New Zealand Law Society - Session topics

Session topics

Keynote:  Peter Ellis: The creche case & me

Melanie Reid (Newsroom’s Investigations Editor)

An intense look inside one of NZ’s most controversial legal cases, including the evolution and delusion of satanic panic, Reid’s secret, and exclusive interviews during the 1993 trial, and the vicious circle of false reassurance. A miscarriage of justice that took 30 years to put right.

Thank you to our keynote sponsor: 

Session 1: Settlement Agreements in Litigation Disputes: The must know issues

Anthony Hughes-Johnson KC (Barrister)

In this session, Mr Hughes-Johnson KC examines several aspects of settlement agreements in litigation disputes which practitioners need to be aware of. He discusses the essential contractual elements of a valid compromise agreement, looks at elements which might lead to the impeachment of a compromise, the difficult issue of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, the need, in some circumstances, to consider persons who are not parties to a settlement agreement and how to deal with those persons, the issue of how to protect a party who is to benefit from future performance in an agreement which is subject to future performance, and lastly the need to understand the taxation implications of payments made in to settlement agreements and make provision for them. The paper deals with a wide range of settlement agreements which have a litigation foundation, and it is expected that it will assist litigators to direct their minds to the necessities for concluding a lawful and effective settlement agreement in litigation matters, when settled. 

Session 2: Smarter Sleep

Dr Sarah Ferguson (Breathe Repeat)

It’s supposed to happen for one third of our day, every day, but a casual chat with friends or colleagues tells us that our sleep is often much less than that. A unique combination of work pressures and all-hours connectivity affects this generations' sleep like no other. People either struggle to fall asleep or wake up mid-cycle. Furthermore, no aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation. It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. Learn more about how we sleep, why we need it, and what you need to sleep deeply and well. 

Session 3: Utilities disputes: Outages, slow new connections, leaks, bill shock, solar. Flickering lights can lead to full-blown fights.

Mary Ollivier (Commissioner for Utilities Disputes)

Utilities companies provide essential services to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand. But what happens when something goes wrong? Is there a free service?

This session will cover:

  • how to advise clients about unresolved disputes and possible outcomes
  • the role of the Consumer Guarantees Act
  • water disputes after three waters reforms
  • best practice dispute resolution in the energy sector and how data helps
  • and more…

Session 4: Update on Criminal Law

Mike Brownlie & Sarah Saunderson-Warner 

Mike and Sarah will discuss two topical issues for criminal lawyers from both Crown and Defence perspectives. Mike will focus on recent Supreme Court decisions about sentencing issues and the impact of these on the sentencing process. Sarah will focus on disclosure with reference to the 2023 Practice Note and how this may also apply to District Court trials.

Session 5: Successfully navigating complaints: strategies, tips and suggestions for surviving complaints

Tony Sycamore (Van Aart Sycamore Lawyers)

Tony is extremely interested in dealing with ethics questions and complaints in a manner which provides an opportunity for parties to move forward restoratively and find a resolution without the need to resort to formal processes and has spent a lot of time working at better understanding how to intervene early on with client disputes and issues so as to avoid prolonged and distracting processes, which can be daunting and debilitating for practitioners.

Session 6: Employment law: Getting the problem sorted (and ensuring it stays sorted)

Geoff Bevan (Gallaway Cook Allan)

While we all like a good court case, employment lawyers do their best work when they help resolve matters quickly and quietly. This will be a practical / interactive session, focusing on:

  • Off the record / without prejudice discussions – how and when (and how and when not) to use them.
  • Ensuring settlement agreements are fair and survive scrutiny from the Courts.
  • Covering the key terms in your settlement agreements and avoiding common mistakes.

This session is designed for both specialist and occasional employment lawyers.

Session 7: The gap between separation and division – interim distribution and maintenance

Kim Jarvis (Webb Farry Lawyers) & Dale Lloyd (Lloyd Troon Law)

Relationship Property is not usually divided until a final settlement has been reached. However, there is often a significant gap between those two events. Interim distribution is when property may be distributed prior to final settlement. The Court has wide discretionary powers to make interim distribution. This session explores some of the factors that the Court takes into consideration, along with some of the arguments to be considered when making, or opposing, an application for interim distribution.

Session 8: Part 1 - Recent and upcoming changes to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act – what you need to be aware of and how you can help.

Richard Little (Eagles Eagles & Redpath)

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 permits significant impositions in the basic rights of everyday people. To ensure these rights are not curbed unnecessarily, changes are being

made to the law which will result in increased legal representative involvement. Capacity will form a large part of these changes and given the increase in mental health awareness over recent years; this is an area which is becoming more inclusive for practitioners to become involved in. The clients involved are less likely to be limited to those detained in Hospital and the upcoming changes will address many people in the community.

Part 2: Capacity law and practice: how to become a court-appointed lawyer for the “subject person”

Alison Douglass (Barrister)

There is increasing demand for lawyers to have knowledge and experience of representing clients who may have impaired capacity for decision-making – whether due to dementia, learning or intellectual disability, mental illness, or brain injury. This session introduces the role of the lawyer for the “subject person” under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act (PPPR Act) and how to become a court-appointed lawyer in the Family Court.

Session 9: Are you and your business the next IT scam victim or headline?

Dave Bennie (Focus Technology Group)

This session will discuss why everyone is a valuable target for Cyber Crime and IT scams - not just the wealthy, well connected, public figures, or those that look after highly valuable information. Your identity can be used as part of greater attacks on your family or people you have been in contact with. The content of this session will encourage thinking about how an individual’s IT profile works. This session is for anyone who wants to better protect their family, business, profession, and community against cyber criminals and will include questions and answers. 

Session 10: Forensic Science and the Obama Report

Len Andersen KC (Barrister)

While there has been an appreciation that evidence such as face mapping is circumstantial evidence of identity rather than direct evidence of identity, interesting issues have arisen with regard to admissibility of novel scientific evidence by the application of the American test of Frye modified in the case of Daubert.  The application of the tests by Tipping J in R v Calder (the poisoned professor case) have been extended in Lundy v R [2014] NZCA 576 where the issue was whether a particular substance was brain tissue.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) September 2016 report to the President, Forensic Science in Criminal Courts Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods highlighted that even evidence such as fingerprints involve a degree of subjectivity and interpretation such that experts can disagree. This has important implications for practitioners and identifies the necessity of being prepared to challenge forensic evidence where it is contrary to a client's instructions.

Session 11: Mihi/Pepeha Te Reo Māori

Keri Kereru (KMK Law)

This session is for those who would like to learn a basic mihi (greeting) or open a meeting and introduce yourself with your pepeha (who you are and where you are from). Don’t be shy come along.

Session 12: Updates on recent GST changes of interest to lawyers

Craig Macalister (FINDEX)

GST update on recent GST changes of interest to lawyers. This will include GST changes in the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2022-23, Platform Economy, and Remedial Matters) Bill (No 2), which includes the GST

treatment people that provide their skills, assets, and labour through digital platforms, otherwise known as the sharing or gig economy. This will also include a discussion around on-going concern changes including zero-rating and the GST treatment of farmhouses.

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