Professional practice

Gretta is developing a broad commercial litigation and arbitration practice in line with Chambers’ profile. Throughout her pupillage, she has worked and gained experience in a range of practice areas, including public international law, arbitration, civil fraud, banking, insurance, conflict of laws and shipping.

Gretta has specific expertise in public international law, public and administrative law, and international and domestic human rights litigation. Prior to joining Essex Court, Gretta was Senior Legal and Policy Officer for the UK-based NGO Rights and Security International (formerly Rights Watch UK), where her work focused on the international law and human rights implication of the UK’s national security, military and counter-terrorism policies. In the course of that role, she conceptualized and led on interventions on behalf of the NGO in the European Court of Human Rights, including appearing before the Grand Chamber in Hanan v Germany. Domestically, Gretta assisted and lead the NGO in domestic administrative law and judicial review proceedings, at both the High Court and Supreme Court levels. She was a lead researcher on a significant report published by the NGO as to the repatriation of European nationals detained abroad, who are associated with foreign terrorist groups. She was also involved in extensive advisory work, parliamentary and legal briefings, both domestic and international, representing the NGO at the EU and at OSCE events. Her interest in these areas of law is enduring.

Prior commencing post-graduate studies, Gretta qualified in New Zealand, where she practiced for three years as a junior barrister in commercial and administrative law in one of New Zealand’s leading sets. There, she appeared both led and un-led in a variety of commercial, public, administrative and criminal matters, including appearing as junior counsel in a number of commercial High Court trial, and at various levels of the New Zealand Courts. She also worked as a judges’ clerk to the New Zealand Court of Appeal for two years.

Gretta studied at the University of Auckland, where she graduated second in her cohort and went on to read for the Bachelor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford, where she obtained a distinction and a subject prize.

 

Arbitration & related court applications

During pupillage, Gretta assisted on a range of arbitration cases and related court applications, including commercial and international arbitrations, enforcement matters, anti-suit and anti-arbitration injunction. Examples include:

  • Assisted in drafting and preparing argument in respect of a challenge to the jurisdiction of an LCIA Tribunal and the construction of an arbitration agreement;
  • Assisted in drafting and preparation for a number of ex parte anti-suit injunction hearings in respect of foreign proceedings taken in breach of an arbitration agreement in respect of Nevada, Massachusetts and Texan proceedings and in respect of return date hearings for the same;
  • Assisted a Member of Chambers in respect of an LCIA arbitration relating to disclosure to underwriters;
  • Assisted a Member of Chambers in relation to enforcement of a PCA Award, including the lifting of a 103 stay and the payment of security;
  • Assisted a Member of Chambers in drafting in respect of the question of the arbitrability of company law claims;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in the context of a threatened LCIA arbitration by way of derivative action;
  • Assisted a Member of Chambers in concluding advice as to the prospects of an appeal against an arbitral award under ss 67 and 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996.
  • Assisted a Member of Chambers in the conclusion of Memorials in respect of an ICC arbitration.

In practice in New Zealand, Gretta assisted in drafting the conflict of laws analysis in respect of a product liability claim determined by international arbitration between two multi-national corporations.

Banking & financial services

During pupillage, Gretta worked on a number of cases connected to the banking and financial services sector, including in relation to civil fraud and conspiracy claims as well as contractual disputes.  Examples include:

  • Assisting in drafting analysis as to the proper law of alleged misrepresentation claims in respect of LIBOR fixing;
  • Assisting in pleading a claim of fraud and unlawful means conspiracy against a former employee of a leading bank;
  • Assisting in case management in relation to a complex fraud claim against former directors of a foreign bank;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in relation to fraud claims arising out of mortgage-backed security schemes.
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in relation to jurisdictional challenges to matters arising out of funding agreements between a Russian bank and an oil refinery.
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in respect of advice as to the regulation and investment management in the context of funds under the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities directive, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive and relevant FCA regulatory requirements of the same.
  • Assisting in drafting and attending the return date in respect of an urgent injunction restraining the use of confidential information, following the completion of an internal investigation by a leading financial services institution.

