A large charitable trust devoted to legal education and research, expected to be worth around $30 million, has been established by former District Court Judge Ian Borrin.
Named the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation, in memory of Judge Borrin’s parents, the trust was announced at a memorial service for the retired judge, held in Wellington on 11 April. Judge Borrin died on 23 March.
This is one of the largest single purpose bequests made in New Zealand.
Judge Borrin was an “outstanding and highly respected Wellington practitioner and a very fine Judge of the District Court,” the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias said on the day of the memorial service.
“Ian supported scholarship and legal publications, perhaps a neglected object of philanthropy in New Zealand, but he knew that the rule of law underpins any community and he believed very strongly in its importance for New Zealand.”
Members of the legal community at all levels will be supported by grants and scholarships to undertake legal writing, research and education through this gift, Dame Sian noted.
Although the Foundation will provide direct support to those in the legal community, “there is no doubt that its primary beneficiaries are the people of New Zealand who live under the security of law, something Ian Borrin believed in and worked tirelessly for. It is a magnificent legacy which will be of lasting benefit,” Dame Sian Elias said.
Speaking as President of the New Zealand Law Society, Chris Moore also paid a tribute to Judge Borrin, describing him as “highly regarded by the legal profession during his career for his compassionate approach and generous spirit.
“The Law Society has no doubt that our legal and justice system will be significantly enhanced by this legacy. It is a fitting memorial to the man and his parents,” Mr Moore said.
Law Society Executive Director Christine Grice has also paid tribute. “He was so generous and a lovely man and so very well regarded. It was when I was regularly appearing before the Family Court, so I got to know him quite well,” she says.
The new trust will be administered by the Nikau Foundation as trustee, with an advisory independent Grants and Scholarship Committee established by retired Judge Borrin. This committee comprises: The Chief Justice of New Zealand; the President of the Law Society; the Dean of the Law School at Victoria University; Retired Chief Judge Thomas Goddard and his alternate David Goddard QC and a representative of the Nikau Foundation.
Judge Borrin was raised in Wellington, attended Wellington College and studied law at Victoria University. He was appointed to the District Court in 1983 and served as head of the Police Complaints Authority, retiring in 2007 aged 72.
A generous supporter of the Victoria University Law Faculty, he has helped with the Victoria University Law Review, supported the development of a room for postgraduate study in the Law Faculty’s Library and created the Ian Borrin Visiting Fellowship.
A keen skier, he was a member of the Federation of International Skiers, an international arbitration court that heard cases relating to ski racing at its highest level. He also served as President of the New Zealand Ski Association.
Judge Borrin is survived by his partner Jenny George.