Jessie Lapthorne


I am a partner in Duncan Cotterill’s Auckland employment and health and safety team. I have almost 20 years’ experience as an employment law specialist, in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom. I am an experienced litigator, regularly appearing as an advocate in employment related litigation. 

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

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. 
•    Successfully defended an application for judicial review in the Employment Court.
•    Successfully defended a claim for unjustified dismissal brought by an employee of a charitable trust in
     the Employment Relations Authority. The decision from her subsequent challenge in the Employment
     Court is pending.
•    Successfully defended two individuals who were being sued by a former employer for breaches of
     restraints of trade, which were held to be unenforceable by the Employment Relations Authority. 
•    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.
•    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 2023 legal directory and as a leading employment lawyer by the Doyles Workplace Health & Safety Law Rankings 2023. I 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. I am admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.