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Sir Owen Woodhouse dies

One of New Zealand's greatest jurists, Sir Owen Woodhouse, has died.

Sir Owen was aged 97. He was best known as the architect of New Zealand's world-leading no fault accident compensation system, but he was equally renowned among the legal profession for his reforming and progressive approach to the development of New Zealand jurisprudence.

Born in Napier, Sir Owen was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court (now High Court) at the age of 44 in 1961. He was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1973 and attained New Zealand's highest judicial office in 1981 when he was appointed President of the Court of Appeal. He retired from the bench in 1981.

Chief Justice Sian Elias says judges in New Zealand are saddened to hear of the death of Sir Owen.

"He was an outstanding jurist with a passion for social justice. He was a reformer and a great New Zealander," Dame Sian says.

Prime Minister John Key says Sir Owen was a man whose life exemplified public service and duty to his country.

"He was best known for chairing the Royal Commission on Accident Compensation, authoring the Woodhouse Report which recommended a no fault accident compensation scheme for New Zealand," Mr Key says.

"He leaves a genuinely important legacy." 

An obituary for Sir Owen is available here

Last updated on the 16th April 2014