New Zealand Law Society - Our Profession, Our People

Our Profession, Our People

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Three Queen’s Counsel have been appointed this year: Auckland barrister Margaret Casey, Wellington barrister Mark O’Brien and Wellington legal academic Richard Boast.

“Of particular note is the appointment of Richard Boast who has been appointed under the Royal prerogative in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the law and in particular the legal history of New Zealand,” the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said when announcing the new QCs.

Margaret Casey graduated with a BA LLB from Auckland University in 1983. After being in practice for seven years, Ms Casey attended Kings College London, graduating with an LLM (with Merit). On her return to New Zealand in 1993 she went to the bar. She specialises in family law with an emphasis on assisted reproduction law, securing parenting rights in international and domestic surrogacy and adoption cases and the application of international Conventions involving children particularly the Hague Convention. She also mediates and arbitrates complex relationship property and trust disputes. She is a member of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Mark O’Brien is a graduate of Victoria University. He joined the Wellington firm Young Swan McKay & Co in 1979. He moved to London, joining the litigation team at Speechly Bircham in 1982. On his return to New Zealand, he joined Bell Gully in Wellington where he was made partner in 1988. Mr O’Brien joined the independent bar in 2013. He specialises in general commercial litigation, particularly banking and insolvency, oil and gas industry issues, price fixing, reinsurance, property, general contract and company law work.

Richard Boast graduated with an MA from Waikato University and an LLM from Victoria University. He was admitted in 1979. He is a Professor at Victoria University specialising in property law and Māori legal issues and legal history. He has also authored or co-authored various books and articles in the areas of natural resources law, New Zealand legal history and the law relating to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Judge Miharo Armstrong of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui has been appointed a Judge of the Māori Land Court. Judge Armstrong was temporarily appointed last year on the retirement of Judge Andrew Spencer to assist with the workload of the Māori Land Court and the Waitangi Tribunal. Judge Armstrong has sat primarily in Te Taitokerau.

Auckland barrister Miriam Dean QC has been reappointed to the board of NZ On Air, which she chairs. President of the New Zealand Bar Association, Ms Dean was appointed to NZ On Air in 2012.

Christchurch lawyer Sue McCormack has been appointed to the University of Canterbury Council, one of the first two tertiary councils to be established under changes to the Education Act. Pro Chancellor of Canterbury University, Ms McCormack is a commercial and corporate lawyer with over 20 years’ legal experience. She is a partner of Mortlock McCormack Law, and previously owned McCormack Law. She has held several directorships, including Lyttelton Port Company from 1998 to 2007 and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2008. Ms McCormack is presently a board member of Public Trust.

Auckland barrister Ali’muamua Sandra Alofivae is one of nine Pacific professionals and leaders who have been selected to sit on the Pacific Peoples Advisory Council for a three-year term from July 1. This council advises Pacific Peoples Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Josie Boyd of Auckland, General Counsel at Northpower Limited, is one of 12 recipients of this year’s Prime Minister’s Business Scholarships. Josie is applying to attend the Wharton Business School Advanced Management Programme, to support her professional and personal development in a broader spectrum. This is the sixth year the scholarships have been awarded.

Auckland lawyer David Flacks has been appointed to the board of the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Ltd. A director of Flacks & Wong Limited, Mr Flacks specialises in corporate law. He is a member of the Takeovers Panel, director of Vero Insurance NZ Ltd, and chair of the NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal.

Dame Patsy Reddy, former Minter Ellison Rudd Watts partner and Victoria University law lecturer, has been reappointed for one year as the Chair of Education Payroll Ltd (EPL), the company established in 2014 to operate the schools payroll.

Employment law conference

The Law Society’s Canterbury-Westland branch is holding its 2015 Employment Law Conference at the Commodore Airport Hotel, Christchurch, on 18 August.

The presenters include Employment Court Chief Judge Colgan, Employment Court Judge Corkill and Employment Relations Authority member Helen Doyle. There will also be presenters from the profession.

Jeff Goldstein is the conference chair. For more information email

Lawyer in final of tax policy contest

Wellington lawyer Caleb McConnell is a finalist in the 2015 Tax Policy Competition, run by the Tax Policy Scholarships Charitable Trust (TPSCT).

Entrants in this competition submitted proposals which outlined a significant reform of the New Zealand tax system.

A solicitor with Chapman Tripp, Mr McConnell’s proposal focused on purchase and sale of company tax losses. He joins three Aucklanders – two tax consultants and a company general manager – in the final, to be held at Victoria University on 8 October.

Each will present to, and field questions from, a judging panel comprising: Robin Oliver, former Inland Revenue Deputy Commissioner; John Shewan, TPSCT and former PricewaterhouseCoopers chair; John Whitehead, former Secretary of Treasury; Oliver Hartwich, New Zealand Initiative Executive Director; and Joanne Hodge, former Bell Gully tax partner.

The winner will receive $10,000 and the other finalists $2,000. Tax professionals under the age of 35 working in New Zealand were eligible to enter the competition.

Proposals had to take into account future challenges facing the New Zealand tax system and detail how they could simplify tax and reduce compliance costs for taxpayers.

The TPSCT was established in 2012 by Tax Management New Zealand and its founder director Ian Kuperus to encourage future tax policy leaders and support leading tax policy thinking in New Zealand.

Research on domestic violence

Women’s Refuge has asked Law for Change Otago to write a research paper into the effects of restorative justice in domestic violence cases.

The Women’s Refuge will provide testimonials and information from their clients and Law for Change will do further research. Karen Heine and Clare Poulgrain are the lead members of this project.

Established in 2012 by a group of Otago University law students, Law for Change aims to enable lawyers and law students in New Zealand to harness their legal skills to serve the public good.

Law for Change is now also an active part of campus in Waikato and Canterbury Universities, as well as having a young professional focus in Wellington. Law for Change is now a registered charity and holds executive meetings annually.

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