Liam is an Associate (barrister & solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand) at Cooke, Young & Keidan. He specialises in complex commercial and corporate dispute resolution (including both litigation and arbitration), and acts for and advises a wide range of domestic and international clients on high value contentious matters. Before joining Cooke, Young & Keidan in November 2015, Liam was a Barrister & Solicitor at Bell Gully in New Zealand.
Liam has particular expertise in shareholders’ disputes, claims for and against company directors and also insolvency and insurance matters. He also acts and advises on fraud claims, contractual disputes, enforcement proceedings, cross-border insolvency matters, debt recovery actions, joint venture disputes, issues in relation to secured property and creditors’ rights, and issues arising out of the sale and purchase of a business. In New Zealand, he regularly appeared as counsel in the District Court and High Court on summary judgment, bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings. He also appeared as junior Counsel, including before the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
Liam studied a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Otago. He was awarded First Class Honours in Law and majored in Philosophy, Politics and Economic in his Arts degree. During his time at the University of Otago, he was the Head First-Year Law Tutor, awarded the Thomson Brookers Ltd Prize in Legal Systems (1st in First-Year Law), awarded a University of Otago Scholarship in Law and in Arts, and awarded the MacGregor Prize for Mental and Moral Philosophy. Liam was admitted as a Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in October 2012, and placed 1st overall in New Zealand at the 2012 College of Law Awards.
Liam has experience acting for and advising:
• an overseas company which owns the majority shareholding of an English PLC in successfully defeating a minority shareholders’ claim for the majority shareholder’s shares to be deleted from the Share Register. The decision from the Chancery Court trial of these proceedings is reported in the Business Law Reports. Related litigation is ongoing and involves complex multi-party actions and parallel proceedings in a foreign jurisdiction.
• two former directors of an insolvent English company that was part of a worldwide corporate group which manufactured and sold products sporting a globally recognised brand and household name. The company’s liquidators issued misfeasance proceedings seeking in excess of USD$240m from CYK’s clients and one other former director (who was separately represented). The case settled on confidential terms.
• an overseas company in relation to a high value international shareholders’ dispute, derivative action and fraud claim brought under the UNCITRAL arbitration rules.
• a former director of an insolvent English company in relation to various potential claims and the Liquidators’ conduct of the liquidation.
• the UK-arm of a global business in relation to a significant dispute over the interpretation and application of a complex and ongoing supply agreement.
• on a dispute in relation to an alleged breach of a share buy-back option.
New Zealand experience
While practising in New Zealand, Liam acted and advised on a number of high profile and complex corporate and commercial disputes, with a particular emphasis on insolvency and insurance law. In particular, Liam:
•acted on certain Court of Appeal and Supreme Court appeals which had such a significant effect on the insurance industry in both New Zealand and Australia that one commentator described the litigation as “potentially the most important case affecting Australian liability insurance ever”
•advised the receivers of a number of high profile failed New Zealand finance companies in relation to claims brought by the receivers against the directors, the directors’ D&O insurers, and the companies’ LMI insurers.
•acted for a UK Insolvency Trustee on an application to enforce a UK Court order in New Zealand under the Cross-Border Insolvency Act. Liam successfully appeared before the High Court as sole Counsel and the decision is reported in the British Company Law Cases.
•advised the receivers in a Court of Appeal case in relation to the interpretation of the preferential creditors regime in the Companies Act. The decision is the leading case on the meaning of “accounts receivable” in New Zealand insolvency and secured property law.
• 2017 L McNeely “Does a knave escape liability because he deals with a fool?” CLAN April 2017 Newsletter.
• 2012 T Fitzgerald & L McNeely “Bell Group Appeal: issues for directors and creditors” NZLawyer (2012) 196.
• 2011 L McNeely “The ‘Irreducible Core’ of Trusts in New Zealand”  OYLR.