New Zealand Law Society - Francis Cooke QC appointed to High Court bench

Francis Cooke QC appointed to High Court bench

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Wellington Queen’s Counsel Francis Cooke has been appointed a Judge of the High Court.

Justice Cooke becomes the third generation of his family to be appointed to the bench.  He is the son of Lord Cooke of Thorndon ONZ, KBE, PC, QC, and the grandson of Justice Philip Cooke QC, MC.

Photo of Justice Francis Cooke
Justice Francis Cooke. 

Justice Cooke graduated with an LLB(Hons) from Victoria University in 1989 and an LLM from the University of Cambridge in 1990 before joining the UK office of international law firm Ashurst Morris Crisp as a foreign solicitor.  

In 1992 he returned to New Zealand and commenced practice as a solicitor at the Wellington office of Chapman Tripp. He left Chapman Tripp in 1994 to join the independent bar and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 2004. 

Justice Cooke has argued a number of significant cases before the higher courts involving questions of public importance, including the leading Supreme Court decisions concerning the proposed extension to Wellington Airport, the challenge to the Ruataniwha Dam Project and the Quake Outcasts case.

He has also appeared in many leading commercial cases at all levels of the New Zealand Court system, including the Privy Council, and has been involved in a number of public inquiries.

He has acted as external counsel to the Transport Accident Investigation Commission since 1999, and was junior counsel assisting the Commission in the “Winebox” inquiry between 1994 and 1997.

Justice Cooke is a trustee of the Douglas Wilson Advocacy Scholarship Trust and a member of the New Zealand Pegasus Scholarship Committee. He has been associated with Wellington arts and particularly classical music, and in 2014 became the Chair of the Orchestra Wellington Board.

The new Judge will sit in Wellington. The swearing in ceremony will be held in the ceremonial Number 1 High Court on 4 May 2018 at 4pm. Guests are required to be seated by 3:45pm.