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Richard John Craddock QC, 1935 - 2011

By Campbell MacDiarmid

Richard John Craddock QC died at his home in Wanaka on Saturday 2 April 2011, aged 76. Mr Craddock was New Zealand's longest-serving Queen’s Counsel (equal with Robert Alan Houston) and is remembered by those who encountered him during his long legal career for his formidable intellect and tremendous work ethic.

Mr Craddock graduated from Otago University and was admitted to the bar on 3 March 1958. He came to Auckland to practice where he met another young lawyer, Sir Edmund Thomas QC.

“We met in 1959 and became firm friends and flatmates. We flatted together until the first of us got married – I think that was Richard. He was a good flatmate, very convivial, a good companion. I don’t know that he was a particularly good cook but there were three of us in the flat and I don’t think any of us were.

“From time to time we had cases against one another. Richard was a very tough litigator, very astute, and always on top of his game. He was a formidable opponent; he always made a very very strong position and presented it convincingly. That was one of his strong points, he was incredibly persuasive. It was very difficult to put your finger on a flaw in his argument – if there was a flaw – while he was on his feet because he was so persuasive.”

Sir Edmund recalls that on one occasion Mr Craddock acted on his behalf. “He used to act for the AA and I was charged with a traffic offence, I instructed Richard and he had me acquitted. Those were in the very early days when he was doing minor work and he went on to much bigger things.”

Mr Craddock’s first employer was Auckland law firm Holmden Horrocks where he became a partner. Brian Somervell, the firm’s longest-serving partner, started working for the firm as a junior solicitor in the early 1970s.

“I was wet behind the ears and he was the archetypical court lawyer at the time. As I recall, everyone who worked there had a great deal of respect for him and he was regarded by the younger ones with some awe.

“He was probably, in my opinion, one of the clearest thinkers I have ever met. His ability to analyse, cut through and get to the basics of things was pretty awesome actually. Even now after 40-odd years going at it fairly solidly, if I get a difficult issue to think about I say to myself, I wonder what Richard would have done? That’s something that’s stuck with me with all this time, even though he left the firm in the mid ‘70s.

“The other thing that was impressive about him was his work ethic. People who knew him were always impressed by his tremendous ability to just work and work at a tremendous pitch for hours and hours. He’d go long into the night and into the next day without missing a beat; tremendous application.”

In 1976 Mr Craddock left Holmden Horrocks to practise as a barrister sole. During his career as a barrister he appeared in a number of high profile commercial cases and was counsel in several cases before the Privy Council.

Mr Craddock was appointed QC on 23 March 1981, the same date as Sir Edmund Thomas and Robert Alan Houston.

As well as his work at bar, Mr Craddock was also an active participant in Law Society matters. This included terms as chairman and member of a number of Auckland District and New Zealand Law Society committees, and work as a contributor to the Auckland continuing legal education programme.

Mr Craddock is survived by his wife Lizzie, children Amanda, David and Joanna and eight grandchildren.

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Last updated on the 26th July 2018