Elana Geddis Barrister

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Elana Geddis


Elana Geddis has 25 years’ experience providing advice and representation on all aspects of public and public international law to clients in New Zealand and overseas.

She relishes difficult problems and enjoys assisting clients to navigate new or complex issues.  An experienced negotiator and advocate, Elana also particularly enjoys acting on non-contentious matters and frequently provides legal, policy and strategic advice outside of a litigation context.

Elana is able to assist clients with a wide range of public law problems – whether advising on the exercise of statutory powers, assisting with reviews and inquiries, reviewing legislative developments, or challenging public decisions directly or in the courts.    She has a deep knowledge of government processes and is regularly instructed to develop solutions at the interface of law and policy.

A former diplomatic legal advisor, Elana has comprehensive experience in all aspects of public international law and its application in New Zealand.  She is familiar with diplomatic negotiations and dispute settlement, drafting and interpreting international treaties, and implementing international obligations in domestic law. Elana is able to provide practical advice that makes sense in a real world context, taking account of surrounding political and strategic issues.

Elana has appeared as counsel in the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, an UNCLOS Annex VII Tribunal and the New Zealand Supreme Court.   She is also a nominated arbitrator, mediator and conciliator under UNCLOS, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific and the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty.

For more information: www.elanageddis.com


LLB (Hons, 1st class), University of Otago, 1995
LLM, Harvard Law School, 1996
Admitted as Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 1996

Instructed by New Zealand in its intervention before the International Court of Justice in Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation)

Expert Advisor (International Law) NZ Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and Related Matters (2018-2020)

Counsel for the NZ Airline Pilots’ Association before the New Zealand Supreme Court in Wellington International Airport Ltd v NZ Airline Pilots’ Association Industrial Union of Workers Inc. [2017] NZSC 199

Counsel for New Zealand before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (Case No. 21) [2015] ITLOS Reports 4

Counsel for New Zealand before the International Court of Justice, Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan: New Zealand Intervening) [2014] ICJ Reports 226

Chief of Staff to Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry into the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident (2010-2011)

Alternate Head of New Zealand Delegation to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (2006-2008)

Legal Advisor, New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations (2001-2004)

Counsel for New Zealand before the UNCLOS Annex VII Tribunal in the Southern Bluefin Tuna cases (Australia & New Zealand v Japan) (jurisdiction) (2000) XXIII UNRIAA 1

Counsel for New Zealand before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the Southern Bluefin Tuna cases (Australia & New Zealand v Japan) (provisional measures) [1999] ITLOS Reports 280

“International Law and Public Law Decision-Making” in Geddis, Keith and Smith Public Law Rights and Obligations (NZLS CLE Ltd, Wellington, 2021)

Technical and Legal Challenges in the Statement of Understanding, Presentation to the IHO/IAG Advisory Board on the Law of the Sea, 10th Conference, Monaco, 7-9 October 2019 (with Ray Wood)

“Addressing Terrorism in New Zealand’s Low Threat Environment”, in I. Cram Extremism, Free Speech and Counter-Terrorism Law and Policy (Routledge, Oxford, 2019) (with Andrew Geddis)

Member of the International Seabed Authority Expert Working Group on the Role of the Sponsoring State in Deep Seabed Mining, Singapore, April 2019

The New Zealand Continental Shelf Project: 10 Years On, Plenary Speaker, Geoscience Society of New Zealand Annual Conference, 28 November 2018 (with Dr Vaughan Stagpoole)

The Sponsoring State’s Due Diligence Obligation: A Framework for Implementation, Presentation to 39th annual conference of the University of Virginia’s Centre for Oceans Law and Policy, Shanghai, China, 24-26 June 2015 (published in M. Nordquist ed International Marine Economy: Law and Policy (Brill/Nijhoff, Boston, 2017))

“Whaling in the Antarctic: Some Reflections by Counsel” (2013) 11 New Zealand Yearbook of International Law 143 (with Dr Penelope Ridings)

“Moving Forward – But Where is it Heading? A Comment on Developments in the UN Sixth Committee’s Discussions on Universal Jurisdiction” (2011) 9 New Zealand Yearbook of International Law 203

Engaging with the Sub-commission: A Collaborative Process, Presentation to International Workshop “Sharing Experiences on the Delineation of the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf”, Argentina, 12-14 October 2011

Improving your UNCLOS Submission: Some Thoughts on Text and Figures, Presentation to the IHO/IAG Advisory Board on the Law of the Sea, 5th Conference, Monaco, 15-17 October 2008 (with Ray Wood)

“Liability for Environmental Emergencies in Antarctica” (2006) 3 New Zealand Yearbook of International Law 201

“Protecting the Antarctic Environment: Liability for Environmental Emergencies in Antarctica” (2005) XIII(3) Resource Management Law Journal 28

“Good Neighbours Make Good Fences – Australia and New Zealand Agree Maritime Boundaries”, (2004) 4 ANZSIL Newsletter 5 (with Andrew Serdy)

International Environmental Law: Covering Gaps in the 21st Century, American Society of International Law/Australia-New Zealand Society of International Law joint session, Sydney, July 2000

Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship, Harvard University, 1995
Otago District Law Society Prize (top graduating student), University of Otago, 1994
A.C. Holden Mooting Shield, University of Otago, 1994
University Book Shop Prize (top student, family law), 1993
Women’s Award, University of Otago, 1993
Louis Olive Memorial Price (top second year student), University of Otago, 1992
Caudwells’ Prize (top student, public law), University of Otago, 1992
Member, NZLS Public and Administrative Law Committee
Member, New Zealand Bar Association | Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture
Member, Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association
Member, International Law Association (NZ Branch)
Member, Lawyers for Climate Action NZ