Dominion Law – Music and Entertainment Law
Creative people are the way they are because they look at the world in a different way to everyone else. Unsurprisingly — they need something different from a lawyer.
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At Dominion Law, we do everything you'd expect from a law firm. The difference is, we're a little particular about who we do it for. That's because there's a particular type of person that we believe we understand better than most. We discovered through our history within the entertainment and music industries that we like dealing with creative people. And they seem to like dealing with us. Probably because, long ago, we realised that creative people need a different approach to the one they'd get from a more conservative law firm. Besides, we just enjoy working with people who are used to thinking a little differently. People who don't always conform to accepted models. People with crazy ideas. The kind that might just take the world by storm. So that's who we want as our clients. Creative people. Creative businesses. Musicians & entertainers of course. Film makers and artists. The entrepreneurs & mavericks. People with ideas, with vision. People that make things happen. It might be as complex and corporate as developing a film or starting a business. It might be as simple or small or personal as selling a house or changing a will. Whatever it is, creative people need creative lawyers.
The leading specialist entertainment law firm in New Zealand, Dominion Law acts for a wide range of clients, from internationally successful artists in the music industry, film studios and large media companies, to young bands and first-time film producers.
We are primarily commercial lawyers who have particular expertise in the music, film, television and related creative industries. We provide industry specific advice to our clients in how to exploit the rights that exist in their particular arenas, from how to licence a song to a commercial or film, to how to obtain a record deal.
We provide a broad range of advice to New Zealand clients, as well as to international clients operating in New Zealand.
The services we provide include:
- Strategic Advice across all areas of rights exploitation
- Business and personal structures including companies, partnerships and trusts
- Deal negotiation across the music, film and television industries
- Preparing and reviewing contracts
- Dispute resolution
- Advice on all intellectual property issues
- Trade mark advice and applications
We also provide our clients with a wide range of general legal services including:
- Advice on employment issues
- Conveyancing services
- Will and trusts
- Relationship property
We are also able to advise clients about the various Government and non Government funding opportunities that are available to them in relation to their arts and entertainment activities.
All work we undertake for you is carried out according to our terms of business. You can download a copy here.
Terms of Business (203 KB PDF)
Chris is the managing partner and a specialist in entertainment law, with a particular bias towards music and new media. He founded the firm in 1995 after having traveled the world and realising that being smaller was an asset not a liability. He recognised the internet would remove the tyranny of distance and is almost beside himself now that our third world broadband is slowly being upgraded.
He continues to represent the top echelons of the New Zealand Music industry. He is also a partner in the boutique label Dryden Street along with his friends and clients Ashley Page and Joel Little. He is one of NZ's leading legal experts in digital media and has a practical grasp of the issues involved in this rapidly changing area through his various commercial interests including the digital aggregator DRM NZ. Recently he has even become involved in developing a skin care range, as much for the insight into marketing and product development as for the challenge again of trying to crack it globally.
ddi: +64 9 847 9251
mob: +64 21 418365
skype: chris.hocquard (location Auckland, New Zealand)
Tim Riley - Partner
Tim Riley provides a broad range of clients with serious commercial and practical advice. Before seeing the light and crossing over from the dark side to join Dominion Law he was a financial services lawyer for 12 years. That background enables him to continue to work closely providing commercial and IP advice to many creative clients both inside and outside the entertainment industries. He now specialises in film and TV, general commercial, IP and media law.
One of NZ’s leading film lawyers, his entertainment practice is focussed largely on the film and TV industries. As well as producers, directors, writers and actors, he also represents most of NZ’s film and TV industry bodies, including Script to Screen (which he is on the board of), the Directors and Editors Guild of NZ and the Film and Video Technicians Guild.
Tim is a film producer himself, having a feature film producer credit (for the NZ – Canada Co-production, Turbo Kid) and a number of associate producer credits.
Tim is on the board of the company that runs the Qantas Screen Awards and is a member of SPADA and WIFT. He is the designated legal provider to the Screen Directors Guild and its members, a function that he also performs for Actors Equity. Tim writes regularly for TAKE and ONFILM magazines.
ddi: +64 9 847 9250
519 New North Road
P +64 9 847 9013
F +64 9 845 2082
Murray's one of our favourite clients and we've worked with him for years now doing everything he can throw at us.
