Nicola Swan Nicola Swan

Nicola Swan

Litigation & dispute resolution
Climate change

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, New Zealand commercial dispute resolution, public international law, public law, human rights and climate risk.

Recognised for her 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 has an active civil litigation practice, advising clients on disputes matters across a range of industries including in the energy, utilities, extractive, telecommunications, banking, and financial services sectors.  

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 two major legal opinions for the Aotearoa Circle on director, fund manager, and trustee responsibility to manage climate risk, as well as our 2020 Directors' Tool Kit on climate risk management.

She is recognised as a rising star by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2021 and as a Future Leader by Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2022. In 2021, she was also named as a Young Influencer on the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers list.

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).

Welcoming Nicola to the partnership

  • 1080
  • 720
  • 540
  • 360
  • 240

Nicola's insights

See all insights

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’.

Read more

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.

Read more

storm cloud

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

green shoots in soil

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Others in the team

See all people