John has over 30 years’ experience in commercial litigation, employment law, property law/lease disputes, education law and insurance law, working on a wide range of disputes and claims.


John is a trained Mediator and also has experience in arbitration and tribunal adjudication.


He conducts employment investigations. He represents employees and employers in the investigation process.


John is a qualified Company Director, with an Institute of Directors (IoD) Certificate in Company Direction. John has assisted in the resolution of many difficult issues at governance, chair and CEO level.


John has particular interest and experience in the education sector. He was Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Teaching Council Disciplinary Tribunal from 2011 to 2020. He was a Council member of the Manukau Institute of Technology from 2010 to 2020.


He also has a particular interest in academic freedom and freedom of speech in universities. He has acted for university academics on a number of difficult issues. He was a Senior Lecturer in the Law Faculty, University of Auckland from 1978 to 1988.


John is based at Bankside Chambers in Auckland.

John’s previous experience includes:

Case highlights

Litigation relating to Glasgow leases. Major litigation through High Court to the Court of Appeal on application and interpretation of perpetually renewable ground rent leases, in particular repair obligations, valuation principles, and what must be paid if the lessee remains in possession after the 21 year term has run but the valuation process has not yet been completed or the lease renewed. Cornwall Park Trust Board Inc v Chen [2014] NZHC 2465 and in Court of Appeal [2016] 2 NZLR 637.
Leading case in Court of Appeal on union access to workplaces during collective employment agreement negotiations, time off for union meetings, reasonableness of time of union access, and payment of workers during on-site union meetings. Litigation through Employment Tribunal, Employment Court and to Court of Appeal; Foodstuffs (Auckland) Ltd v National Distribution Union [1995] 2 NZLR 280.
Leading case on interpretation of the Holidays Act in relation to rates of pay for public holidays, in particular whether employers could set a special rate for payment for public holidays. 2 hearings in the Employment Court and and successful defence of appeal to Court of Appeal; Ports of Auckland Ltd v New Zealand Waterfront Workers Union [1996] 3 NZLR 268.
Representation in Christchurch Earthquakes Royal Commission of Enquiry. Extensive appearances through the Royal Commission on issues relating to building design and inspection, including CTV building collapse. Issues of responsibilities of engineers who did not design a building but later carry out assessments of buildings for prospective purchasers who ultimately do not purchase.

Successful defence of Royal Society of New Zealand Complaint proceedings against “Listener Letter” professors. My clients, Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand, had in 2021 co-authored a letter to The Listener, “In defence of science”, criticising proposed changes to theNew Zealand school science curriculum to reflect Mātaraunga Māori.


Complaints were made that the letter infringed the Society’s Code of Professional Standards and Ethics. I successfully defended these complaints. Important issues of academic freedom of speech and inquiry were at stake.

“When you need legal advice and representation, what you really need is experience, cool distance and the secure assurance you’re following the rational path. John Hannan is a model of these resources. I retained John through a stressful situation. A major component of my stress vector that his qualities pushed down to zero was: am I taking my advice from the right place? If that’s the confidence you’re looking for, John is your man.”

– Professor Don Ross, Centre for Economic Analysis of Risk, Georgia State University, Atlanta USA