William Akel

LLB(Hons), MJur, BCL(Oxon)

William Akel

LLB(Hons), MJur, BCL(Oxon)


William has extensive experience in wide ranging areas of general civil, property, trusts and equity, and public law litigation and alternative dispute resolution. He has appeared as counsel in numerous high-profile cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.  

A recognised expert in corporate and personal reputation management and defamation, William is one of New Zealand’s foremost media lawyers. He has been counsel in many of the leading cases in defamation, confidentiality, privacy, open justice, contempt, broadcasting standards, and censorship.

He has also been appointed amicus to assist the court in defamation cases in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Regularly providing pre-publication advice, William also presents at seminars on reputation and brand protection, privacy, and media issues.

William has also acted in numerous cases in the Cook Islands and Samoa representing governments and corporates in major constitutional, corporate, civil, and international trust disputes, and contested election petitions. He has a special interest in private international law.

William is a foundation member of Sangro Chambers. Prior to co-establishing Sangro, he was a partner at national law firm Simpson Grierson from 1978 to 2016.


  • New Zealand Law Society
  • Auckland District Law Society
  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • Cook Islands Law Society
  • International Bar Association
  • Media Law Resource Centre (New York)


Auckland University Senior Scholar in Law (1971)

Auckland University Hugh Campbell Scholarship in Law (1972)

New Zealand Law Society Cleary Memorial Prize (1972)

New Zealand Post Graduate Scholarship in Law (1973)

Oxford University Winter Williams Scholarship in Law (1973-74)

William has been acknowledged as a Leading Lawyer – Dispute Resolution by both Asia Pacific Legal 500, and Chambers Asia Pacific.

Notable Experience

Durie v Gardner & Maori Television Service  – established the public interest defence of responsible communications in defamation law in New Zealand

Sellman & Ors v Slater & Ors – defamation in the context of social media/internet

Ivanishvili & Ors v Credit Suisse & Ors – international trust and private international law

Rogers v TVNZ – leading authority on privacy and open justice

Peters v TVNZ – leading authority on reporting of Parliament and qualified privilege

Re Goldcorp Exchange Ltd – leading authority on equitable remedies as relates to secure and unsecured creditors

South Pacific Manufacturing Co Ltd v NZ Security Consultants – leading case on duty of care in the law of negligence

Premium Real Estate Ltd v Stevens – leading authority on fiduciary duties, equitable remedies, and Fair Trading Act liability

Hosking v Runting and Andrews v TVNZ – leading authorities on tort of invasion of privacy

Mafart v TVNZ – access to confidential Court video recording of the Rainbow Warrior case for television broadcast

European Pacific Banking Corp v TVNZ – public interest defence to breach of confidence, and disclosure of sources

Solicitor-General v TV3 Network Services Ltd and Berryman v Solicitor-General – criminal and civil contempt

R v Liddell and Re Victim X – leading authorities on identity suppression

Attorney-General for England and Wales v TVNZ – confidence and the Security and Intelligence Services

Attorney-General v TVNZ (Ahmed Zaoui) – media access to security detainees

TVNZ v Haines, TVNZ v Ah Koy, APN New Zealand Ltd v Simunovich Fisheries – leading authorities on defamation procedure

Bright v Town and Ware v Johnson – qualified privilege defence against public attack in defamation

Hester v CIR – application of New Zealand Bill of Rights Act to tax legislation

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v CIR – donations as charitable gifts in income tax law

USA v Dotcom & Ors and Dotcom v Attorney-General – extradition, and search and seizure

Ah Chong v The Legislative Assembly of Western Samoa & Ors (AWS) – challenge under the Constitution of Samoa to what was said and done in Parliament and the principle of non-intervention

Wigmore v Matapo (CKCA) and Glassie v Te Hani Brown (CIHC) –leading authorities on disputed elections in the Cook Islands