Polly Pope




Polly is a leading commercial litigator and arbitrator. She has a broad range of experience in commercial disputes, with particular interests in construction, insolvency and regulatory disputes and investigations. 

Polly is at the top of her field, having been named as a ‘Best Lawyer – Litigation’ in 2018 - 2016. Her client list includes several of New Zealand’s largest listed companies, multinational corporations, major trading banks and financial institutions.


Polly has had a distinguished career in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, litigating complex and high stakes disputes. Her recent experience includes:

  • Acting for Heartland Bank in obtaining High Court approval under Part XV of the Companies Act 1993 for a corporate restructuring by scheme of arrangement.
  • Acting for voluntary administrators and receivers in a range of disputes.
  • Lead counsel for principals in a range of disputes under NZS3910 construction contracts.
  • Acting for financial institutions in respect of regulatory inquiries and investigations by the Financial Markets Authority, Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Commerce Commission.
  • Lead counsel for the owner in arbitration proceedings under the rules of the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand including a successful contested application to register the award as a judgment.
  • Defending and negotiating the settlement of a multi-million dollar (and multi-party) claim relating to earthquake damage to a commercial building.
  • Acting for the Australian liquidator of illegal investment schemes to successfully recover investor funds through High Court proceedings in New Zealand.
  • Defending and negotiating the settlement of a representative action relating to the construction of a large residential development.
  • Acting for a retail bank in High Court proceedings involving complex fraud by an employee of one of its banking customers and associated breach of mandate claims.


LLB (Hons First Class), University of Otago
MIR (Distinction), Victoria University of Wellington
Member, Society for Construction Law
Member, Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand


Polly was awarded Fellowship of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand in 2018. She was also awarded the Sir Ronald Davison Prize for excellence in arbitral award writing. Polly serves as a member of AMINZ's appointments panel, and sits as an adjudicator under the Construction Contracts Act, as a member of the panel of the Building Disputes Tribunal. 

She is an experienced advocate, and a member of the faculty of the New Zealand Law Society's Litigation Skills Course.

Polly is listed as a leading litigation lawyer for New Zealand by Best Lawyers® 2020 guide, and for Construction, Projects & Infrastructure by Doyles Guide 2018 and 2019.

Polly is author of the Consumer Credit title of Laws of New Zealand; as well as the International Corporate Rescue article How Far Can Litigation Funders Go? The New Zealand Case of PwC v Walker; and edits the arbitration chapters of Sim's Court Practice.

She has also shared her insights in the only textbook in existence on the nuts and bolts of running a major cross-border investigation: The Practitioner's Guide to Global Investigations 2018 – for which she authored the New Zealand chapter with partners Kylie Dunn and Emmeline Rushbrook.

In 2015, she co-founded Women in Restructuring and Insolvency, a professional network for women working across those sectors. 

Polly was admitted to practise in New Zealand in 1999 and in England and Wales in 2003. Polly gained international experience in the international arbitration and litigation teams of the leading global firms Debevoise & Plimpton and Clifford Chance.

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