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Stephen Quinn

Stephen is an expert in his field and one of the best resource management lawyers in the country…he is always practical, approachable, accessible and very commercial as well.
Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022

Stephen Quinn is a litigation partner who specialises in environmental, infrastructure, building and local government litigation. 

Stephen has been at DLA Piper for over 30 years.  He enjoys working with the firm’s clients and the exceptional team at DLA Piper to achieve great outcomes. 

Stephen specialises in a wide variety of statutory and decision-making processes, including:

Resource management and planning:  With involvement in everything from resource consent issues, designations, plan drafting and interpretation, enforcement, mediation, Council hearings, Court proceedings, Board of Inquiry hearings, direct referral proceedings.


Building:  With involvement in all aspects of regulatory advice, enforcement, determination applications and appeals, and civil litigation arising from building related claims.


General civil litigation: Involvement in many types of civil proceedings, particularly defending local authorities.

Other local government regulatory area:  Including decision making under the LGA, governance issues, bylaws and LGOIMA.


  • Building Act Matters: Stephen advises local authorities and government entities, including Auckland Council and Nelson City Council, on a full range of Building Act matters from interpretation through to dispute resolution before MBIE, the District Court, arbitration and determinations.  Recent determination issues Stephen has been involved in concern the jurisdiction of the Building Act 2004 over offshore construction, council process regarding building consent conditions and third party expert sign off for cladding materials. Stephen also has recent involvement in determination issues concerning the ability to build across boundaries and the application of section 75 of the Building Act 2004 to leasehold interests and the process followed in respect of historic building works now seeking code compliance certification.
  • Auckland Council: Stephen has wide range of regulatory and litigation instructions for the Auckland Council, including resource consent appeals relating to rest homes, commercial developments in industrial areas, function centres and 1080 poison drop operations.  His judicial review defences for the Council include residential expansions and the effect of land covenants on development rights.
  • Marlborough District Council: Representing Council on the Board of Inquiry and subsequent appeals for New Zealand King Salmon's proposed expansion into prohibited areas of the Marlborough Sounds.  Other files for the Council include the demolition of the heritage grandstand at the A&P Showgrounds and determinations being sought regarding swimming pool fencing disputes and advice on implementation of the Council’s one plan.
  • Department of Corrections: Stephen represented the Department of Corrections on the proposed extension of its Waikeria Prison in Otorohanga. This involves the provision of legal advice and representation in Court on all matters relating to the required environmental approvals for the expansion of Waikeria Prison in Otorohanga from a 650 prisoner facility to a 3,000 prisoner place facility. The designation amendment was successfully obtained. This project follows a similar project where Stephen was the lead lawyer that successfully obtained amendment to the designation authorising the Auckland South Men's and Auckland South Women's Prison Facilities at Wiri. Like the Waikeria project, DLA Piper were the lead RMA legal advisors on that project and were involved from the outset of the proposal through to successfully obtaining the required approvals following a Board of Inquiry process. Stephen has also advised on issues relating to Mt Eden, Rolleston, Waikeria, New Plymouth, Spring Hill, Otago, Northland Wanganui, Hawkes Bay and Rimutaka prisons.  He is currently involved in appeals regarding the control of stormwater discharges from Whanganui prison.
  • Hutt City Council: Acting for a recreational hunting group in a High Court judicial review in 2016 that successfully overturned a decision by the Minister for Conservation regarding licensing to cull animals by helicopters.
  • English
  • Victoria University of Wellington, LLB (Hons), 1993


  • Stephen is ranked as a Band 1 Environment & Resource Management lawyer in the Chambers Asia-Pacific 2019 rankings. Chambers noting that Stephen is "a well-regarded practitioner with extensive experience in resource management and building law, including contentious matters before the courts and relevant tribunals".
  • Stephen is given particular mention in the Legal 500 Asia-Pacific rankings 2018 for being "known for advising Crown entities, state-owned enterprises, government departments and local government on resource management and environmental law".
  • Stephen was ranked as a leading Environment & Resource Management lawyer in Chambers Asia-Pacific 2019, with Chambers commenting that he 'is a well-regarded practitioner with extensive experience in resource management and building law, including contentious matters before the courts and relevant tribunals.'
  • Stephen was ranked as a leading Environment & Resource Management lawyer in Chambers Asia-Pacific 2016, with Chambers noting that he 'is well regarded for his strength acting for district and city councils in Environment Court proceedings related to private development plans. He is also experienced in handling hearings administered under the Environmental Protection Authority.'
  • Stephen was ranked as a leading Environment & Resource Management lawyer in Chambers Asia-Pacific Guide 2015, with Chambers commenting that 'Stephen Quinn is appreciated by clients for his knowledge in this field, as one states: "He produces top-quality work; I couldn't fault it."'

Memberships And Affiliations

  • New Zealand Law Society
  • Resource Management Law Association
  • New Zealand Minerals Industry Association