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Geoffrey John Fuller, 1933 - 2009

by Lance Pratley

Until his retirement in 1994, Geoff Fuller spent some 25 years of his career as manager of National Mutual Life Nominees. That company was one of the largest corporate trustees in New Zealand, and specialised in the administration of debenture trust deeds.

At a time when he had been thinking his workload might ease, the 1987 share market caused it to become extremely lively. He rose to the challenge and worked very hard to resolve a number of critical situations. He was later to give evidence of fact in significant civil and criminal cases following some of this country’s largest corporate collapses, and was retained as an expert witness in a case involving another corporate trustee.

Soon after retirement, Geoff began writing the first of a number of books, completing The Law and Practice of Debenture Trust Deeds in New Zealand during 1996. He later became author of several Laws of New Zealand titles: Mortgages (1999); Shares and Securities (2000 and Reissue 1); Trusts (2003 and Reissue 1); and Shares and Securities: Securities Markets and Contributory Mortgages (2007).

In 2008, he authored Handy Guide to New Zealand Law, an introduction to New Zealand law, a soft-covered book aimed at the general public, which he felt would encourage people to use the law constructively, rather than see it as an adversary.

Since 2002 Geoff was a course marker and consultant for the Open Polytechnic’s Estates Law and Practicecourse. He served for several years on the Legislation Committee of the New Zealand Law Society as well as on the Library Committee of the Wellington District Law Society.

Geoff graduated with a LLB and MA(Hons) in English from Auckland University College in the 1950s. He began his legal career in the Public Trust Office initially in Hamilton, then Wanganui and Lower Hutt, before joining the National Mutual Group of Companies (now AXA) as in-house solicitor.

My association with Geoff began when meeting him at Trustee Company Association events during the 1980s. We were to become acquainted again when he visited London during my years there when he travelled to observe a Privy Council matter on appeal from New Zealand in which his employer was respondent.

Geoff Fuller had a richly deserved reputation as someone with a strong sense of duty, a very sharp mind and quick wit, as well as great compassion and gentleness. He was someone to look up to and to whom one could turn to as a practical sounding board.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, their two children and two grandchildren.

This obituary was first published in Council Brief, December 2009.

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Last updated on the 11th May 2012