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Dog bite hero not tempted by dog collar

04 July 2019 - By Jock Anderson

Not tempted to take up the clerical garb of his father and uncle, Auckland barrister Jeremy Sutton looked to teaching and tennis coaching before opting to become a lawyer.

Jeremy’s father Tony, who died in May aged 92, had a law degree and practised briefly before he went into the ministry, was an Anglican minister whose last parish was Helensville. His mother Clare is a retired school teacher.

His uncle and godfather, the late Peter Sutton, was a former Bishop of Nelson.

Name Jeremy Arnold (Jeremy) Sutton
Born Wellington
Age 52
Entry to law Graduated BCA from Victoria University and LLB from Auckland University in 1991.
Workplace Barrister sole, Bastion Chambers, Auckland.
Specialist area Family law.

Sister Camilla works for Trustpower and brother Roger Sutton, the former head of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, is the Anglican Missioner in Christchurch.

Married to Victoria Farry, who works for the Red Cross with former refugees, the couple have three children - Noah (11), Isla (9) and Jude (6).

“There is a strong church association in our family. But I was not tempted myself to take the cloth.”

Jeremy Sutton

Jeremy specialises in divorce cases where there are significant assets including family trusts, complex business structures and multi property ownership.

“I was tempted to be a teacher. I applied to teachers college when I left university and also wanted to be a tennis coach.

“I did a course through the ASB tennis centre. I was teaching kids tennis at Gladstone tennis club when I was at university and enjoyed it.

“When I was at school I was runner-up in the secondary school singles champs. We also had a tennis court when I was a child in Gisborne. I prefer playing on grass because it is nicer on the feet and there’s no glare.”

A cricket fan, Jeremy also coaches son Jude’s six-year-olds Grafton club team. And he plays darts with a group of fathers from the school who get together on the last Thursday of the month for a drink.

“I love football and went to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, in South Africa for three weeks and Brazil for four weeks with some other guys I went to university with in Wellington. That was a massive highlight for me.”

Goalkeeper for the Victoria University first eleven, he has also run the London and Stockholm marathons. “I like to keep a bit fit.”

A positive Start

“I’m a trustee of an organisation called Start, which helps people with a stutter. I had a stutter from a young age.

“I have been on that board for 18 months and enjoy it. Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft is also involved in Start.

“It is usually one-on-one treatment with people of all age groups, but is mainly for children and youths more than anyone else. I saw it as a worthy cause. Most of the rest of my time is either working, at home looking after the kids or watching or playing sport.

“I used to be a youth advocate and am still a lawyer for child so I take an interest in trying to refer people for treatment or have some patience with them. Our daughter also had a stutter, so we referred her to Start.

“It’s not that well known that there are these specialist organisations. People tend to go to speech therapy and Start is a specialist form of that.

“I thought law was interesting more than anything else, that it showed two sides to an argument.

“It’s really about trying to make a little bit of a difference and having people heard. A lawyer was a very powerful voice that you could have.

“It gave me lots of options and it was interesting to read about cases and not know what the answers were. There were certain aspects of law that interested me and I wanted to get involved in. That excited me.

“It wasn’t just a case of me being there by accident. I was doing economics as well and law was a lot more fascinating. When I did get into it I enjoyed the fact that there were lots of people doing the same thing.

“It was quite community-based in some respects being a lawyer. There were other people who were there to support you and touch base with you if you needed it. I think that’s quite important.”

Communicating by slang

In his late 20s Jeremy spent about five years overseas, mainly in York and London, and six months in Grenada, in Spain, learning Spanish.

“I got roped into playing for the Grenada University first 15 rugby team. I was hopeless. I had never played rugby before in my life.

“But they thought I come from New Zealand, they all had Canterbury Crusaders shirts on and they said I must know what I was doing.

“I lived off tapas and cheap red wine. It’s difficult when you play rugby in a team where there’s no common communication skills. You have to get by on a bit of slang.

“That was my fondest memory of being overseas. In a place that is quite beautiful, hot and full of locals. Not like going to a European destination like London where there are lots of other Kiwis around.”

Jeremy worked in commercial contracts for Bristol law firm Veale Wasbrough Vizards, the Nottingham City Council and in London in-house for a startup company.

“I had family in England on my mother’s side so there always a meal going and an opportunity to go to an event. Work opportunities in England are not as good as they are here. It’s so huge and to become a barrister there you have to go through a lot more hoops than here.

“I don’t play any musical instruments and have no favourite songs or bands except the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger – he’s an absolute character in his 70s. And Stevie Wonder.

“For reading I’ll pick up the odd novel that doesn’t require a lot of thought: crime or comedy.

“We go to the odd movie but mainly use Netflix because it is convenient. I like light comedy, because there’s enough serious stuff happening during the day. If there’s one or two new separations going on you don’t really want to get too involved with your mind at night.”

Dog bite law

Jeremy has no pets but because of a number of particular cases he took on, police dog bites became his “pet area”, including one that he won in the District Court but was not considered to have an arguable issue on appeal in the Supreme Court.

“I had an interest in suing the police for police dog bites on innocent members of the public. I had many cases of innocent people who were bitten by police dogs come to me.

“Some of the strong cases settled with the police but the weak ones went through to a fixture. I would claim compensation for the police action, including pepper spray, unlawful detention, etc.

“It was a fun time because I was doing some sort of novel work. No one really took on police dog bites. People didn’t think it was possible to challenge what the police were doing, but it is a particularly serious matter to have police dogs biting the wrong types.

“Before I got into relationship property work my practice involved compensation claims.”

One client in 2018 - Tyson Redman – got $550,000 after being wrongfully imprisoned for two and a half years. “I have always had that interest in the social justice area under the Bill of Rights Act.”

Mr Redman, then 17 and part of an Auckland school gang, was convicted of wounding and injuring in a brawl at a 21st birthday party in 2007. His conviction was only quashed in 2013 when eight people came forward stating he was not involved in the assault.

“My car is a VW TSI. Not a flash car.

“My dinner guests would include Nelson Mandela, Mohamed Salah, No 11 for Liverpool, Sadio Mane, No 10 for Liverpool, Serena Williams and Jacinda Ardern. We would have sea food, fresh fruit, and Central Otago pinot.

“We have a beach house at Waikanae beach, for as long as I have been alive. And I also like going to Onetangi Beach at Waiheke Island, where there is clean water for swimming.

“I would like to go into teaching, if I wasn’t lawyering. Teaching five and six year olds. I take a group of six-year-old boys and girls, a dozen of them, for football skills after school and they are just fantastic. They have so much fun.”

Last updated on the 4th July 2019