Charles Pierrepont Hutchinson – believed to be the country’s oldest Queen’s Counsel – died in Auckland on 5 August 1997 aged 91.
Born in Wiltshire in the United Kingdom, Mr Hutchinson immigrated to New Zealand in 1925, working as a farmer until he became a law student in 1936. Admitted to the bar in New Zealand in 1940, he was called to the bar of England and Wales (Lincoln’s Inn) in 1945 and practised in London from 1945 to 1953. He was a partner in Russell McVeagh from 1955 to 1964, when he left the firm to take silk.
Mr Hutchinson was the editor of the New Zealand Law Reports from 1971 to 1979. He also wrote a chapter of Portrait of a Profession. His public service included time as chair of the commission of inquiry into Oakley Hospital and the Royal Commission into Hospital and Related Services, both in the 1970s. He was also a member of the Shop Trading Hours Commission from 1978 to 1980.
Know as “Hutch” to his former partners, he is remembered in The Making of Russell McVeagh as the unofficial “house historian” of the firm in the 1970s and early 80s, and he prepared an unpublished history of the firm in 1982.
The Making of Russell McVeagh remembers that when Hutch first joined the firm in 1953 “the opinions of Hutchinson, informed by his recent Chancery experience, were at least the equal of [the partner he replaced] though to be sure, they could be expressed in handwriting of such bewildering angularity that one such opinion which Hutch left lying around the office was mistaken by someone, so the story goes, for a musical score.” (page 181).
This obituary was first published in LawTalk 484, 1 September 1997, page 2.