Grant Nicholson


+64 9 356 2621

+64 21 378 524


Widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading health and safety lawyers, Grant Nicholson has extensive experience in all aspects of health and safety law. His style is warm and collaborative, and he enjoys getting out to see his clients “in the real world”.  Doyle’s Guide describes him as “pre-eminent” in health and safety and he is also ranked by Chambers & Partners, which notes his “strong reputation”. Legal 500 says Grant “is an authority on prosecutions”. 

Clients include construction and infrastructure companies, Crown entities, distributors, insurance companies, logistics providers, manufacturers, not-for-profits, ports, producers, retailers, territorial authorities, utilities companies, and others on their health and safety needs.

Grant’s work includes “front end” legal compliance, risk management, and leadership and culture development, and “back end” work on serious incident investigations, and representation during interactions with regulators, coroners, and the courts. He also has extensive experience in insurance and commercial litigation.

Relentlessly pragmatic and commercial in approach, he combines expert technical knowledge with the practical insight gained from many years of experience.

Grant’s clients are the best judge of what he brings to every instruction:

“Working alongside Grant Nicholson reinforces why health and safety law is a specialty in its own right and not merely a branch of employment law. Grant brings a first rate mind, commercial acumen, strategic and tactical nous, but above all he gets the human piece. Responsive and efficient, I struggle to recall a lawyer who has been more client centred, in any area, and can’t think why you’d retain anyone else in this field” – Sandra Gilliam, HR Director, Allpress Coffee

“What sets these guys apart is that they are able talk to us in simple human terms about what we need to do. They are experts but connect with us on our level” – Todd McLeay, CEO, Smart Environmental

Key Transactions


  • White Island Tours Limited, an adventure tourism business that was hosting tourists on live volcano Whakaari/White Island when it erupted in December 2019. Twenty-two people died, making this New Zealand's worst workplace incident in a decade. Anthony Harper is advising White Island Tours in its defence of charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and in its dealings with the New Zealand Police and the Coroner. The outcomes of this case and investigations will impact the future regulation and management of adventure tourism operations in New Zealand.
  • Flick Anticimex, a multi-national fumigation business in an investigation and prosecution by WorkSafe New Zealand, after a worker was hospitalised with symptoms arising from exposure to methyl bromide – a controversial industrial fumigant which has been banned in a number of overseas jurisdictions. This matter was significant as one of the first few cases where WorkSafe prosecuted an employer as a result of health related concerns. The Court's decision and findings about the nature and extent of Flick's duties for worker health were important both for the fumigation industry, and for the wider New Zealand business community by providing guidance on expectations around health protection and monitoring.
  • A District Health Board (DHB) on the health and safety issues arising from completion of facilities management, special projects, and development work across the public health hospital and out-patient network. This included a review of the activity undertaken by the Facilities Management Division and advice to the the DHB on its legal responsibilities, good practice, and identified areas for improvement. The DHB was delighted with the outcome and used our report to improve its system, enhance consistency between different parts of its operation, and ensure ongoing compliance.
  • A listed international property syndicator and manager with a commercial portfolio across New Zealand on the health and safety duties, and essential responsibilities and liabilities of a new syndicated property joint venture. This project included the structure of the offering, including a range of incorporated vehicles and complex asset structures, and advice on critical risk elements and important governance and management considerations when managing a property portfolio.


  • Asia Pacific Legal 500, Labour and Employment, Recommended Lawyer, 2010-2024
  • Chambers and Partners, Employment, Ranked, 2010-2024
  • New Zealand Doyle's Guide, Health and Safety, Preeminent Lawyer, 2019-2023


  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB), (Hons), University of Auckland

Admission to the Bar

  • New Zealand, 1994
  • England and Wales, 2002

Professional Memberships

  • New Zealand Institute of Safety Management, Deputy Chair
  • Standards Committee for the New Zealand Law Society, Convener
  • New Zealand Safety Council, Member
  • Australian Institute of Health and Safety, Member
  • United Kingdom’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, Member

Contributed Articles

  • TECNZ Annual Conference 2022 – Key Takeaways

    Last month, Health and Safety Partner, Grant Nicholson and solicitor in the Employment Team, Lauren Dennehy, visited lovely Nelson to present seminars at the Annual Tourism Export Council New Zealand Conference. Grant discussed the current health and safety issues impacting the tourism sector, WorkSafe’s new future focus and investigation trends. Lauren covered emerging trends in […]

  • Are vaccine mandates under threat?

    As we head into the peak of Omicron, vaccine mandates remain highly contentious and the subject of prolonged protests around the country. Rather than joining the protest, three Police and Defence Force workers have convinced the High Court that the order requiring them to be vaccinated should be quashed. The order, which required Police and […]

  • Are you liable when workers don’t follow instructions?

    Despite the best efforts of systems and managers, sometimes workers don’t follow instructions or established procedures. When this leads to a health and safety incident in the workplace, it is common for organisations to point the finger at the worker involved as they try to escape liability. The recent Australian case of Landmark Roofing Pty […]

  • Your obligations when WorkSafe comes knocking

    A recent prosecution by WorkSafe provides a timely reminder that individuals and businesses have obligations to assist WorkSafe inspectors carrying out their roles. So, what is your duty and what steps do you need to take to avoid enforcement action? The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) places a positive obligation on any […]

  • New guidance on managing work site traffic

    Following consultation in 2020, WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe) has recently released new good practice guidelines for managing work site traffic (Guidelines). The Guidelines are intended to create a comprehensive reference point for businesses and workers with information about how to keep healthy and safe around vehicles and mobile plant. An ongoing challenge In the last […]