Jessie Lapthorne


I am a partner in Duncan Cotterill’s growing Auckland employment and health and safety team. I have extensive experience as an employment law specialist, in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

I work closely with my clients to guide them through difficult people related problems and help them achieve their commercial objectives in the most effective way. I am focused on providing advice that is pragmatic, commercially driven and relevant. Clients have described me as "fantastic to deal with. She is very approachable, pragmatic, and incredibly knowledgeable." (Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2021)

I have a diverse client base which cuts across a variety of sectors. I act for some of New Zealand’s most recognised home-grown companies as well as a number of international brands. I take the time to understand my clients’ businesses, so that my advice is targeted and well suited to meeting their needs.

My expertise spans the full spectrum of workplace law, including disciplinary and performance matters; restructuring and redundancy procedures; personal grievances; restraint of trade disputes; protection of confidential information; health and safety; and human rights issues; where my input ranges from front-end guidance, to dispute resolution and advocacy.

I am an experienced litigator, regularly appearing as an advocate in employment related litigation. Recent employment work includes:

  • Successfully represented Corelogic New Zealand Limited in relation to an unjustified dismissal claim in the Employment Relations Authority, Employment Court and Court of Appeal
  • Defended Virgin Australia New Zealand Employment and Crewing in relation to a claim in the Employment Relations Authority brought by an employee dismissed for committing a sexual act with a passenger;
  • Defended an aged care provider in relation to a claim brought under the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017;
  • Represented a manufacturer in relation to a WorkSafe investigation and prosecution following a fatality at its workshop;
  • Brought a successful jurisdiction based challenge in the Employment Court against a penalty award issued by the Employment Relations Authority;
  • Defended a global company in the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court in a 90-day trial period dismissal case; and
  • Acting for a manufacturer in relation to a WorkSafe prosecution following a fatality at its workshop.

I am recognised as a recommended lawyer by the Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 legal directory and regularly speak at conferences, present seminars and workshops, write articles and provide media commentary. 

I am a member of Duncan Cotterill's board, the New Zealand Law Society, Auckland District Law Society, Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association, Human Resources Institute of New Zealand and an Associate Member of the Employment Lawyers Association in the UK.