up or growing technology businesses on their terms and conditions.

Acquisition of Timely

Advising US based service commerce platform EverCommerce on its acquisition of Dunedin-based booking software developer Timely.

Admitted

  • 2008, England and Wales
  • 1999, New Zealand

Qualifications

  • LLB, BA, Victoria University of Wellington

Specialisations

  • Commercial Contracts
  • Cyber Security
  • Information Technology
  • Outsourcing
  • Privacy and Data Protection
  • Regulatory Issues
  • Technology
  • Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT)

Awards

  • Member of MinterEllisonRuddWatts' internationally recognised Tier 1 TMT team, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific