A tight team with big capability

Who we are

Ford Sumner’s focus on building strong relationships is what makes us special. Our clients trust us to get it right; because we do, many of them have worked with us since we began.

Our team collaborates to provide expert, personal and individualised service. We’re responsive, with a can-do attitude, and we always bring our ‘A’ game.

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Expertise

How can we help you?

OUR PEOPLE

Meet our team

Our team’s big enough to be experts across many fields, and small enough to know and care about each other, and our clients.

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Automated Documents

What does our legal document suite and automation software mean for our clients? Agreements to You is able to produce high-quality legal documentation in a shorter time – and with greater accuracy and less cost.  

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Latest legal news

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Dismissal for failing to vaccinate against Covid-19 - Employment Relations Authority has first word On 1 September 2021 the Employment Relations Authority (“Authority”) issued a decision in GF v New Zealand Customs Service [2021] NZERA 382 where it grappled with the vexed issue of an employee (“GF”) being dismissed from their employment for failing to vaccinate against Covid-19. Link
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Commercial leases and rent relief during the COVID-19 pandemic The effect of COVID-19 on New Zealand businesses has been profound. In the wake of the initial Alert Level 4 lockdown in March 2020, followed by several periods of Alert Level changes since then, commercial landlords and tenants were left out of pocket, scrambling to negotiate to reduce or defer rent and outgoings and in some cases, resorting to cancellation. Link
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COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace: Obligations for Employers (Part 2) Following on from our last article, in this article we are covering off more questions regarding the debate around COVID-19 vaccinations in the employment context, and what employers should be vigilant of. Link
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COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace: Obligations for Employers (Part 1)

New Zealand’s vaccination rollout has gathered pace with approximately 782,000 Kiwi’s now fully vaccinated.  As vaccination rates increase with the availability of the Pfizer vaccine (Vaccine) and the anticipated easing of some border restrictions, a number of questions from employers and employees will arise about their obligations and rights when it comes to workplace vaccination requirements.  

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Property purchasers beware! Rights of way: How to prevent neighbour warfare

A recent case has highlighted the importance of proper due diligence by purchasers in assessing legal title to a property and, more particularly, the effect of any right of way easement affecting the title.

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BEWARE LENDERS: New due diligence duty & fit and proper person certification for directors and senior managers

From 1 October 2021, directors and senior managers of lenders (i.e. a person or business providing credit under a consumer credit contract, including some mobile traders), must comply with new due diligence duties and obligations under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (the “CCCF Act”).

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Mainzeal: Round 2 of 3 The Court of Appeal’s recent judgment in Yan v Mainzeal Property & Construction Limited (in Liquidation) [2021] NZCA 99provides further guidance about the circumstances in which directors in office during a period of balance sheet insolvency will be held liable for breach of directors’ duties under the Companies Act 1993. Link
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Buyers and sellers beware! New Tax Rules 2021: What you need to consider when buying or selling a business If you are buying or selling a business this year, think carefully about how the purchase price should be allocated to the assets being sold/purchased.  Link
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Further COVID-19 relief available for SMEs Relief is now available for small and medium sized enterprises (“SMEs”) whose revenue has been affected by the recent COVID-19 Alert Level hikes (from Alert Level 1 to Level 2 for most of the country) during February 2021, with applications for grants and subsidies having recently opened on the Inland Revenue and Work and Income websites. Link
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Residential Tenancy changes – A new landscape for Landlords and Tenants The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 came into force on 12 August 2020.  It changed the landscape for Landlords and Tenants in New Zealand by amending the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (“the Act”).  Whether you’re a Landlord or Tenant, here’s how the changes affect you. Link
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Employment Court Clarifies Criteria for Fixed Term Employment Agreements

A sincere belief that the circumstances warrant a fixed term agreement will not meet the criteria set by the Employment Relations Act

Fixed term employment agreements are strictly regulated by section 66 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 ("the Act"). If the criteria set by section 66 are not met, a fixed term agreement may be held to be invalid, resulting in the employee being a permanent employee instead.

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Employment Law and the 2020 Election - What's on offer?

New Zealand's General Election is being held on 17 October 2020. This article provides a snapshot of some of the parties’ proposed policies on wages and working conditions. 

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Supreme Court decision heightens risk of personal liability for directors

After a long gestation period, the Supreme Court has released its judgment in Debut Homes v Cooper [2020] NZSC 100 which clarifies the circumstances in which a director of a closely-held company will be personally liable for debts incurred by a company following a decision to continue trading when the company is in financial difficulty.

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Workplace Employment Investigators Require a Licence or Practicing Certificate There has been a recent, and significant, clarification of the licensing requirements for employment investigators. Link
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Supreme Court confirms mining legislation no longer gets the “special treatment”

The recent Supreme Court case of Rangitira Developments Limited v Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated [2020] NZSC 66 has clarified the legal position regarding the relationship between the Reserves Act and other relevant legislation.

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Protecting your Personal Information in the Digital Age

From 1 December 2020, the Privacy Act 2020 (“the Act”) will replace the Privacy Act 1993 (“the 1993 Act”). The Act introduces sweeping reform to promote New Zealander’s confidence that their personal information is secure and treated properly by public and private sector agencies.

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Employment Court widens the definition of gross earnings - Employers beware
Gross earnings provide the basis on which an employer calculates an employee’s annual holiday pay.
If an employer does not get this calculation right based on a misunderstanding of what constitutes ‘gross earnings’, they may find themselves in a situation where an employee’s holiday pay entitlements have been underpaid, resulting in an unexpected liability under the Holidays Act 2003 (“the Act”).
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First Employment Relations Authority Determination on Government Wage Subsidy Pay Reductions and Dismissals With the Government Wage Subsidy Extension continuing to be available until 20 October 2020, the Employment Relations Authority (“ERA”) on 30 June 2020 issued a timely determination on whether or not an employer is released from the obligation to pay wages or salary under an employee’s employment agreement and/or the Wages Protection Act 1983 by accepting the Government Wage Subsidy (“GWS”). Link
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Small Businesses and Rent Disputes Small businesses paying full rent on commercial leases when Covid-19 measures prevented them fully occupying their premises have today been given a pathway to rent reductions in a long-awaited government package released today. Link
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Planning redundancies once your employees’ wage subsidy runs out? Not so fast!

Planning redundancies once your employees’ wage subsidy runs out? Not so fast!

Times are tough for many New Zealand businesses right now. As a result of Covid-19 and its implications, many businesses have had to lay off staff or temporarily or permanently close due to significant decreases in revenue.

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