James Donkin

Barrister sole

Email: james@quaychambers.co.nz
Phone: +64 9 374 1658 | +64 21 617 141

Practice areas

  • Civil and commercial litigation
  • Regulatory investigations and proceedings
  • White-collar offending


James commenced practise as a commercial litigator in 2005. He offers strategic, effective representation when conducting litigation in both the civil and criminal jurisdictions. James' expertise is in complex civil litigation, contentious regulatory matters and white-collar offending.

Civil and commercial litigation

James has conducted civil and commercial litigation on behalf of businesses (including insurers), individuals, government agencies, and local government. His focus is on resolving disputes efficiently, but, if that is not possible, he is a compelling advocate for his clients at trial. His recent experience includes:

  • Acting for a defendant in relation to a commercial development with significant geotechnical and structural issues
  • Acting for one of New Zealand's leading construction companies in adjudications under the Construction Contracts Act
  • Acting for a defendant to a claim alleging that its building product failed, causing extensive damage throughout a multi-unit townhouse development
  • Acting for a local government to defend allegations of misfeasance and negligence in relation to a subdivision development, including a third-party claim against an allegedly negligent professional advisor

Regulatory investigations and proceedings

James has acted for many different regulatory agencies. This includes advising on investigations, conducting prosecutions in the District Court, and bringing civil proceedings for pecuniary penalties in the High Court. James is an expert at understanding the strategic aspects of regulatory litigation and in engaging with regulators. His recent experience includes:

  • Acting for the Commerce Commission in High Court proceedings against members of price-fixing cartels
  • Acting for the Commerce Commission in numerous criminal prosecutions alleging breaches of the Fair Trading Act or Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act
  • Acting for a professional advisor in response to regulatory action taken by the Financial Markets Authority
  • Being appointed by the District Court to act as Standby Counsel for a company charged with regulatory offences
  • Advising local government on enforcement action under the Resource Management Act and Building Act

White-collar offending

For more than seven years, James prosecuted serious crime on behalf of the Crown. He has prosecuted jury trials for offending up to and including murder (as second counsel). James recently acted for a defendant to a Serious Fraud Office prosecution in relation to an alleged $42m fraud, including at an eight-week trial.

This experience, combined with his expertise in complex civil and regulatory litigation, means that James' skill set is particularly well suited to proceedings alleging white-collar offending.

Professional history

2018 –

Barrister, Quay Chambers

2016 – 2018

Senior Associate, Rice + Co

2015 – 2016

Associate, Meredith Connell

2012 – 2014

Regional Legal Counsel, ACE Asia Pacific Services

2007 – 2012

Associate/Solicitor, Meredith Connell

2005 – 2007

Solicitor, Russell McVeagh

Professional memberships

  • New Zealand Law Society
  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • Society of Construction Law (NZ)
  • New Zealand Insurance Law Association