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A-LAW INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM has further expanded its international reach with the launch of its Australasian desk covering the New Zealand and Australian markets. Belgian clients can now benefit from professional guidance on local customs and laws – a necessity, Managing Partner Patricia Leers says, for a successful approach when entering new markets. She adds that the Australasian desk complements A-LAW INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM’s already strong Asia-Pacific presence in China and Vietnam.

In line with A-Law’s philosophy, the A-Law international desks are led by local legal professionals, who can advise A-Law clients on the “big picture” of business opportunities and challenges in their respective countries.

Legal Counsel Kim Watts, head of the Australasian desk and head of the UK/Ireland desk

Kim Watts is a legal counsel and communications professional with international and multi-sector experience and perspective. Kim worked as a commercial lawyer for law firms in New Zealand, in the areas of dispute resolution, competition law, consumer law and debt recovery. Kim is an enrolled barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

Kim also gained experience as a legal communications professional in Ireland’s legal sector. Kim can help A-Law clients with commercial law, dispute resolution, competition law, consumer law and business advisory issues across the Australasian and UK/Ireland markets.

Contact Managing Partner Patricia Leers ( or visit for further information about our Belgian and international team of attorneys and counsels at your service in Antwerp, and our practice areas focusing on national, European and international issues.

Top Tips for Investing and Doing Business in New Zealand

New Zealand has overtaken Singapore to be ranked the easiest place in the world to do business (World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Report – available here ). New Zealand is renowned internationally for its low levels of corruption, stable government and legal system and relatively straightforward taxation and business rules. A-Law Legal Counsel Kim Watts has put together some top tips and information for businesses and individuals who want to invest and do business in this small but globally-focused South Pacific country.

1 – Distance doesn’t mean disconnected

Despite its isolated location, New Zealand businesses and consumers are very aware of global trends and popular products and services available in other markets. Foreign businesses introducing high-quality, specialist European products have a good chance of success.  Small and medium businesses (SMEs) that are new to exporting into English-speaking markets may find New Zealand to be a worthwhile test market.

2 - Streamlined tax environment

Income tax (including tax on interest) and VAT (called "goods and services tax") are the main types of taxation in New Zealand. There are no separate social security taxes or contributions. Capital gains tax is only payable in a few select situations, and there is no gift duty, stamp duty or estate duty payable in New Zealand. 

3 - Unique health and safety and accident compensation rules

There are comprehensive, and recently revised, workplace health and safety laws that apply to all types of New Zealand workplaces. New Zealand operates a unique no-fault accident compensation regime, that covers everyone in New Zealand (including non-residents and visitors). This means that in most cases it is not possible to sue for death or personal injury.  Levies are charged to both employees and employers to fund the regime.

4 - Straightforward company registration

In New Zealand, businesses can be operated via a company, partnership/limited partnership, joint venture, trust or a sole proprietorship. Establishing a limited liability company in New Zealand is very straightforward, and can be completed online in just one day.  The World Bank ranked New Zealand first globally for ease of starting a business in its 2017 Doing Business Report.

5 - Free Trade Friendly

New Zealand has an open and internationally competitive economy. There are no import tariffs on most goods imported into the country. New Zealand has agreed a number of free trade agreements with countries including China, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea - reflecting its strong links with the Asia-Pacific region. It is also a party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

6 - Strong intellectual property protections – but parallel importing is allowed

New Zealand has comprehensive intellectual property protection measures in place, including a central register of intellectual property rights and interests. However, there is virtually no restriction on the parallel importation of goods – businesses interested in setting up a distributor or licensee relationship in New Zealand should take note of this. Pirated and counterfeit goods are illegal.

7 - Flourishing sectors

When somebody thinks of New Zealand, they might first think of sheep! Certainly agriculture, and particularly dairy in recent years, dominates New Zealand’s export-focused economy. There are opportunities in New Zealand for specialist European agricultural technology companies who offer innovative machinery, biotechnology and other products. Like many developed countries, New Zealand has an increasingly elderly population. There is likely to be increased demand for medical, health and safety technologies. New Zealand creative industries have received international acclaim, and this is another area where international expertise and collaboration may be welcomed by local businesses.

8 - The UK Connection

As a former British colony, New Zealand's legal system is a common law system based originally on English law. This also means that New Zealand laws are broadly similar to those in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and other former colonies. New Zealand has very low levels of corruption. Alternative dispute resolution techniques such as arbitration are popular, but the courts cannot force parties to use these methods.

9 - The Australian Connection

For decades the Australian and New Zealand governments have worked hard to create a seamless common Australasian business market. Businesses interested in both the Australian and New Zealand markets will be pleased to find that there are identical or similar regulations that apply to many industries and products in both countries. New Zealand and Australia share a common cultural heritage and have a friendly bilateral relationship.

10 - Straight talking, straight dealing

New Zealand business culture could generally be described as friendly, efficient and practical. High levels of immigration, an excellent education system and a local economy that's been forced to adapt to globalisation has made modern New Zealand multicultural, highly educated and sharply business minded. Expect prompt and to-the-point responses to emails and less formality than in other, older countries.




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