Thoughtful and effective problem solving and advocacy
Client feedback reflects that Isabella is collaborative, conscientious, calm, and communicative. Her work is thorough and of high quality. Isabella’s key strengths include oral and written advocacy, meticulous analysis, presenting complex concepts simply, and developing strong relationships with clients and colleagues. Isabella accepts instructions for both junior and senior roles.
Isabella is a highly capable civil litigator. In 2008 Isabella started her career at Russell McVeagh, where she acted on the Todd v Shell & OMV “Pohokura Offtake” litigation. Following some overseas travel, Isabella joined the Crown Law Office in 2011. Over the past decade, she has represented and advised a wide range of Crown agencies, Ministers, and officials. She led the Crown Law immigration practice group for a number of years before joining the Independent Bar in 2020. Isabella was named an Elite Woman by New Zealand Lawyer in 2023.
Isabella has experience in commercial and contractual disputes, Treaty of Waitangi, and public law litigation and advice. She has appeared in the senior courts, the Waitangi Tribunal, Māori Land Court, and private arbitration proceedings. Recent cases include judicial review proceedings ranging from immigration to bankruptcy, appeals, and privacy proceedings. Isabella also acts for the Crown in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Porirua ki Manawatū district inquiry. She also provides an independent audit of investigations and dispute resolution files for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
Isabella aims to promote and connect women in the law. She is committed to the welfare of her colleagues and is an advocate for workplace safety, well-being, and respect. She has been a committee member of the Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association since 2018. Outside the law, Isabella enjoys bush walks, book club, and collecting Beatles memorabilia.
LLB (Hons, 1st), University of Otago, 2007
BA (Hons, 1st) (Political Studies), University of Otago, 2007
Admitted as Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, February 2009
Awards, publications, and memberships
Russell McVeagh School Scholarship 2001
International Environmental Law Prize, University of Otago 2006
“On the Origin of ‘Forensic Frippery’: the Evolution of Common Law Legal Attire” (2006) 1 NZLSJ 155
Committee Member, Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association
Member, New Zealand Bar Association | Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture
Elite Woman, New Zealand Lawyer Elite Women List 2023
- NA (India) v Refugee and Protection Officer  NZHC 1345: Isabella acted for the Refugee and Protection Officer. NA unsuccessfully sought leave to appeal and to judicially review the decision of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal to grant an adjournment shorter than that sought by NA in his refugee and protection status appeal.
- CO (Philippines) v Immigration and Protection Tribunal  NZHC 654;  NZCA 416: Isabella acted for the Refugee and Protection Officer in the High Court and Court of Appeal, successfully defending applications for leave to judicially review a decision of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal dismissing CO’s refugee and protection status appeal.
- Koro-Neho v Oranga Tamariki  NZHC 1354: Isabella acted for Oranga Tamariki in an appeal which unsuccessfully challenged parenting orders made by the Family Court.
- Taylor v Minister of Immigration  NZHC 657: Isabella acted for the Minister and successfully opposed Mr Taylor’s application to extend time to apply for judicial review of the Minister’s decision not to intervene in Mr Taylor’s case.
- Meng v Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  NZHC 82: Isabella acted for the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and successfully struck out the applicant’s judicial review proceedings seeking to challenge various aspects of New Zealand’s border policies.
- Hewitson v Official Assignee  NZHC 57: Isabella acted for the Official Assignee in this judicial review proceeding which unsuccessfully challenged the Official Assignee’s decision to sell the bankrupt’s property.
- JE (India) v Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  NZHC 91;  NZCA 307; JE (India) v Minister of Immigration  NZHC 3073: In the High Court and Court of Appeal, Isabella acted for the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, defending applications for leave to appeal and judicially review the decision of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal to uphold JE’s liability for deportation. Isabella acted for the Minister of Immigration in the subsequent, and also unsuccessful, judicial review proceeding relating to the validity of the relevant immigration instructions.
- Arbitration: The Crown and Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu agreed to resolve through private arbitration differences about what should be included in the Relativity Mechanism calculations. Isabella has acted for the Crown in this proceeding since 2013.
