Ralph Simpson
Director, migration and counter-trafficking

Ralph Simpson is a consultant to the counter-trafficking, anti-corruption and criminal justice sectors, working with governments, UN agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs).

For 30 years, Ralph practiced as a commercial litigation barrister and solicitor in New Zealand. He was a litigation partner in Bell Gully, one of New Zealand’s leading commercial law firms, from 1992 to 2014, serving on the firm’s management board, as head of the litigation department, and as chairman of the pro bono committee.

From 2007 to 2014, Chambers Global, Legal 500 Asia Pacific and PLC Which Lawyer recognized Ralph as one of New Zealand’s leading litigators. Ralph specialized in commercial, corporate and securities litigation, establishing a track record of handling large-scale, complex litigation. He has a reputation for grappling with difficult issues and providing practical solutions to clients within a short timeframe. He regularly appeared as counsel on major commercial matters in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

In 2015, Ralph became the first country director for Nvader, a New Zealand NGO based in Thailand. Nvader partners with Thai law enforcement agencies to investigate, prosecute and convict offenders engaging in human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. The organization also provides social welfare and legal assistance to victims.

Ralph assumed responsibility for establishing the office, building the team, developing and implementing strategies and policies, and establishing links with government and NGO partners. The strong collaborative relationships that Ralph developed with key Thai law enforcement and victim support agencies contributed to the investigation, arrest and prosecution of a significant number of traffickers and child sex offenders.

Nvader’s legal team successfully sued for compensation on behalf of victims, while Ralph guided Nvader’s operational teams to improve law enforcement treatment of victims during intervention operations, and monitor the welfare of survivors of trafficking and child sexual exploitation while under state care. He also developed a code of conduct for foreign NGOs investigating human trafficking and child sexual exploitation and participating in victim rescues.

Ralph has provided training on litigation skills, criminal law and procedure on human trafficking and related offences in Thailand, strategic planning development and implementation, team building and management, as well as a host of legal topics and practices. He has also contributed to a national curriculum to strengthen the criminal justice response to people trafficking and smuggling in Sudan and developed an advanced litigation skills training curriculum.

Ralph’s legal career, first-hand investigative work, training experience and engagement in law reform provide him with a uniquely informed perspective on the shortcomings of many criminal justice responses to trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

From 2008 to 2013, Ralph was a government appointee to New Zealand’s External Reporting Board, a Crown entity responsible for developing and issuing accounting and auditing and assurance standards in New Zealand. In 2014, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Zealand Law Awards. Ralph holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland.