Felix Geiringer

- Barrister -

Felix is an experienced barrister practising in a broad range of legal fields. He is used to dealing with difficult and novel matters.

Felix Geiringer is an experienced barrister practising in a broad range of legal fields.  He has acted in a number of recent high-profile matters including representing Sir Tim Shadbolt in a successful defence of a defamation claim, representing Toni Waho in his successful trust law claim against Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, and representing Nicky Hager in his judicial review and public law damages claims against the New Zealand Police.  

His work ranges from the protection of human rights to complex commercial disputes.  Felix’s recent cases also include matters involving company law, arbitration, administrative law, land law, professional discipline, inquiries, tort law, te Tiriti o Waitangi, sports law, and criminal appeals.  He frequently appears in the appellate courts including multiple appearances in the New Zealand Supreme Court and the Privy Council.

Felix has undertaken a great deal of public interest litigation and pro bono work.  He has acted for community organisations before the High Court and in the Supreme Court.  He has many years of experience offering free legal advice through the Wellington Community Law Centre, Freelaw and Community Links in London, and with the UK’s National Council for Civil Liberties. 

Felix previously worked as a solicitor in the litigation team at Chapman Tripp, Wellington, and as an associate in the financial regulation team at Clifford Chance in London.  In the latter role, Felix advised some of the world’s largest financial institutions, including having a senior role in facilitating Mitsubishi UFJ’s 9 billion USD investment in Morgan Stanley.  He was also called as a barrister by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and worked in that role from 1 Gray’s Inn Square and Doughty Street Chambers in London. 

He deals with difficult and novel matters of law and has had numerous of his decisions reported including 15 cases in the New Zealand Law Reports.  Felix is also experienced in all forms of ADR and has resolved many disputes through mediation and negotiated settlement.

Before coming to the law, Felix had a career as a mathematician.  He was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. He conducted research in the field of analytic number theory.  For four years, Felix worked in IT working mostly in cryptology, but also as a developer on a variety of other coding and code validation projects.  Felix was credited as inventor on six patents registered for his work.

 

Practice Areas

Trusts & equity

Commercial & company law

Land law

Tort law

Media law

Arbitration & mediation

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Professional discipline

Public & administrative law

Inquiries

Sports law

Criminal appeals

  

Notable Cases

<i>Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust (costs)</i> [2018] NZHC 3388; [2019] NZHC 1440

These are the costs decisions for the case decided in Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust [2018] NZHC 1935. Mr Waho was a trustee of the defendant found to have been wrongfully removed from that position. The Court had found that he acted “with a sense of personal integrity” and “in conformity with the contractual and fiduciary obligation on each member of the Board”.

Felix and James Mahuta-Coyle argued that Mr Waho was entitled to full indemnity costs from the defendant based on his position as a trustee and a right for indemnity under the Trust Deed. The defendant disputed Mr Waho’s right to indemnity and disputed the quantum as unreasonable, although it initially failed to detail the complaint of unreasonableness.

In its first costs judgment (Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust (costs) [2018 NZHC 3388), the Court upheld Mr Waho’s right to indemnification of legal costs from the Trust. The Court gave the defendant a further chance to detail its claim that the quantum sought was not reasonable. In its second judgement (Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust (costs 2) [2019] NZHC 1440), the Court held that the full amount sought by Mr Waho was reasonable.

Read the full case file here: Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust (costs) [2018] NZHC 3388; [2019] NZHC 1440

<i>Durie v Gardiner</i> [2018] 3 NZLS 131; [2018] NZCA 278

This defamation case marks a substantial development of defamation law in New Zealand. Felix acted for Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie and Donna Hall in relation to a publication by the Māori Television Service. Felix was initially led in the High Court by Richard Fowler QC. There, the MTS persuaded the Court to dismiss a strike-out brought against a novel public interest defence including a defence of neutral reportage previously rejected by the New Zealand courts (Durie v Gardiner [2017] 3 NZLR 72; [2017] NZHC 377, Mallon J).

That decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal and Felix acted as lead counsel, leading barrister Steven Price. They argued that while recognition of a new public interest defence is appropriate, the High Court erred in the scope and elements of that defence. The Court of Appeal reformulated the defences (Durie v Gardiner [2018] 3 NZLR 131; [2018] NZCA 278, French, Winkelmann, and Brown JJ). Based on the details of the newly recognised defences, the Court of Appeal struck out MTS’s defence of neutral reportage for all publications, struck out all of the public interest defence for one publication, and commented that MTS faced difficulties with this defence in relation to all of its publications.

The case returned to the High Court for further interlocutory argument. In July 2019, the case was settled. The details of the settlement are confidential, but MTS broadcasted a comprehensive retraction and apology three times on its primetime news programme and posted that statement as a lead story on its news site for approximately three weeks.

Read the full case file here: Durie v Gardiner [2018] 3 NZLS 131; [2018] NZCA 278

<i>Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust </i>[2018] NZHC 1935

This was a high-profile case involving a significant New Zealand institution, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. Felix acted as lead counsel representing former trustee, Toni Waho. Mr Waho was removed as trustee after informing Ministers of the Crown responsible for the Trust’s funding that the Trust had received complaints of financial impropriety against its trustees, its staff, and staff of its wholly owned company.

Felix was able to overcome an initial ruling from MacKenzie J rejecting an injunction and holding that Mr Waho’s case was unarguable (Waho v Olsen-Rātana [2014] NZHC 2729, MacKenzie J). The appeal of that decision to the Court of Appeal did not result in an injunction, but the majority ruled that the case was arguable (Waho v Olsen-Rātana [2014] NZCA 612, France P, Harrison and French JJ).

Felix was joined by Mr Mahuta-Coyle and the case was heard at a 13-day hearing in 2017 before Clark J. Her Honour’s decision of 31 July 2018 (Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust [2018] NZHC 1935, Clark J) upheld the claim. Mr Waho’s removal was declared unlawful. The High Court found that Mr Waho acted “with a sense of personal integrity” and “in conformity with the contractual and fiduciary obligation on each member of the Board”. He was awarded unpaid honorarium and costs.

Read the full case file here: Waho v Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust [2018] NZHC 1935

<i>Arnold v Stuff Ltd</i> [2018] NZHC 1641
<i>R v Alsford</i> [2017] 1 NZLR 710; (2017) 11 HRNZ 272; [2017] NZSC 42
<i>Cookson-Ua v Morehu</i> [2017] NZHC 1960
<i>Arnold v Fairfax New Zealand Ltd</i> [2016] NZHC 207
<i>Hager v Attorney-General</i> [2016] 2 NZLR 523; (2015) 10 HRNZ 587; [2015] NZHC 3268
<i>Fenwick v Naera</i> [2016] 1 NZLR 354; [2015] NZSC 68
<i>Attorney-General v Van Essen</i> (2015) 10 HRNZ 155; [2015] NZCA 22
<i>Sustainability Council of New Zealand Trust v the Environmental Protections Authority</i> (2014) 18 ELRNZ 331; [2014] NZHC 1067
<i>Sturgess v Dunphy</i> [2014] NZCA 266
<i>New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General (Water)</i> [2013] 3 NZLR 31; [2013] NZSC 6
<i>New Zealand Law Society v B</i> [2013] NZAR 970; [2013] NZCA 156
<i>Allenby v H</i> [2012] 3 NZLR 425; [2013] NZSCR 843; [2012] NZSC 33
<i>Morse v Police</i> [2012] 2 NZLR 1; (2011) 25 CRNZ 174; [2011] NZSC 45
<i>Barlow v R</i> [2009] UKPC 30; [2010] 1 LRC 272; [2009] All ER (D) 210 (Nov)

Qualifications

BA (Hons) Otago

LLB (Hons) VUW

Degree of Barrister-at-Law Lincoln’s Inn

 

Barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand

 

Not currently practising:

Barrister of England and Wales

Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales

Higher Courts Advocate (Civil) of England and Wales

Higher Courts Advocate (Criminal) of England and Wales

Memberships

News & Media

The SIS unlawfully targeted Nicky Hager on behalf of the NZDF

The Acting Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has upheld a complaint by investigative journalist Nicky Hager against the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service for unlawfully attempting to uncover his journalistic sources.The complaint related to events...

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