Kate's a master of intelligent and slightly subversive design. It is really exciting to be working with such an established and inspiring Kiwi label as it grows wings and flies internationally.
Joel and us go way back, back when he was in Goodnight Nurse and we have been with him all the way. We always say that our job is one where we really know we have succeeded with our music clients when they have to leave us, a bit like children leaving home, but Joel just keeps on hanging in there.
It started as an experiment to see how a singles label might work in the NZ market and the first single from Kids of 88 just exploded.
We have been with them from the start, from the jottings on the back of a napkin at Shakey Isles, through the various short form agreements with the artists, the highs and lows of the US offers and the deals with Sony and EMI.
We followed it up with Broods and seem to have a bit of a formula going now with Jarryd James, October, Robinson and Nika.
This is a roller coaster, the stakes are huge, the contracts are 50 pages long and there are loads of them and the level of involvement is intense, but this is where we need to be, right at the cutting edge of the industry and trying to drive it from little old NZ. We have the office in the Capitol Building in Hollywood for when we need it.
We act for Pango Productions Limited, the company started by the award winning producer Bailey Mackey and its related companies.
Pango is a prolific producer of New Zealand content, producing amongst other things 'Marae' a weekly current affairs show from a Maori worldview, Sidewalk Karaoke the hugely entertaining talent show, and the cooking shows Angelo’s Outdoor Kitchen and The Game Chef. Pango have recently created the specialist KAHA a cloud based software system for producers.
Forget Paul Weller, in New Zealand Tim is the godfather.
We have been part of Tim's team since his return home in 1999. We have worked with him on his record deals, his publishing, his musical play and countless other projects.
The Down Low Concept
As they say on their website, The DLC was started by Ryan, Jarrod, Nigel, and kune kune called Salmon.
They are the Auckland production company responsible for TV3’s acclaimed comedy panel show “7 Days”.
The Down Low boys are young, creative, entrepreneurial and hard working. They are bubbling over with ideas, and with the commercial and industry nous to make something of them. (Because we all know that an idea on its own is worth fuck-all in this business). And after a hard year’s work, if they want to spend the whole Big Day Out drinking in the East Lounge, well, who’s going to blame them!
Hunter S Thompson called the TV industry a “shallow plastic money trench where pimps roam free and good men die like dogs”. Well, the DLC have turned that on its head and are good men roaming free in a deep money trench made of gold!
We have worked with the Down Low Concept for a few years now and have assisted them with funding applications, broadcast and other license agreements, distribution deals, format sales, director and other creative agreements as well as looking after their boring commercial stuff like leases. We love them!
It's always been slightly confusing for our receptionists having a number of famous clients with similar names but over the years we have worked out a way to resolve this, the owner of this fashion industry staple and all round entertainment industry mogul is always know by his full name.
We love working with Tim Phinn, he is that rare breed of creative and businessman, prone to coming up with left of centre ideas but aso very, very aware of the detail.
Tom was recognised as a Future Leader of the industry in Screen Internationals Special Cannes 2015 publication, heralded as one of the top emerging producers from around the globe.
His feature film, 'The Dark Horse', became a box office smash ($2M) and audience fave here, before launching internationally at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film received fantastic reviews and sold to all major territories around the world. 'The Dark Horse' went on to win a number of awards at top film festivals (including Audience Awards at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival), and launched theatrically in the UK, the US and other territories around the world.
This year, Tom produced the reimagining of 'Pork Pie' which became the fourth highest grossing local release during its first five days in NZ cinemas and the brilliant psychological thriller 'Human Traces' which recently premiered at the 2017 NZ International Film Festival.
That's what we are talking about, NZ getting up and doing it on the world stage, and not by disappearing over there, but doing it from here.
Tim has worked with Tom on all three features.
You might wonder how these guys fit in here. Everyone else seems so glamorous.
Mark Bateman has been a client of Dominion Law's from the outset. He is a bit of a visionary. He started out storing people's gear in Grey Lynn, which is how we met him, who doesn't need a lock up in this industry and we have worked together ever since. In that time he has opened branches, created franchises and developed incredible software systems. He is a true creative and the perfect example of what we look for in a client.
