New Zealand Law Society - Former Employment Court Chief Judge Thomas Goddard dies

Former Employment Court Chief Judge Thomas Goddard dies

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The first Chief Judge of the Employment Court, Tom Goddard, died in Wellington on 14 March 2019 after a lengthy illness. He was aged 81.

Born in Poland before the war, Mr Goddard emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1947. He specialised in labour law and defamation before his appointment to the Labour Court in 1989. The Employment Contracts Act 1991 made radical changes to employment law and Mr Goddard became Chief Judge of the Employment Court in 1991.

“As Chief Judge, Tom oversaw the transition not just of two different iterations of the specialist Employment Court, but also of significantly different pieces of legislation,” Employment Court Chief Judge Christina Inglis says.

“In this role he presided over the Court through an era of compulsory unionism and its subsequent demise, followed by a period characterised by many as reflecting a purely contractual approach to employment relationships, through to the more recent focus on mutual obligations of good faith between employer and employee. Throughout, Tom was a strong voice for fair dealing according to the rule of law."

An obituary for Thomas Goddard is available here.

Special sitting

Chief Judge Inglis says a special memorial sitting of the Employment Court will be held in Wellington later in 2019, to provide practitioners and others with an opportunity to formally acknowledge Tom Goddard's valuable contribution to the law. She says details will be publicised closer to the time.