New Zealand Law Society - Dame Silvia Cartwright to chair Law Society regulatory working group

Dame Silvia Cartwright to chair Law Society regulatory working group

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Dame Silvia Cartwright will chair the New Zealand Law Society's regulatory working group to look at the processes for reporting and taking action on harassment and inappropriate behaviour in legal workplaces.

"I am thrilled to advise that Dame Silvia Cartwright has agreed to chair our regulatory working group," Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.

"We are very pleased to have someone with her mana and experience, in particular in the area of promotion of the rights of women and dealing with victims of sexual violence."

The five-member working group has been established to consider whether the existing regulatory framework, practices and processes are appropriate and how to provide better support for those making reports of sensitive issues.

Terms of reference for the working group are being finalised. The working group will have two lawyer members and the Law Society is seeking expressions of interest from lawyers who want to participate. Applications close at noon on Friday, 23 March.

The working group will look at:

  • Whether the regulatory framework, practices and processes enable adequate reporting of harassment or inappropriate workplace behaviour within the legal profession;
  • Whether the regulatory framework, practices and processes provide adequate support for those affected by harassment or inappropriate workplace behaviour; and
  • The adequacy of the regulatory framework, practices and processes to enable effective action to be taken where such conduct is alleged.

Dame Silvia graduated LLB from the University of Otago in 1967 and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor. She was the second woman to be appointed a District Court Judge, in September 1981.

She chaired the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment of Cervical Cancer and Other Related Matters at National Women's Hospital (which became known as the Cartwright Inquiry) in 1987 and 1988. She was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1989 for services to women.

Dame Silvia was appointed Chief District Court Judge in 1989 and in 1993 she was the first woman to be appointed to the full High Court bench.

She served as Governor-General from 2001 to 2006 and then took up a position as one of 13 international trial judges on the United Nations Tribunal investigating war crimes in Cambodia. She served on the tribunal until 2014.

The other members of the working group were announced on 19 April 2018. Details are available here.