Claudia Leighs completed her LLB at the University of Canterbury in June 2016 and was admitted to the bar in December 2016. Prior to joining Shine Lawyers, Claudia worked in the Trust and Estates team at a large Christchurch law firm. Claudia is now a Senior Solicitor in our Christchurch team, specialising in plaintiff insurance litigation, particularly earthquake work. She is empathetic, efficient and strategic, and strives to help clients achieve their best possible result.
Over the last five years Claudia has been actively involved in litigation in the Christchurch High Court Earthquake list and has represented clients at mediations, judicial settlement conferences and hearings.
Claudia was a key member of Shine Lawyer’s representative action against EQC for its negligence in the handling of its managed repair scheme following the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence of 2010 and 2011. In what was widely known as the ‘botched repairs test case’, Claudia was the contact person for all 55 homeowners and helped achieve a landmark result that led to a change in government policy. Claudia worked alongside a QC to draft briefs of evidence and submissions. She was also involved with all negotiations to resolve the matter.
Whilst working on this test case, Claudia honed her exceptional strategic and communication skills. As well as dealing with the homeowners who signed up to the representative action, she also informed hundreds of other clients of their options at an initial free consultation. Claudia was also a liaison for media and interest groups.
One of the most remarkable matters in her legal career is one in which Claudia worked pro bono. The Earthquake Commission had wrongly accused an elderly client of fraud. Click here to read the article to which she was a contributor.
In addition to earthquake litigation, Claudia has experience in general civil litigation including:
- general insurance, including motor vehicle and income protection
- historic sexual abuse claims
“I am passionate about representing the little guy and have a strong connection with Cantabrians. I have acted for hundreds of clients affected by the earthquakes, as there was a real need for this service following the earthquakes. I have gained invaluable skills in dealing with aggrieved clients who have been battling with their insurance companies or other corporations.
“I have lived in Christchurch my whole life so I can truly empathise with my clients and understand what they are going through.”