In practice in New Zealand, Gretta acted a junior counsel in the defence of a complex fraud prosecution against former directors of a finance company, in relation to allegations of related-party lending and breaches of a Crown Guarantee. She also acted as sole counsel in a High Court application, defending against summary judgment in the enforcement of contractual guarantees.

Civil fraud & asset recovery

During pupillage, Gretta assisted in a number of civil fraud matters, including at the case management, interim application and trial stages. Examples include:

  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in drafting and in the hearing of a three-week Family Court hearing against the unlawful assistance of a son to his father by participating in actions intended to defeat the interests of creditors;
  • Assisting in drafting a pleading in respect of Dutch tort law claims in the context of fraud committed by an employee against his employer, a Bank, for alleged bribes;
  • Assisted a Member of Chambers in drafting in respect of an application for an order setting aside various rulings in the context of an unlawful means conspiracy claim between a Russian Bank and an oil Refinery, including in relation to jurisdiction, additional claims and expert Russian law evidence.
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in relation to an application to discharge or reduce the quantum of a freezing order in relation to US45 million of assets frozen and a related application for fortification of a cross-undertaking as to damages;
  • Assisting in the preparation for and attendance in respect of a Part 71 Judgment Debtor cross-examination in assessment of assets to satisfy judgment.
Commercial chancery disputes

Gretta has a range of commercial and chancery-related experience. She received the top award for Company Law at the University of Auckland as well as studying equitable remedies. In New Zealand she appeared as junior counsel in a long-running High Court trust dispute, acting for the executors of a trust in response to allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, mismanagement of trust assets and the enforcement of a constructive trust. She appeared as junior counsel in a shareholders’ dispute in respect of the sale of a software company.

During pupillage, examples include:

  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in respect of a strike out application in the context of an claim for unfair prejudice, winding-up proceedings and breach of directors’ duties;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in respect of an appeal in the context of the arbitrability of a winding-up petition and the nature of the Court’s jurisdiction in respect of the same;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in drafting an unfair prejudice and winding-up petition.
Commercial dispute resolution

Gretta has a range of experience involving commercial dispute resolution, both in New Zealand and during pupillage, including tort, contract and unjust enrichment claims.

During pupillage, examples include:

  • Assisting in drafting argument resisting further disclosure in the context of a dispute as to ownership of the proceeds of an Initial Coin Offering in respect of a Cryptocurrency exchange platform between directors;
  • Drafting a Defence to an alleged breach of an exclusive mandate in a Facility Agreement in the context of financing for the acquisition of a Refinery;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in drafting and commencing proceedings as to unfair prejudice in respect of exclusion of a shareholder and director following a merger and acquisition;
  • Assisting in drafting and attending a hearing in respect of strike out proceedings in relation to an unlawful means conspiracy claim against a former director for breaches of fiduciary duty;
  • Assisting in drafting a defence to a claim for debt and for damages in the breach of contract in relation to the dissolution of a joint commercial enterprise, including complex issues of contractual interpretation;
  • Assisting in advising in respect of a telecommunication framework agreement;
  • Assisting in drafting and attending the return date in respect of an urgent injunction restraining the use of confidential information.

In New Zealand, Gretta acted as junior counsel in a case alleging unlawful means conspiracy in an employment context in a case in which she assisted in pleading, interim measures and further disclosure hearings.

Conflict of laws & private international law

Gretta has a particular interest in private international law. She studied conflict of laws at an undergraduate level and worked in New Zealand on questions of choice of law and the limits of mandatory application of public policy law of the forum in the context of both domestic and international arbitral disputes.

She has continued this interest and deepened her understanding of jurisdiction and private international law disputes throughout pupillage. Examples include:

  • Assisting a Member in advice as to proper law analysis of misrepresentation claims in a financial services context;
  • Assisting a Member in an application setting aside various rulings in the context of a widespread civil fraud dispute, including service out and forum conveniens issues;

Assisting a Member in seeking a stay of proceedings in the context of lis alibi pendens and res judicata.

