New Zealand Law Society - Conference to mark retirement of Chief Justice

Conference to mark retirement of Chief Justice

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The retirement of Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias in 2019 will be marked with a conference in Auckland at which distinguished international and New Zealand speakers will explore tradition and direction in the law.

Members of the legal profession are being asked to "save the date" for the two-day conference. It will run from 31 January to 1 February 2019 and will be held at the Fisher and Paykel Auditorium, University of Auckland. It will close with a special dinner at the Auckland Museum on 1 February.

Photo of Dame Sian Elias
Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias. 

The conference is being hosted by the Legal Research Foundation, with the support of the New Zealand Law Foundation. It will be chaired by Law Foundation Chair Dr Andrew Butler.

The lineup of international speakers includes Justice Rosalie Abella (Supreme Court of Canada), Professor Stuart Banner (Norman Abrams Professor of Law, University of California), Justice Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa (President of the International Association of Constitutional Law, and former Justice and President of the Constitutional Court of Colombia), Justice Susan Kiefel AC (Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia), Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE (former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia), Justice Kate O’Regan (Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Faculty of Law, Oxford University, and formerly of the Constitutional Court of South Africa), Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders (Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne), Professor Jeremy Waldron (School of Law, New York University), Professor Christina Voigt (University of Oslo).

New Zealand speakers include Professor Richard Boast QC (Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington), Sir Kenneth Keith QC (retired Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand), Professor Janet McLean (Faculty of Law, University of Auckland), Professor Paul Rishworth QC (Crown Law Office), Professor Peter Watts QC (Barrister, Bankside Chambers).

Further details about the conference programme will be available shortly. Pre-registration information is available at or

Dame Sian was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court in 1970. She was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1988 and served as a Law Commissioner from 1986 to 1990. In 1995 she became a Judge of the High Court. She was appointed Chief Justice in 1999 and was awarded the GNZM that year. In January 2004 she became a member of the newly-established Supreme Court.