Peter Woods


+64 3 364 3816

+64 21 352 456


Peter is recognised internationally as one of New Zealand’s leading insurance lawyers. Over the last 10 years he has focused on property claims for earthquake damage in Canterbury and Marlborough. In 2022, Peter was appointed as the Independent Specialist Adviser to the Government’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee in respect of the Natural Hazards Insurance Bill (which is to replace the Earthquake Commission Act 1993), a testament to his expertise.

In addition, Peter advises clients on a wide range of commercial disputes, including commercial property, company law, contract interpretation, construction (including leaky homes), defamation, franchise, insurance and intellectual property.

Peter’s insurance work includes leading cases for property damage and broader issues of insurers’ misconduct. He led the claim by Mr and Mrs Dodds against Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited, where the Court determined that Southern Response had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and it had misrepresented the amount that the Dodds were entitled under their Policy. That judgment applies to approximately 3000 claims and will mean approximately $400m is going to be paid to homeowners in Christchurch. Peter also led a successful class action against the Earthquake Commission, which led to the Commission accepting that it had not used the correct standard of repair.

Peter and his team have represented hundreds of residential and commercial property owners, including the leading reported cases for TJK (NZ) Ltd and for Emmons Developments NZ Ltd (where the total sum insured is approximately $190m).

In addition to insurance litigation, Peter has a broad international commercial litigation practice, regularly appearing in the High Court and the Court of Appeal and at arbitrations. He has also appeared before the Royal Commission into the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy and the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission.

Peter co-presented the NZ Law Society Seminar on “Insurance – New Challenges” and co-hosted numerous free public meetings on earthquake damage issues. He is a qualified mediator and the Chairman of The Te Kura Trust Foundation and a Trustee of The Lighthouse Vision Trust.

Key Transactions


  • The Government's Finance and Expenditure Select Committee in respect to the Natural Hazards Insurance Bill (which is to replace the Earthquake Commission Act 1993) - in the an Independent Specialist Adviser.
  • Numerous commercial property owners on insurance issues arising from the Canterbury earthquakes, including in respect of BI claims, access issues, demolition requirements and insurance entitlements.
  • The successful plaintiff in the leading authority TJK (NZ) Ltd v Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. Ltd, winning a multi-million dollar payment.
  • An international software development company in a claim for damages in excess of $US5 million.
  • The New Zealand subsidiary of a United States listed company at the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy.
  • Numerous home owners in Court and the WHT for claims for leaky homes defending builders and other trades in weather-tightness claims in the WHT, District Court and High Court.
  • As New Zealand Counsel in international litigation arising from alleged breaches of a supply contract where $10 million damages were claimed.
  • The New Zealand subsidiaries of an Australian based multinational in an High Court proceeding where conspiracy and unjust enrichment were alleged and damages in excess of $4 million were sought.


  • Asia Pacific Legal 500, Recommended Lawyer, 2017-2023
  • Chambers and Partners, Ranked, 2017-2023


Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Bachelor of Science (BSc), University of Canterbury

Master of Laws (LLM) Advanced Litigation, University of Nottingham

Accredited Mediator, Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, UK

Admission to the Bar

New Zealand, 1985

England and Wales, 1992

Professional Memberships

New Zealand Insurance Law Association, Member

Society for Construction Law, Member

Franchise Association of New Zealand, Member, Mediation Panel

Peter has presented at the ALFA International Client Seminar, New Zealand Law Society and is a trustee of the Lighthouse Vision Trust. He is the co-author of the New Zealand Chapter in ‘International Guide to Money Laundering Law and Practice’ (Third and Fourth Editions)

Contributed Articles

  • Kaikōura Earthquake insurance claim deadline looms

    On 14 November 2016 at two minutes past midnight, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the Kaikoura region (Kaikōura EQ).  It caused extensive damage in the North Canterbury, Marlborough and Wellington Regions. Conservative estimates suggest that the cost to repair the damage caused by the Kaikōura EQ likely exceeds $1.5B, which is roughly 0.5% of New […]

  • Court ends Ross Class Action against Southern Response

    A High Court Judgment delivered by the Hon Justice Osborne last week (16 December) terminates the Ross Class Action (“RCA”) against Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited.  This removes the last hurdle for homeowners to recover their compensation from Southern Response, and means the Ross Class Action (RCA) has ended. The Ross Class Action lawyers’ and […]

  • Southern Response decision unlocks $300m more

    Southern Response’s decision to accept the Court of Appeal’s findings in the Dodds’ case allows at least 3,000 Christchurch policyholders who settled their claims before 1 October 2014 to receive compensation of $100,000 each, on average, amounting to over $300 million. The Dodds’ lawyer, Anthony Harper partner Peter Woods established in the High Court that […]

  • Judgment day

    Judgments allow Southern Response to pay $300m compensation directly to Canterbury homeowners.  At Anthony Harper, we support a wide range of businesses, organisations and individuals every day to help them further their goals or solve the inevitable issues that arise in life and at work. There are some cases we get involved in that are […]

  • Earthquake-hit ex-Rydges hotel building clears Supreme Court insurance battle

    After legal debates over fractions of a millimetre, a final court decision has at last cleared the way for a $190 million repair and rebuild project in central Christchurch. Partner, Peter Woods, discusses what is next for this landmark building. Read the full article here. This article originally appeared in STUFF