New Zealand Law Society - Law student competition winners

Law student competition winners

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The honours were relatively evenly spread between the universities at this year’s New Zealand Law Students Association (NZLSA) competitions.

Auckland University students won two contests, with Victoria, Waikato and Otago universities winning one each. Canterbury University was runner-up in two competitions. The competitions were held in conjunction with NZLSA’s 2015 Conference, held at Otago University from 25-29 August.


Sam Jeffs and Carter Pearce from Auckland University won the NZLSA Open Mooting competition ahead of Abhiteja Kandarpa and Sean Brennan from Victoria University.

The problem this year was a case involving defamation. One issue was whether a statement made outside court amounted to an effective repetition or adoption of defamatory statements made in court under absolute privilege. This was based on the facts from Jennings v Buchanan [2002] 3 NZLR 145 in which the Court of Appeal agreed it was arguable that a defendant who “effectively repeats” statements made under absolute privilege, in a situation in which that privilege does not apply, may be liable in defamation. Secondly, the problem raised the issue of whether an internet access provider with a degree of control over the websites it hosts, is liable for defamation for allowing those statements to be placed on its web pages.

Auckland University was to the fore again in the Bell Gully Junior Mooting competition when Caitlin Anyon Peters and Katherine Eichelbaum defeated Kayla Polamalu and Lucy Kenner from Victoria University.

The problem involved name suppression in the context of a blog author reporting on court proceedings. Firstly, the position of a blogger as a member of the media was argued, there being no established test for how courts should exercise the discretion provided in s 210(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. Secondly it was argued whether name suppression should be awarded under s 200 of the Criminal Procedure Act following the framework developed in Robertson v New Zealand Police [2015] NZCA 7 and other New Zealand authorities.

Witness examination

Waikato University’s Stephen Taylor won the Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Witness Examination competition, while Auckland University’s Roshana Ching was runner-up.

In the contest scenario, the accused was charged under s 13A of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, in that he intended to assist a known terrorist, whom he was aware intended to carry out a terrorist act, to avoid arrest by harbouring him in his house. In his testimony, a detective said that the arrest of the defendant’s flatmate was based primarily on evidence collected by bug placed in the accused’s home. This alerted Police of an attack on the Prime Minister at the next opportunity. The defence was that the accused assumed his flatmate was joking with these statements, and that he was not aware that he was a terrorist.


Ellie Domigan and Jamie Rohan from Otago University won the Buddle Findlay Negotiation final from Nasif Azam and Charlie Rohan from Canterbury University.

The final concerned a hypothetical scenario related to the 2019 Cricket World Cup. The International Cricket Council (ICC) was looking for major sponsors for each match during the event, which involved advertising during TV broadcasts and advertising featured at the grounds. ICC had reached an agreement in principle with Swete, a sports deodorant brand, to be a major sponsor for the final, and the parties involved were meeting to discuss the length of the dinner break featuring Swete’s advertising, the circumstances in which the final would not feature a lunch break, the consequences of such an occurrence, and the price of the sponsorship agreement.

Client interviewing

Victoria University’s Eve Bain and Fayez Shahbaz won the Russell McVeagh Client Interviewing contest from Hugh Goodwin and Tom Burgess of Canterbury University.

The final scenario featured a client talking about three issues related to their plumbing company. Firstly, the client wondered about their liability after an earthquake caused a lot of damage to a building their company had previously worked on, and what the consequences were of the failure of an automatic ‘stopper’ which may or may not have been installed properly. The client also had a query regarding their options after water flooded their personal property from a water feature installed at their neighbour’s property, damaged after the earthquake. Lastly, the client asked about a situation where a supplier of goods had sent the wrong size of piping, with the correct size having to be sourced from a competitor, costing much more, resulting in a delay and a loss of contract price.

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