New Zealand Law Society - AMINZ conference lays down the law

AMINZ conference lays down the law

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The Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ) didn’t set out to tailor this year’s conference to those who practise law – although it might just as well have.

Lawyers, jurists and legal experts are well represented in the 40-plus presenters scheduled to appear at the three-day gathering in Wellington from July 23-25. Among the sessions will be an add-on seminar with John Sturrock, QC and a plenary session featuring the London-based Kiwi arbitrator Wendy Miles, QC.

Ms Miles, a Victoria University graduate who now regularly acts as counsel in some of the world’s most significant arbitration proceedings, has a particular enthusiasm for how her country can best position itself as a regional player in this area.

Mr Sturrock, a practising member of the Scottish Bar from 1986-2002 who trained in negotiation at Harvard University in 1996 and was Specialist of the Year at the Scottish Legal Awards in 2003, has won rave reviews as a “negotiator’s negotiator” in the British legal press. He was named Mediator of the Year in the Law Awards of Scotland in 2009 – 10 years after being appointed a Queen’s Counsel.

How dispute resolution relates to law, and those who practise it, has been a frequent focus of his writings, commentary and activity as a mediator, which has often involved working with law firms. Also booked for a return visit of one of the region’s eminent jurists, Justice Michael Kirby. Justice Kirby has not only been involved in dispensing the law, but in trying to change it.

Last month he told a senate inquiry in Canberra that, despite the heights he achieved in his career, he remains a second-class citizen because Australian law does not permit him to marry his partner.

Justice Kirby said he was there as a private citizen of Australia and a homosexual man he had yet to receive “a satisfactory explanation … of how my loving relationship with my partner in any way damage[s] the institution of marriage or would if marriage were available to us, damage that relationship, or diminish it or degrade it in any fashion whatsoever.”

Fresh from heading a UN enquiry on human rights abuse in North Korea, Justice Kirby will also be looking at international law and how it relates to one of the world’s most seemingly insoluble military stand-offs.

Justice Minister Amy Adams will speak at the opening ceremony in the Grand Hall of Parliament.

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