Nicola Swan Nicola Swan

Nicola Swan


Litigation & dispute resolution

Nicola is a partner in our Litigation & Dispute Resolution team and leads the firm's international law practice. She has particular expertise in international arbitration, commercial dispute resolution, public international law, public law and judicial review, business and human rights and climate risk.

Recognised for building excellent rapport with clients, and for developing effective case and advocacy strategy, Nicola has broad experience before international arbitral tribunals and in domestic courts. Nicola regularly advises on disputes with an international element and those which incorporate both public and commercial law. Nicola is an arbitration specialist, with an active civil litigation practice, advising clients on corporate and commercial disputes including in the energy and financial services sectors. Nicola also leads Chapman Tripp’s sanctions and international trade practices. 

Nicola is a member of our Consulting advisory team and is recognised for her expertise in climate change risk management and disclosure. Partnering with boards, CEOs and executive teams, she helps manage non-financial risks − particularly ESG and climate risks.

Nicola regularly speaks on climate risk management and disclosure, and ESG management in business. She has co-authored three major legal opinions for the Aotearoa Circle on director, fund manager, and trustee responsibility to manage climate and nature related risk, as well as our Directors' Tool Kit on climate risk management.

Nicola was recognised as a Next Generation Lawyer by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2024, an Up And Coming Lawyer by Chambers Asia Pacific 2024, and was recognised for her expertise in arbitration and commercial litigation by Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2024. 

Recent highlights

  • Acting for Fonterra and Z Energy on climate change related tort claims filed against multiple New Zealand defendants.
  • Acting for L&M Coal Holdings Limited in one of the most significant recent contractual disputes before the New Zealand Supreme Court.
  • Acting on the first recognition proceedings of an international investment (ICSID) award before the New Zealand courts.
  • Acting on a major international arbitration for an Asia-based entity involving satellite litigation in Singapore and Australia.
  • Advising New Zealand banks, fund managers, listed entities and government entities on climate change financial risk and disclosure.
  • Acting for multiple clients on modern slavery and broader ESG and human rights risk and reporting.
  • Acted for a publicly-listed mining company and its subsidiaries in a multi-billion dollar arbitration against an African government seated in London under the UNCITRAL Rules (UK).
  • Acted for British Caribbean Bank in successfully defending anti-arbitration injunction proceedings brought by the Government of Belize to avoid arbitration under a bilateral investment treaty in the courts of Belize and the Caribbean Court of Justice (UK).
  • Acted for various international clients on foreign-seated commercial arbitrations in M&A under the ICC, LCIA and UNCITRAL rules of arbitration.
  • Advised an international NGO on a global litigation strategy regarding claims before UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies across multiple Latin American states.


  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIARB).
  • Fellow of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (FAMINZ).
  • Member of the International Bar Associations Arbitration Committee on Environmental, Social and Governance Issues.
  • Member of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
  • Active contributor to the Aotearoa Circle’s workstream on development of fiduciary duty and ESG.
  • Advisor to Legal Response International (providing pro bono support to developing country state parties to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement).
  • (Immediate past) Member of the International Chamber of Commerce Commission on Arbitration Task Force on Climate Change Related Disputes.
  • Founding board member of the Young Public International Law Group (London).

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Nicola's insights

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Chapman Tripp only New Zealand Law Firm ranked in Global Arbitration Review’s GAR 100

Chapman Tripp is the only New Zealand Law Firm to be ranked in the guide, recognising the firm’s dedicated international arbitration practice, led by partner Nicola Swan. The firm has long been acknowledged internationally as having one of New Zealand’s most distinguished litigation and dispute resolution practices.

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Protecting New Zealand’s competitive advantage: new report reveals scale and pace of changes facing our exporters in global ESG reporting and sustainability trade measures

A new report has revealed the pressure on New Zealand exporters to keep up with international expectations on sustainability, with more than 80% of New Zealand’s exports by value now going to countries with mandatory climate-related disclosures either in force or proposed.

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Two Chapman Tripp Partners on NZ Lawyer’s 2023 Elite Women List

We are delighted that Chapman Tripp Partners Rachel Dunne and Nicola Swan have been included on NZ Lawyer’s 2023 Elite Women List. The list includes 50 exceptional female leaders that have influenced the New Zealand legal profession in a way that demonstrates a passion for the law.

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The business of nature: new legal opinion outlines emerging expectations on directors to manage nature-related risk

A new legal opinion by Chapman Tripp for The Aotearoa Circle advises that prudent directors and businesses should be starting on the path to identify, assess and manage nature-related risks, particularly if they depend on the environment for their business model.

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Chapman Tripp creates Director role to support growing Climate, Sustainability and ESG practice

Chapman Tripp is delighted to announce that Kate Wilson Butler has been appointed as Director of our Climate, Sustainability and ESG practice.

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NZ$3 billion sovereign green bond issuance set to stimulate sustainable finance market

Chapman Tripp is pleased to have advised Te Tai Ōhanga – The Treasury on New Zealand’s first sovereign green bonds and development of the New Zealand Sovereign Green Bond Framework.

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Chapman Tripp proud to contribute to New Zealand’s first Stewardship Code

The 2022 Responsible Investment Aotearoa NZ Conference has seen the launch of New Zealand’s first Stewardship Code, which provides guiding principles for stewardship for responsible investors in New Zealand.

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New Zealand Mountains

First New Zealand law firm to join Net Zero Lawyers Alliance

We are the first New Zealand law firm to sign up to the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance – a collaboration of top-tier law firms committed to accelerating the transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

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Chapman Tripp takes the lead with consulting service

Responding to growing demand for combined legal and advisory work, we are New Zealand’s first large law firm to offer a local team of consultants – competing head-to-head with the ‘Big Four’.

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Nicola Swan and Rachel Dunne

Two eminent leaders named Influential Lawyers for 2021

Rachel Dunne and Nicola Swan have been named Young Influencers on the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers 2021 list, highlighting their accomplishments and contributions to the legal profession. Dunne is also one of two exclusively recognised Lawyers for ‘Capital Markets: Equity in New Zealand’ in IFLR’s Asia Future Leaders 2021.

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Climate change no longer just an environmental concern

Our experts have stated that management of climate risk is not about compliance and understanding climate risk is key to mid-long term strategy and resilience.

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Te Aopare Dewes, Nicola Swan, and Luke Ford

Legal expert superstars promoted to partner

The partnership will be enhanced with the appointment of Nicola Swan, Luke Ford and Te Aopare Dewes to partner, effective 1 December 2020.

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Certified commitment to environmental sustainability

We meet the requirements of Toitū's carbonreduce® certification programme, having measured our GHG emissions. We are committed to managing and reducing our carbon footprint.

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covid 19

Recovering from COVID‑19: the critical legal pathways

We have published a visual diagram to illustrate the legal pathways required for businesses and economies to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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