Tom Cleary

Tom Cleary

Senior Solicitor, Auckland

Litigation & dispute resolution

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T:+64 9 357 9889

M:+64 27 722 9430


MBHL (Dist), LLB (Hons), BSc (Biochemistry), University of Otago


2014, New Zealand

Tom specialises in commercial litigation, intellectual property and media law.

He is a commercial litigator experienced in advising and representing clients in complex disputes. Tom has appeared as counsel in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and acted in mediations and arbitrations. He has particular expertise in intellectual property (copyright, trademarks and patents), media (defamation and privacy), trusts, contract and consumer protection law.

Tom is recommended by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019. He is a co-author of the patent infringement section in New Zealand's leading intellectual property commentary, “Intellectual Property Law" (LexisNexis), and is a member of IPSANZ. 

He joined Chapman Tripp in 2018 from Shortland Chambers where he was a barrister. Before that Tom was a Judges' Clerk and Clerk to the Rules Committee.

Recent experience

Tom has:

Media law

  • appeared in the Supreme Court in a high-profile defamation case about qualified privilege, damages awards and the circumstances when a jury's verdict can be set aside

  • appeared as senior counsel for MediaWorks in the High Court in a dispute over honest opinion and journalistic source protection

  • advised individuals, media organisations and government entities on defamation issues, including pre-publication vetting

Intellectual property

  • acted for a major New Zealand company, defending its health technology products against allegations of patent infringement and challenging the validity of the asserted patents
  • advised and assisted international clients in opposing pharmaceutical and veterinary patent applications
  • acted for Warner Bros and Universal Music in a royalty dispute over streaming revenue for Ed Sheeran’s song, “I See Fire”
  • acted for an international production company in a dispute over a former television channel and unpaid royalties
  • advised on IP due diligence for mergers and acquisitions

General civil litigation

  • appeared in the High Court and Court of Appeal successfully establishing that a director of a law firm was liable under the Fair Trading Act 1986 for actions relating to financing the share purchase of Orcon
  • appeared in the High Court challenging the enforcement in New Zealand of a multi-million dollar award by an overseas tribunal
  • advised on competition and consumer law issues, and
  • appeared in the Supreme Court successfully arguing that a commercial property was not held in trust and the transfer of that property was intended to defeat the respondent's rights in the property.
Litigation & dispute resolution; Intellectual property





Technology, media & telecommunications