New Zealand lost one of its foremost commercial lawyers when Paul Darvell died on 7 November 1995 aged 48 years.
Paul was born in Wellington, and educated at Wellington College and Victoria University. He initially worked as a solicitor for Chapman Tripp & Co before going to Auckland in 1972 and becoming a apartner in Rudd Garland & Horrocks. He played a pivotal role in 1984 in the merger of Rudd Garland & Horrocks, Watts & Patterson and Stone & Co to form Rudd Watts & Stone. That firm acknowledges its indebtedness to his driving energy, intellect and vision.
Paul was a leading thinker in matters of commercial law. With Richard Clarke he completed in 1983 his book on Securities Law. He also wrote many newspaper articles in relation to law reform and in particular the need for takeover rules and coherent company law legislation.
In the heady days before the crash Paul was a major force in legal and business circles, acting for many of the most prominent entrepreneurial companies of the time.
Paul’s last 8 years were dominated by the 1987 sharemarket crash, the collapse of Equiticorp, his prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office and his battle with cancer. Throughout this period he showed remarkable bravery, resilience and spiritual strength. He was acquitted of the fraud charges in relation to Equiticorp and after retiring from Rudd Watts & Stone in 1993, he built his own successful commercial law firm within a period of 12 months. Having succeeded against all odds in re-establishing himself, it was a tragedy that he should spend most of 1995 fighting a losing battle with a third bout of cancer.
Outside the law, Paul was a voracious reader, lover of music, travel, tramping in the outdoors, an enthusiastic wine buff, and a student of philosophy and religion, particularly zen meditation.
Paul had a great influence on many who met him, and at his funeral last month, St Marys Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, Auckland, was filled with family, friends and legal and business acquaintances.
Paul is survived by his wife Chris and two children, Daniel and Ainsley aged 15 and 12.
This obituary was first published in LawTalk 448, December 1995, page 3.