General Film Corporation
GFC productions have won fourteen New Zealand Film Awards (generated from thirty five nominations), won a New Zealand Music Award, been nominated for a London Critics Circle Award and long listed for two BAFTA's.
Tim works closely with GFC's managing director and lead producer, Matthew Metcalfe as and when the need arises, and as you can imagine things proceed in a fairly orderly manner.
Originally planned as a one-off show in Auckland to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death Pop-Up Globe is going global. We are stoked to be on the ride with them.
Dave's another one who we have worked with forever, from his major labels days through to his trail blazing progression to indie artist, we have stood loyally beside him as has he with us.
We never know what Dave will do next but we do know it will never be boring.
Ashley Page started life in music in the U.K. as International Promotions Manager at Mushroom / Infectious Records, overseeing the Worldwide campaigns for a wide variety of major artists from Garbage, Ash, and Peter Andre (yeah we know, why would you mention that).
In 2000 Ashley moved to New Zealand where he took up the A&R and Label Management post at Festival Mushroom Records and Flying Nun Records – signing the Mint Chicks in 2003. Ashley was Head of A&R and Australasian Marketing Manager at Warner Music New Zealand from 2005-2008 . we worked with him throughout this period but always on the other side of the deals.
When Ashley Page left Warner late 2008, and set up Page One Management he switched sides and we have been working together ever since. He currently manages BROODS and Jarryd James and finally after years of being too English to push himself forward, the MMF had no choice but to award him NZ Music Manager of the Year.
A bit of an upstart, Filthy Productions is the production company formed by the creative brains behind many of NZ's most successful and most loved productions over the last couple of decades.
Filthy Productions is producing the new prime time drama series Filthy Rich, and we are hoping that by being associated with it some of that glamour and success will rub off on us.
NZ Music Commission
Chris was deputy chair of the Music Commisison for a number of years and has continued his involvement by remaining their appointed legal counsel. As well as providing specific legal work for the Commisssion as needs arise he also provides a free legal advice service to NZ Musicians through the commission.
When you sit down and write a list of who are the most creative corporates out there it doesn't take long to come up with these guys. From their work with extreme sport through to their embracing of local musicians through the Red Bull Academy, Red Bull have always been on our list.
We are local counsel for Red Bull in New Zealand. We're not 100% sure what that means from one day to the next but its nice having them around.
Curious Film is a full-service production company that represents some of the region’s most dynamic commercial directors and photographers.
We provide advice and again we react to what they need and when they need it. There are lots of them involved, they are all incredibly creative and it can be very different from one day to the next, but that's what makes it interesting.
Rhythm & Vines
We started working with R&V about five years ago as they transitioned from a one day festival to a three days new year's eve extravaganza, and the largest music festival in New Zealand.
The promotions business is not for the faint of heart and every year this client throws something new and challenging at as and that's why we love it. Its not just the Festival that is young, its the way it keeps breaking ground and forcing new behaviour and models on the rest of the industry.
Great Southern Film and Television
Great Southern is a spirited multi-genre indie that aims to make great television and film for the world.
For us they are near the perfect client, with their blend of creative and practical, creating programmes that can stand on their own anywhere in the world.
New Zealand Film Commission
The New Zealand Film Commission is a crown entity working to grow the New Zealand film industry.
We have recently, through Gervais, had the opportunity to work directly alongside them to help contract a major feature film, almost like poacher turned game keeper. The insight we have gained being able to sit on the other side of the table will be of enormous benefit to not only us as lawyers but also our clients as we have an acute understanding of the way the Commission works.
Johnson & Laird
Johnson and Laird are NZ’s leading Talent Agency, representing the country’s best actors, MCs/entertainers/speakers/corporate and voice talent. We have worked with Immy and her team from the outset and have watched the business grow into the powerhouse it has become.
Their latest moves into digital spaces are particularly exciting for us to be involved with as the whole market reinvents itself.
We have to be a bit careful how we describe these people. They are a bit like an ad agency but then they're not too. They do all the stuff that agencies do but that just doesn't really describe them, and of course that's exactly the kind of client we love. I think they are a brand experience agency but that doesn't capture it, and digital agency doesn't either really.
