Rachael Schmidt-McCleave is an experienced litigator who has worked in New Zealand and the United Kingdom since commencing practice in 1996. Rachael has expertise in public law, education law, professional disciplinary law, medico-legal, privacy, employment and health and safety law. Rachael has regularly appeared in the District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as in other tribunals such as the Coroner’s Court, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court, the Māori Land Court and the Human Rights Review Tribunal, in judicial review proceedings and appeals and other general commercial litigation, health regulatory work and employment litigation.
Rachael has a particular interest in health law and, especially, in the overlap between law and psychiatry. Since commencing at the Bar, she has worked extensively with responsible authorities under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, as legal advisor to Professional Conduct Committees investigating complaints, and as prosecutor with respect to disciplinary charges. She is also a contract investigator/reviewer/mediator with Fairway Resolution and a contract mediator with Massey University.
Rachael spent almost a decade with the Crown Law Office (2001 – 2010) where, as an Associate Crown Counsel and Crown Counsel in the Public Law Group, she honed her expertise in public and constitutional law, particularly in areas where the activities of Government interact with commerce, and in areas of regulation. During her time at Crown Law, Rachael was also seconded to the legal teams of Treasury and of the then Securities Commission (now the Financial Markets Authority) and to the Constitutional Group at Crown Law.
Rachael commenced her legal career as a solicitor with Chen Palmer & Partners (1996 – 1997), before moving to Russell McVeagh as a solicitor and senior solicitor in Wellington (1997 – 2000) and onto Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as a senior associate in London (2000 – 2001). Rachael spent two and a half years working as a senior associate in the dispute resolutions team at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in Wellington (2010 – 2014), where she was a key member of the firm’s public law, health law, and health and safety law practices.
In 2017, Rachael was appointed the President of the New Zealand Film and Literature Board of Review, and in 2020 was made a Deputy Chair of the Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal. She also sits on two Standards Committees of the Law Society, and chairs a Complaints Assessment Committee of the Real Estate Authority. Rachael sits on the Council of the Arbitrators & Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ).
Qualifications and appointments
LLB (Hons, 1st), BA (English Literature & French), University of Otago, 1995
LLM (Hons, 1st), Victoria University of Wellington, 2003
MA (Creative Writing), Victoria University of Wellington, 2006
Graduate Diploma Business Studies (Dispute Resolution), Massey University, 2015
Admitted as Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 1996
President, New Zealand Film and Literature Board of Review, 2017
Deputy Chair, Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal, 2020
Health and Safety Handbook (Thomson Reuters, 2016 and 2018 editions)
Health and Safety at Work in New Zealand: Know the Law, Thomson Reuters (2015 and 2020 editions).
Author of Thomson Reuters online Health and Safety case notes and Accident Compensation case notes
Consulting Editor of Thomson Reuters Case Tracker on Accident Compensation
“Declaratory Relief”, “Costs” and “Limitation of Proceedings” chapters in Brookers Law of Civil Remedies (2nd ed. Thomson Reuters, Wellington, 2011).
“Nervous Shock Damages in New Zealand: The Implications for Health Providers after Palmer” Journal of Law and Medicine, February 2000.
“Wild Law, All Care and Responsibility”, NZ Wilderness Magazine, October 2004.
“The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act (No 2) and restricting judicial review” NZ Lawyer, 12 July 2013.
“The Use of Guidelines to aid Departmental and Ministerial decision-making – when does this fetter discretion?” NZ Lawyer, 9 August 2013.
“Alternative Dispute Resolution and the Courts” (2013) New Zealand Law Journal.
“Mediators’ Duty of Care” (2013) New Zealand Law Journal.
“Murray & ors v ACC – the inherent tension between the accident compensation legislation and traditional insurance schemes” Law News (ADLS), 28 March 2014
Awards and memberships
Otago Prize in Legal Systems 1991
Otago Family Law Prize 1995
Member, New Zealand Bar Association
Member, Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association
Associate, Arbitrators & Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand