New Zealand Law Society - Our Profession, Our People

Our Profession, Our People

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

Wellington Queen’s Counsel Matthew Palmer has been appointed a High Court Judge. He was sworn in on 27 October in Wellington and sits in Auckland. Justice Palmer was recently appointed convenor of the New Zealand Law Society’s Public and Administrative Law Committee, having served on the committee since 2010. As well as graduating with an LLB (Hons) (First Class) in 1987, he has degrees in economics and political science from Canterbury University and a Masters and Doctorate in Law from Yale Law School. Justice Palmer held positions at the Treasury and as Deputy Secretary for Justice (Public Law). Justice Palmer was also Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Law, and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law, at Victoria University of Wellington for five years. He then took up the role of Deputy Solicitor-General (Public Law) at the Crown Law Office in 2008 where he remained until 2012. While working in the public sector, Justice Palmer provided advice to Ministers, Cabinet and select committees on a range of matters including the agreement of protocols between the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Solicitor-General. He was lead negotiator for the Crown in an international compensation claim for the MV Rena and in the first historical settlement of a Treaty of Waitangi land claim with Waikato Tainui in 1994/95. Justice Palmer joined the independent bar in 2012 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2014. He has specialised in litigation and advice challenging or defending decisions of government, Crown entities and public bodies and has led argument in many public law cases in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and Waitangi Tribunal. He has taught law at Victoria University, Hong Kong University, Yale Law School, the Australian and New Zealand School of Government and the University of Chicago Law School.

Grove Darlow partner Jacque Lethbridge has been appointed to the Board of the Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand (RITANZ) – the professional body for insolvency practitioners and for those working in business reconstruction and turnaround, and corporate and personal insolvency in New Zealand. RITANZ is affiliated with the International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (INSOL) International. Ms Lethbridge is one of two female board members appointed – a first in the 20-year history of the organisation and its predecessor INSOL New Zealand. Ms Lethbridge has also been appointed a Trustee of Inspiring Stories Trust, a charitable trust established five years ago to encourage and empower young New Zealanders to make a difference in their communities – socially, environmentally, and economically.

Former Buddle Findlay partner Sacha Judd has been appointed to the Takeovers Panel for a five-year term. Ms Judd recently took up the role of managing director of the Hoku Group. She has a special interest in the impact of the Takeovers Code on smaller companies through her work with early-stage and high-growth ventures. Mayne Wetherell partner Simon Horner and Chapman Tripp partner Roger Wallis have been reappointed to the Panel for further terms of five years and 18 months respectively.

Human rights contest

The deadline for lawyers seeking to enter the International Human Rights Competition is rapidly approaching. The closing date for registration is 11 November.

Open to all lawyers registered with a bar (in New Zealand’s case, lawyers holding a practising certificate), the competition will see lawyers present a defence for a “genuine, individual case of human rights violation, taken from recent current affairs”.

Candidates must write a speech for the defence of up to 10,200 characters including spaces or 1,700 words. November 11 is the final date for sending organisers the speech for the defence. As well as the speech, entrants must also provide proof they are a member of a bar and proof that the cause they are defending is a genuine case.

From these entries, 10 lawyers will be selected around mid-December for the final, which will be held at the Mémorial de Caen, France on 31 January 2016.

For more information see, and the contact is

Law firm news

Christchurch firm Saunders Robinson Brown has been named as a finalist in this year’s Plain English Awards. The firm is one of three finalists in the “Best Plain English Sentence Transformation” category. Conversion of a sentence from the firm’s agreement for sale and purchase of land gained the firm a finalist position. The winners of the Plain English Awards will be announced at a function in Wellington on 19 November. Saunders Robinson Brown provides specialist legal advice with a particular focus on commercial law, property law, trusts and estates, civil litigation and employment law.

Lawyers’ Cricket World Cup

The fifth Lawyers’ Cricket World Cup tournament will be held in Brisbane from 28 December 2015 to 10 January 2016. The tournament’s New Zealand Co-ordinator, Wellington lawyer John Dean, is still looking for cricketing lawyers to make up a Kiwi squad, including players, umpires, scorers and supporters.

Lawyers interested in participating can register an expression of interest via the New Zealand Lawyers Cricket World Cup web site, Completing the form will inform the organisers what cricket skills or interests you have. Players, umpires, scorers and supporters are all welcome.

The organisers are looking at a one day style kit and cap for the players. In the event there are insufficient numbers to make up a New Zealand team, New Zealanders will then play in a Commonwealth XI.

There will be a seminar day during the tournament at which participants will be able to update their professional skills on a range of diverse topics pertaining to Commonwealth Lawyers, such as sports law, international law, even Australia-New Zealand law. These seminars will qualify for CPD attendances.

A copy of the rules is at For more information, contact the New Zealand Co-ordinator, John Dean, at

Lawyer Listing for Bots