Jane is a leading legal adviser. She has an extensive range of advisory experience in both the public sector and the corporate world.


She works, often in association with in-house legal teams and lawyers in private practice, for a wide range of public and private sector entities to deliver sound, pragmatic and strategic legal advice. Jane complements her advisory practice with a number of significant public sector governance roles, bringing to these her experience gained from a highly successful career as a private and public sector legal adviser.

A significant part of Jane’s public sector practice has recently centred on inquiries and reviews, under the Inquiries Act, the Public Audit Act, the State Sector Act and the Protected Disclosures Act. Jane is currently Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry (Covid 19 Lessons) having been appointed to the role by the Solicitor-General. Previously she was Counsel Assisting the Public Inquiry into EQC led by Dame Silvia Cartwright, which reported at the end of March 2020. She was a member of the panel that conducted an independent review of the regulation of lawyers and legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand; that review report was provided to the Law Society in March 2023. Jane has undertaken a number of independent inquiries and reviews for public sector entities including assisting an inquiry under the State Sector Act, assisting the Auditor-General in relation to her inquiry into the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership, and co-conducting the independent investigation for MBIE into the Pike River Tragedy. Other investigations undertaken for public sector clients have ranged from procurement reviews and allegations of improper conflicts of interest, to “whistleblower” disclosures and complaints about processes.

Jane provides advice on the process of development of legislation, both in New Zealand and overseas, and on complex matters of statutory interpretation, particularly in relation to the application of public sector statutes. She has recently been involved with the design, drafting and negotiation of a number of complex commercial transactions both for the public and private sector. She is known for her collaborative style and her ability to give strategic, yet pragmatic, legal advice in relation to complex matters.

Jane has a number of significant governance roles. She is:

This diverse experience enables her to give strategic governance advice when required, and to understand the challenges facing boards in their roles.

Jane has been a mentor for women in sports governance and a mentor for young lawyers through Wellington Women’s Lawyers Association. Outside of the law, Jane is chair of the Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation.

Prior to establishing her advisory practice as a founding member of Clifton Chambers, Jane was the chief legal adviser at the New Zealand Treasury – the Treasury Solicitor – and before that was a corporate and commercial partner at the leading New Zealand law firm, Bell Gully.

During her time at the Treasury, Jane was responsible for legal oversight of the Treasury’s wide range of responsibilities and was required to advise on the implications of Treasury’s legislation, including the Public Finance Act, the State-Owned Enterprises Act, the reporting and financial obligations provisions of the Crown Entities Act and the Overseas Investment Act. She developed and, with other members of the Treasury’s legal team, delivered a whole-of-government education programme on the Public Finance Act, and implemented compliance, conflict of interest and legal risk management programmes across Treasury. Her general public sector experience has given her a sound understanding of core public sector processes and structures, the framework within which it operates and key statutes such as the Official Information Act and the State Sector Act.

From her experience as a partner at Bell Gully, and before that as a lawyer at the London law firm, Slaughter and May, Jane was thus able to bring her private sector commercial experience to bear in transactions such as the establishment and administration of the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (including advising on processes for finance company failures). Her responsibilities included providing assistance to the NZDMO in relation to the government’s borrowings and debt security offerings both in New Zealand and overseas, to the Export Credit Office and to ministers in relation to the Overseas Investment regime.

Whilst a commercial partner at Bell Gully, she was responsible for a wide variety of commercial transactions including acquisitions, dispositions, privatisations (mainly acting for the Crown), mergers, restructurings and general corporate and contractual matters.

She also drafted and implemented a firm-wide risk management plan for Bell Gully, spent some time assisting the Takeovers Panel to set up systems and procedures prior to the introduction of the new Takeovers Code in 2001 and was the Manager, Legal Group at the Department of Internal Affairs.

Jane is admitted in New Zealand and England & Wales.

Given her past experience and current expertise, she is well placed to advise a wide range of clients on sensitive, and significant, projects in the public and private sector.


Degrees: LLB Hons (Law with French)
Admission to High Court: 1986 (England and Wales), 1990 (New Zealand)


Level 1 Solnet House
70 The Terrace
Wellington 6011

Email: jane.meares@cliftonchambers.co.nz
Phone: +64 4 974 5952
Mobile: +64 21 662 532
Website | LinkedIn

Areas of practice

Commercial, Corporate, Governance, Investigations, Public law 

Languages spoken

English, French