Michael Cavanaugh

Senior Associate | BSc, LLB

Michael is an experienced advocate who thrives on understanding complicated problems and expressing their solutions simply and concisely.  He has advised and represented clients up to the Supreme Court in New Zealand, as well as in the Australian Federal Court and the Supreme Courts of New South Wales, Canberra and Victoria.

Principal areas of practice:

  • Professional Indemnity – engineers, architects, real estate agents, accountants, and lawyers.
  • Directors and Officers Liability.
  • General Liability – construction, product liability, negligence, intellectual property, and judicial review.
  • Statutory Liability – Commerce Commission and FMA investigations and prosecutions.
  • IT & Cyber Liability – intellectual property, breaches of confidence, negligence, and defamation.


  • Technical and concise analysis, with considered strategy.
  • Pragmatic and principled solutions.
  • Advocacy, including extensive mediation and courtroom experience.

Recent trial involvement/outcomes:

  • Marlborough District Council v Altimarloch Joint Ventures Ltd [2012] 2 NZLR 726 – Supreme Court authority on duties of care arising out of statutory powers, measure of loss and damage, and contribution between parties.
  • Auckland City Council v McNamara [2012] 3 NZLR 701 – Supreme Court decision on duties of care arising out of statutory powers.
  • Nathans Finance NZ Ltd (in rec) v AIG Insurance New Zealand Ltd [2014] NZHC 2997 – High Court decision on admissibility of expert evidence on the issue of director dishonesty.
  • McAlister v Lai [2017] NZHC 791 – High Court decision on solicitor’s liability to persons other than their clients
  • Linguis International Institute of Language and Culture Ltd v NZQA [2016] NZAR 730 – Judicial Review of NZQA report on private training establishment’s educational performance and capability.
  • International Academy of New Zealand v NZQA [2016] 640 – Judicial Review of NZQA report on private training establishment’s educational performance and capability.
  • Jardboranir HF t/a Iceland Drilling v Summit Hydraulic Solutions Ltd [2016] NZHC 490 – High Court decision on contractual limitation and exclusion clauses
  • Successful defence of major New Zealand insurer from claims by company directors in relation to excluded cover.
  • Advising a major New Zealand insurer on Trans-Tasman claims and proceedings against directors and officers arising out that company’s collapse.
  • Successful defence of lawyers and real estate agents against claims and disciplinary complaints.
  • Acting for clients in Commerce Commission investigations and proceedings.
  • Acting for fuel suppliers in product liability, material damage and business interruption proceedings.
  • Acting for governmental agencies in judicial review proceedings.