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Brian Henry Bull MBE, 1929 - 2012

By Geoff Adlam

Brian Bull died on 24 January 2012 in Gisborne, aged 82 years. As a partner in Gisborne law firm Burnard Bull & Co for 55 years, Mr Bull was well known for his contribution to the community, particularly in the field of education.

Brian Bull was one of three children born to Noel and Sheila Bull. His father was also a lawyer and was mayor of Gisborne from 1941 until 1950. After completing secondary school Brian attended Victoria University College, where he graduated LLB in 1952.

After he was admitted to the bar, Mr Bull joined his late father's firm, Burnard and Bull (now Burnard Bull & Co) in 1954. He remained at the firm as partner for 55 years until his retirement from the partnership in 2009.

At Burnard Bull & Co Mr Bull specialised in the administration of trusts and estates, civil litigation, family law and commercial transactions. Partner David Sharp said Brian Bull was a highly gifted lawyer with particular skills in relation to civil litigation and in respect of matters connected with rural land sales and arrangements in respect of trusts.

"A former Gisborne practitioner with a strong academic history, Mr Keith Burton, formerly a partner at Nolan and Skeat, remarked that the most closely reasoned legal argument he had ever heard presented was by Mr Bull," he said.

"His knowledge of the rules of the former Supreme Court and the procedural aspects of contested civil matters made him an exceptional advocate. He had a very detailed knowledge of the law and was able to present legal arguments in a very clear and compelling manner."

Brian Bull was a member of the Averill Advertising Committee of the New Zealand Law Society in 1984 when the committee recommended that lawyers should be able to undertake limited forms of advertising in printed media. He was President of the Gisborne District Law Society in 1965 and 1966.

Mr Bull was awarded the MBE in 1983 for services to education and the community. In the educational field he was chairman of the High Schools Board of Governors in the 1960s and 1970s, and represented Poverty Bay on the Hawke's Bay Education Board for several years. He was also chairman of the establishment board of the Tairawhiti Polytechnic.

An enthusiastic golfer, Mr Bull was a long-standing member of the Poverty Bay Golf Club. He won many trophies at the club and also greatly enjoyed playing tennis.

Mr Bull and his wife Helen had six children: Penelope, Prue, Michael, Stephen, Hilary and Crispin. Prue and Stephen also became lawyers, Prue's admission in 1979 being the first third generation admission to the bar in Gisborne.

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society.

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Last updated on the 26th July 2018