Energy & natural resources

During pupillage, Gretta assisted in relation to a number of disputes in relation to energy and natural resources, including:

  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in advising as to a contractual dispute in relation to the funding and purchase of a gold mine;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in relation to a contractual dispute relating to the shipping of oil, including the recovery of liquidated damages, termination for repudiatory breach and the provision and enforcement of payment terms on a letter of credit;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in relation to insurance claims arising in respect of African mining permits;
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in relation to financing in respect of the purchase of an oil refinery;
  • Assisting a Member in respect of commercial conspiracy claims arising from alleged double-selling of oil transshipments.

At Oxford, Gretta studied International Law of the Sea and International and Comparative Environmental law. In the context of the former, she had particular exposure to the burgeoning regulatory framework concerning State contractors undertaking deep sea oil and mineral drilling, as well as the law relating to off-shore installations. In the latter, she studied the EU ETS Framework, and related regulatory measures in the UK and abroad.

European law & competition

In the course of her post-graduate studies, Gretta has been exposed to a number of areas of law that touch on European regulations. She is well-versed in European constitutional law and has studied European regulations relating to air quality, water and counter-terrorism measures, including terrorist financing.

Human rights & civil liberties

Gretta has a particular interest in human rights litigation. She has experience in both advisory, strategic and litigious steps relating to human rights and civil liberties, both domestic and international. She has advised in respect of domestic judicial review actions at the High Court and Supreme Court level pertaining to human rights claims in her work at Rights and Security International, as well as advising on foreign constitutional actions and claims to international courts and judicial bodies of the United Nations, including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. At Rights Watch UK, she assisted and worked with counsel to conclude that organisations third party intervention in the Grand Chamber hearing of Hanan v Germany at the ECHR, where she attended as representative, and similarly concluded a written intervention in respect of HF and MF v France, which has since been relinquished to the Grand Chamber.

At Oxford, Gretta received the award for the Highest Achieving Student in Criminal Justice, National Security and Human Rights, comprising questions of the extra-territoriality of human rights obligations, as well as human rights in the context of police use of force, extrajudicial killing and drone strikes.

Insurance & reinsurance

During pupillage, Gretta worked on a number of insurance and reinsurance claims, including:

  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in an LCIA arbitration concerning questions of material nondisclosure to underwriters; and
  • Assisting a Member of Chambers in concluding advice in relation to liability under an Excess of Loss Liability Policy on the Bermuda Form.
International trade, transport & commodities

During pupillage, Gretta assisted a Member of Chambers in conclusion of advice in relation to contractual breaches for the non-delivery of oil shipments and possible recovery under a letter of credit. She also assisted in pleading and preparation for a CMC in respect of a case concerning a contract for transport of goods, arguably subject to the implied terms of the Carriage of Goods by Road Act 1965, and the limitations of liability therein.

Media, art, entertainment

During pupillage, Gretta assisted in Part 71 proceedings against a judgment debtor, arising out of a proceeding by  an auction house against a vendor of a painting sold pursuant to a contract which was rescinded, upon the discovery of the painting as a forgery.

Public & administrative law

Gretta has experience in public and administrative law, having studied both public and administrative law at an undergraduate level and completing her honours course in Public Law. In practice in New Zealand, she acted as junior counsel on a number of judicial review matters. Prior to joining Essex Court, Gretta led on domestic judicial review actions taken by the Rights Watch UK and advised in respect of a number of other contemplated actions.

Gretta also has exposure to FOIA and IPCC processes, having assisted and advised in the compilation of such requests and challenges in her role with Rights Watch UK. She also worked on and assisted in relation to appeals against measures depriving individuals of citizenship and she has an enduring interest and experience in this area.

Public international law

Gretta has a particular interest and expertise in Public International Law. In New Zealand, Gretta received prizes for the Top Student in International Law and in Advanced International Law. She completed her honours thesis in International Humanitarian Law (specifically on the scope and limits of detention in non-international armed conflicts).