- Attorney-General v Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand Inc & Alan Reay  NZHC 3211,  NZLR 731;  NZCA 475: The Attorney-General brought an application to judicially review IPENZ’s decision to discontinue disciplinary proceedings against Dr Reay (whose firm designed the CTV building which collapsed in the Christchurch earthquakes). Isabella argued the error of law aspect (contractual and purposive analysis of the IPENZ rules) in the High Court and took the whole argument in the Court of Appeal.
- Patel v Minister of Immigration  NZHC 577;  NZHC 2616;  NZHC 1618;  NZCA 607;  NZSC 27: Isabella acted for the Minister of Immigration in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court (leave application on the papers) in this proceeding which addressed the meaning of “concealed” in s 202 of the Immigration Act 2009 and the scope (when culpability to be considered) of s 207 of that Act.
- Li v Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: Isabella acted for the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in the High Court application for leave to appeal and judicially review decision of Immigration and Protection Tribunal to uphold liability for deportation ( NZHC 2977,  NZAR 265, 2017). This decision confirmed the Immigration and Protection Tribunal cannot review the merits of deportation liability decisions in a humanitarian appeal. The High Court decision granting the Crown leave to appeal on a matter of procedure ( NZHC 1171,  NZAR 1134) (in which Isabella appeared as junior counsel with Ian Carter) described the test for leave to appeal an interlocutory decision under s 56 of the Senior Courts Act 2016 .
- Ceramalus v Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  NZSC 26, (2018) 24 PRNZ 8: Isabella acted for the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in this application for leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court a decision of the High Court striking out a judicial review of decisions declining visa applications. The Supreme Court left open the question of whether a decision striking out a proceeding was an interlocutory decision, but said that earlier decisions to the effect that it was should not be treated as resolving the issue definitively.
- Singh (Mandeep) v Immigration and Protection Tribunal  NZHC 1825: Isabella acted for the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in this appeal and judicial review of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal’s decision upholding the decline of residence visas.
- Mizoguchi v Immigration and Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal  NZHC 3198,  NZAR 451: Isabella acted for the Registrar of Immigration Advisers in this judicial review of the handling of a complaint against Mr Mizoguchi.
- Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development v Port  NZHC 1314: Isabella acted for the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development in the Crown’s case stated appeal concerning whether payments by instalment for exercise equipment amounted to an expense of an ongoing kind for the purposes of the disability allowance.
- Singh v Chief Executive, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  NZCA 592,  NZAR 93;  NZSC 39: This proceeding confirmed the parameters of judicial review under s 177 of the Immigration Act 2009 (cancellation of deportation orders). Isabella appeared as junior counsel with Ian Carter in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court (leave application on the papers).
- Mackenzie v Attorney-General  NZHC 1876;  NZCA 24;  NZSC 60;  NZSC 110: This proceeding concerned whether Mr Mackenzie had brought his negligence claim relating to the post-mortem removal of his son’s heart out of time. Isabella acted as lead counsel for the Attorney-General in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court (leave application on the papers).
- Ngāti Kahu Remedies Report 2012 (Wai 45): Ngāti Kahu sought binding and non-binding recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal. Isabella appeared as junior counsel with Kieran Raftery in this week long hearing.
- Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust v Attorney-General  NZHC 3181: Following an unsuccessful application to the Waitangi Tribunal, Taranaki Whānui sought declarations of inconsistency that the Crown was in breach of that iwi’s Deed of Settlement and Settlement Act by entering into a Deed of Settlement with Ngāti Toa. Isabella appeared as junior counsel with Paul Radich QC in the Waitangi Tribunal and High Court.
- Todd Pohokura Ltd v Shell & OMV (“offtake” proceeding) HC Wellington CIV-2006-485-1600, 13 July 2010: After numerous interlocutory contests, this ten week High Court hearing involved joint venture contract interpretation and Commerce Act claims. Isabella appeared as junior counsel with Jim Farmer QC for Todd.