They say this "We are a multidisciplinary team of talents of many persuasions, working locally and globally with top tier clients to create provocative ideas that live within advertising, entertainment, and technology" , its almost as if we made them up so we could find someone to fit our perfect client mould.
We do whatever they need and we do it with them.
Fabric Shelter Systems
They made the giant Rugby World Cup ball that resided next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris for the last world cup and was at the Rugby World Cup in Auckland in 2011.
They made the giant rubber duck floating in Auckland harbour that was used to launch Mediaworks’ new TV channel – Four.
They made “the Cloud”; the glass and steel structure erected on Auckland’s waterfront to serve as a conference centre/entertainment venue/showpiece of NZ culture during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Jesus! What the hell haven’t these guys done? Well in the field of temporary structures, both those with an artistic bent, and the purely utilitarian (for example the huge fabric and steel structure sheltering the construction site for the Victoria Park motorway underpass) there’s nothing they haven’t done.
Fabric Shelter Systems is a dynamic company with 2 principal shareholders, all of whom are working their arses off all over the world trying to keep up with the demand for their innovative and imaginative solutions to the simple human need for shelter.
Dominion Law’s association with FSS goes back a number of years. During that time we have acted for FSS in a number of significant transactions including construction contracts, acquisitions, mergers, corporate restructures, international partnerships and joint ventures; shareholder agreements and a range of related corporate and commercial work. We have also looked after them through some major disputes (including a dispute arising from the destruction by wind of an outdoor studio used in the Narnia film). We provide specialised IP advice on the design/artistic side of FSS’s business, including trademarks and patents, and we look after the personal, property and family affairs of one of the principals.
We are proud to be part of their business.
We are lucky to have represented some of the best musicians this country has ever developed and we continue to do so, but one important thing we have learned over the years is this, "It always starts with the song", and James Reid really does stand out as one of the great New Zealand songwriters, we knew that as soon as we heard Venus.
We've worked with the band for years now, and have watched them move through the various cycles that artists do. Their body of work now is very much part of our cultural identity and as they move to the musical equivalent of golfs Masters tour curcuit we are still there helping in anyway we can.
Ant is one of those high energy people who seems to do everything. Ant is responsible for bringing us the 48-Hour Filmmaking contest encouraging filmmakers to make good films fast 'n' cheap. He curates festivals, he distributes films, and above all he makes movies.
Tim and Ant were co-producers on 'Turbo Kid' which won the Saturn award for best international film of 2015.
NZ's largest and the way things are going probably last surviving music distribution company, Rhythmethod is perhaps the hardest of our clients to spell.
Founded by Peter Baker as a way for him to get vinyl cheap Rhythm as we affectionately call them distribute everyone who is anyone in NZ and Adele.
He hates contracts so we do them for him, when we can get him to and we have had to find ways to work around this from time to time.
An exciting client in a rapidly changing market, Rhythm continue to find new ways to prosper as all around them flail. We just realised they don't even have a website.
Pete is another client who we have worked alongside for a long time now. He is a recording artist, a DJ, a producer, an inventor and a consummate professional. As his career develops more and more we see him working to grow the New zealand industry.
We do a lot of advice work for creatives involved in advertising, such as can they really say this, does this sound too much like that, most of it is quick and dirty. We pride ourselves on a common sense and practical commercial approach. Clients don't want options or possibilities, they want yes or no, and we are skilled enough and experienced enough to be able to give them exactly that, certainty.
We have worked with every type of agency, large and small, and we have worked at both ends, the advice to avoid the problem, and the advice to resolve the problem.
Sometimes we get involved with people who need our particular skill set to execute their creative vision. We are able to navigate the complex world of artist rights and make sense of it to the point where the results for the client can be well beyond their expectations.
We loved working on the Hallenstein Bros campaign, it was a pretty big idea and a challenge but it worked and was a great example of how brands and music can work together if they understand how.
They just keep get younger. These two caught our eye and we have been pleased to be able to help them make sense of the murky mess that is the current state of the NZ recording industry.
New Zealand's premier drama producers Filthy Productions Limited, specialising in long from drama content, use us to provide a full business and legal affairs service.