At Oxford, she furthered her academic exposure to international law, with a focus on international law courses including International Law of the Sea, International Law and Armed Conflict, and International and Comparative Environmental Law. She was top student in Criminal Justice, National Security and Human Rights, which featured a significant component of international law and has a particular interest in the litigation and treatment of questions of international law and state immunity in domestic courts.

Gretta put this expertise into action in her role with Rights Watch UK, where she was Senior Legal and Policy Officer prior to commencing pupillage. There, she was exposed to a number of areas of international law, including matters relating to the international law of statelessness, the law of diplomatic and consular protection, and a specific focus on the scope and limits of extra-territorial application of human rights treaties and the question of functional jurisdiction. She is well-versed in the jurisprudence of the ECHR, the UNCHR and academic writings pertaining to these issues. In the course of her role at Rights Watch UK, Gretta was lead researcher in respect of an ongoing report into the arbitrary detention of European nationals in camps in North-East Syria, and lead research in respect of all components of that report “Europe’s Guantanamo”.

Finally, Gretta represented New Zealand in the Philip C Jessup Public International Law Moot, where she was ranked 14th best speaker in the world. She returned three years later as coach to the New Zealand team, which won the prize for best overall Applicant team.

Regulatory law & investigations

In practice in New Zealand, Gretta acted as junior counsel in respect of regulatory matters, including at the investigation or pre-prosecution stages, both in relation to Education Act regulatory matters and Serious Fraud Office regulatory prosecutions.

Shipping & admiralty

During Pupillage, Gretta was exposed to various shipping and admiralty law matters. Examples include:

  • Drafting a defence in respect of a Marine Insurance Act 1906 claim; and
  • Assisting a Member in respect of advice on a challenge to the admiralty jurisdiction in respect of the arrest of a ship.
Unjust enrichment & restitution claims

During pupillage, Gretta assisted in drafting a claim for unlawful means conspiracy including claims for restitution in Dutch law.

Career

2021 – Tenant, Essex Court Chambers

2021 – Called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn)

2020-2021 – Pupillage, Essex Court Chambers (with James Willan QC)

2019-2020 – Senior Legal and Policy Officer, Rights and Security International (Rights Watch UK).

2016-2018 – Junior Barrister to Shortland Chambers, New Zealand

2015 – Called to the Bar, New Zealand.

2014-2015 – Judges’ Clerk to the Court of Appeal of New Zealand

Education

2018-2019 – University of Oxford, BCL (DIst)

2009-2014 – University of Auckland, BA/LLB (Hons) (BA: German and Philosophy)

Awards

University of Oxford:

  • Faculty of Law Prize for Top Student in Criminal Justice, National Security and Human Rights
  • Yvonne Smith Fellowship Recipient 2018

University of Auckland:

  • Senior Scholar Award, Arts;
  • Senior Scholar Award, Law;
  • F A De La Mare Memorial Prize ( best academic record in third, fourth and fifth year LLB cohort);
  • First in Course Award – Advanced International Law;
  • JP Campbell Bursary Prize (best student achievement in any two final year papers in LLB cohort);
  • Faculty of Law Dean’s Academic Excellence Award;
  • First in Course Award – Company Law;
  • First in Course Award – International Law;
  • Desmond Lewis Memorial Prize in International Law
  • Senior Prize in German.
Publications
  • Just Security, “The Shamima Begum Decision: What Could It Mean for Other ISIS Women and Children Unable to Repatriate?”, 3 August 2020.
  • Contributing author, Hon Justice Mathew Downs (ed) Cross on Evidence (10th ed, 2017, LexisNexis, Wellington).
  • Jenny Cooper QC and Gretta Schumacher “Gender Ratio of Counsel Appearing in Higher Courts” (September 2018), New Zealand Bar Association and New Zealand Law Foundation funded research project.
  • New Zealand Journal of Taxation Law and Policy “Taxing or Relaxing: the Deductibility of Expenditure on Holiday Homes, Boats and Aircraft” (2016), 22 (vol 1) NZJTLP 47.