The Commercial Bar Committee informs and advises the NZBA council on matters relevant to members of the Commercial Bar. The Commercial Bar consists of barristers who advise on commercial transactions or public law matters (such as inquiries and commissions) ;and who assist in the preparation of complex documentation. This is a specialist Bar, but one whose members are rarely if ever in court.
Most commercial advisory barristers have gone to the Independent Bar after careers in large law firms and/or government agencies. Invariably they have specialised in company law and business structures such as joint ventures, large and/or complex commercial transactions or contracts including construction and infrastructure project contracts and banking and securities law. Some went to the Bar and practised as advocacy barristers but have moved away from advocacy and into commercial and advisory work. Examples of work undertaken by a commercial barrister who falls into this category include advising on large-scale energy contracts, long-term pricing, credit rating applications, as well as advising overseas governments on energy resource development.
Their specialisation means they provide advice to smaller and/or non-metropolitan law firms whose clients do not typically undertake larger scale or complex transactions. Such law firms are comfortable instructing commercial barristers because they recognise that there is no risk of their clients being “poached”. Similarly, practising as barristers enables conflict referrals from the large law firms where their specialist skills are required.
Some practise as barristers because they can be instructed as subject matter specialists by in-house legal teams of large corporates, government departments and Crown entities. In many cases the in-house legal teams provide substantial resources to support an experienced and commercially aware senior practitioner.