New Zealand Law Society - Richard John Sutton, 1939 - 2009

Richard John Sutton, 1939 - 2009

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Emeritus Professor Richard Sutton died in Dunedin on 17 April 2009 aged 70 years. Professor Sutton joined the Otago University law school faculty in 1980 after teaching at Auckland University for 15 years.

During his time in the law, Professor Sutton tried his hand at many things, including conveyancing, opinion work and law reform. The most important thing for him, however, was teaching and legal research. His main interests have always been in private law, particularly the principle of "unjust enrichment".

A Law Commissioner from 1992-97, he was deputy president from July 1996 to January 1997 and acting president for some of that period. He was Otago University's Law Dean both before (1981-85) and after (1998-99) his time at the Law Commission. Professor Sutton was associated with the Te Matahauariki project at Waikato University, an initiative that looked at the fundamentals of law from a Maori perspective and aimed to work towards a genuinely bicultural set of laws. From 1996-2007, he chaired the project's advisory panel.

Professor Sutton was also well known as a chess player. He was New Zealand Champion in 1963, 1971 and 1972, New Zealand representative at the Chess Olympics in Yugoslavia in 1972 and national master 1963 and 1968. As recently as 2005, he was the South Island Champion. He was also a member of the Anglican Church's General Synod.

This obituary was first published in LawTalk 729, 18 May 2009, page 4.

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