Sarah Keene is one of the few practitioners in New Zealand who specialise in providing competition, consumer and regulatory law advice across the corporate and litigation spectrum. She advises clients in relation to Commerce Commission investigations, prosecutions and appeals; the legality of behavioural arrangements and conduct; clearances and authorisations of mergers and acquisitions; and generally, in relation to competition law advice, appeals and judicial reviews. Sarah heads Russell McVeagh's highly successful competition law team, which has earned the highest New Zealand ranking from the Global Competition Review, a guide to the world's leading competition law specialists. In 2019 she was voted the Chair of Large Law Firms Group on the New Zealand Law Society council, and she currently serves as Partnership Chair of Russell McVeagh and co-Chair of Russell McVeagh's Diversity Committee.
In 2018, 2016 and 2014, Sarah was rated New Zealand's Competition Lawyer of the Year by the International Law Office Client Choice Awards. She was ranked as a Star Performer by Chambers and Partners Asia Pacific 2020 and 2019 (the only woman in New Zealand to have this ranking) and was featured in the Global Competition Review's '100 Women in Antitrust' in 2016 and 2013. She is recognised by Asialaw as a Distinguished Practitioner, and has been voted for by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers® New Zealand for Competition and Consumer Law since 2014 and was awarded Lawyer of the Year in this category in 2020 and 2017.
Sarah regularly speaks at competition law conferences and contributes to the Legal 500's Cartels Country Comparative Guide, and Thomson Reuters' Merger Control in New Zealand Guide and Practical Law Competition-Restraints of Trade Global Guide.
Sarah's recent successes include acting for Nine Entertainment in engaging with the Commerce Commission in the attempted hostile filing of a clearance application after Nine had terminated negotiations with NZME for the sale of Stuff, and in successfully resisting the subsequent urgent interim injunction filed by NZME for breach of exclusivity in merger negotiations; acting for fruit and vegetable wholesaler T&G Global in obtaining competition clearance for a 3-2 merger with Freshmax; obtaining clearance for Cengage's global merger with McGraw Hill Education (New Zealand was one of the only jurisdictions to get clearance); and obtaining a "no action" termination of a non-notified 2-1 merger between patient safety software businesses, Datix and RL Solutions, which also involved a voluntary divestment to create a new second market player.
She also regularly advises Fonterra on its milk price and capital structure related matters, Auckland International Airport, ANZ and Westpac, including in relation to open banking, Spark, including in relation to spectrum acquisition, and Meridian Energy, including in relation to claims of an undesirable trading situation arising in the wholesale electricity market, and in Meridian's response to the Electricity Authority consultation on the new high standard of trading conduct prohibition (market manipulation and misuse of market power).