Faculty of Law

This lecture is given in honour of the late Lord Cooke of Thorndon, a Victoria law alumnus and is widely considered New Zealand’s most eminent jurist. He is the only New Zealand judge to have sat in the House of Lords.

It takes place in the first two weeks of December and alternates each year between a judge and a legal academic.

Lord Cooke, ONZ, KBE, QC, PC (9 May 1926 – 30 August 2006) was born in Wellington, attended Wanganui Collegiate School, and graduated with an LLM degree from Victoria. He subsequently studied at Clare College, Cambridge as a Research Fellow. While on a travelling scholarship, Lord Cooke was awarded a MA degree in 1954 from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and subsequently, a PhD degree in 1955.

He practised law in New Zealand for almost 20 years and was appointed a QC in 1964. In 1972 he was appointed as a Judge of what was then the Supreme Court, now the High Court. In 1976 he was elevated to the New Zealand Court of Appeal, which at that time was the highest court in the country. In 1986 he was appointed as President of that Court, a position he was to hold for the next 10 years.

The Robin Cooke Lecture has been given by:

  • 2002 Lord Johan Steyn, House of Lords, “Democracy through law”
  • 2003 Dame Sian Elias, NZ Chief Justice, “Something Old, Something New: Constitutional Stirrings and the Supreme Court”
  • 2004: Justice Michael Kirby, High Court, Australia: “Deep Lying Rights – A Constitutional Conversation Continues”
  • 2005: Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice, Canada: “Unwritten Constitutional Principles: What Is Going On?”
  • 2006: Arthur Chaskalson, former Chief Justice, South Africa: “Bad Law Makes Hard Cases: Legal Responses to Terrorism”
  • 2007: John Burrows QC, NZ Law Commissioner: “Common Law Amongst the Statutes”
  • 2008: Rt Hon Lord Bingham of Cornhill: “What is the Law?”
  • 2009: Professor Emeritus David Mullan: “Judicial Review of the Executive: Principled Exasperation”
  • 2010: Sir Anthony Mason, former Chief Justice, Australia: “Human Rights: Interpretation, Declarations of Inconsistency and the Limits of Judicial Power”.