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Student success at National Māori Moot

1 October 2015

 Kohe Ruwhiu Mooting

Law and commerce student Kohe Ruwhiu was part of the winning team at the National Māori Moot Competition at Waitangi in early September, taking home the Manukura Taonga.

Representing Victoria University and Ngā Rangahautira (Victoria’s Māori Law Students’ Association), Kohe was joined by Inigo Kwan-Parsons from Auckland University and Aperahama Hurihanganui from Waikato University). The team acted as the Crown.

Kohe mooted on standing to sue for the Crown on a fictitious scenario based on Wākatu—a case to be heard in the Supreme Court in October.

The judicial panel consisted of Deputy Chief Judge Caren Fox, Judge Coxhead and Justice Lowell Goddard.

Kohe was named as part of the national team after winning best individual mooter and the best moot team in the Victoria Māori Moot.

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Victoria graduate appointed Judge of the High Court

1 October 2015

Karen Clark QCImage Credit Thorndon Chambers
Karen Clark QC has been appointed a Judge of the High Court in Wellington.

Justice Clark graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from Victoria in 1986 and joined the Crown Law Office as a Crown Counsel Assistant.

She was appointed Crown Counsel in 1988 and spent six years leading the Office’s public commercial team before becoming a Deputy Solicitor-General in 2002.

In 2007, she went to the independent bar and was appointed Queen’s Counsel.

Justice Clark has managed several large-scale litigation cases, including the landmark 198 day trial of proceedings brought by the Statutory Managers of the Equiticorp Group. She also represented the Director of Security in the long-running Ahmed Zaoui litigation.

She has appeared before inquiries involving significant public interest issues, including the Coronial Inquiry into the circumstances of the deaths of those who died in the CTV Building and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy.

Justice Clark is a member of the New Zealand Council of Legal Education and the New Zealand Council of Law Reporting. She is also recognised as a Special Advocate under the Immigration Act.

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Intellectual Property Presidency for Professor Susy Frankel

1 October 2015

Professor Susy FrankelProfessor Susy Frankel has become the first Australasian President of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research of Intellectual Property (ATRIP).

ATRIP is a global organisation with a significant European and North American membership and a growing membership in Asia and this part of the world. Former presidents include Professor Annette Kur of the Max Planck Institute; Professor Graeme Dinwoodie from the University of Oxford and Professor Bill Cornish from the University of Cambridge. Professor Frankel succeeds Professor Tana Psitorius of the University of Pretoria.

Taking over the presidency at the 34th Congress of ATRIP in South Africa recently, Professor Frankel said part of her role as President was to organise two international congresses—the first in 2016 in Poland, the second in 2017 in Wellington, hosted by Victoria University’s Faculty of Law.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for ATRIP to expand into the Southern Hemisphere and provide a forum for discussion of this dynamic field in this part of the world.

“The Executive Committee and I will work to bring as many teachers and researchers in the field to Wellington in 2017, with an emphasis on expanding participation from the Asia Pacific region.”

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Indigenous Law Speaker Series wraps up for 2015

1 October 2015

Carwyn Jones and Sir Kenneth Keith

The 2015 Māori Law Review Indigenous Law Speaker Series wrapped up recently with a seminar delivered by Victoria University Distinguished Fellow Sir Kenneth Keith on the Treaty of Waitangi and International Law.

Carwyn Jones, Senior Lecturer at Victoria’s Faculty of Law and Co-editor of the Māori Law Review, said the series was now a regular—and successful—part of the Māori Law Review’s activities.

“We’re thrilled with the opportunity the series provides students, faculty members, and practitioners to engage with some of our best and brightest scholars, advocates, lawyers, and judges on important issues of law and policy affecting Māori and indigenous peoples.”

The 2015 series began with a session jointly presented by Natalie Coates and Horiana Irwin, two inspiring young Māori women who have recently graduated from Harvard Law School’s LLM programme. The pair reflected on their experiences of postgraduate study and how that influences their approach to their legal practice.

The second speaker was Kim Workman, a well-known justice reform advocate and current holder of the J.D. Stout Fellowship at Victoria’s Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies. Kim talked about his book project, Criminal Justice, the State and Māori, which aims to document the history of Māori in the criminal justice system and examine the relationship between punitiveness and neoliberalism.

This year, for the first time, the Māori Law Review also held three Indigenous Law speaker events in Auckland, two of which were also delivered in Wellington.

Carwyn Jones said the success of the Auckland series was in no small part thanks to the support of Buddle Findlay, which has had a long association with the Māori Law Review, and the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland.
The first Auckland event featured Tracey Whare, who talked about indigenous peoples’ rights at the United Nations and her central role in the global indigenous caucus at the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. She was followed by Bernadette Arapere, Director at Wackrow Williams and Davies who spoke about her experience of engaging with the Waitangi Tribunal as a historian, lawyer, and iwi member.

At the final Auckland event, Buddle Findlay partner Paul Beverley spoke about recent developments in co-management and co-governance, particularly in the context of Treaty settlements. The session was successfully chaired by former Māori Law Review student editor, Erin Carr.

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Cross-border dispute resolution in the Pacific Islands

28 September 2015

Petra Butler and the delegates at her workshop in Tonga

A workshop, organised by Associate Professor Petra Butler, was held in Tonga in September to help Pacific Islanders learn how to resolve cross-border disputes.

The focus of the workshop was on helping Pacific Island countries address whether, how and why to ratify the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958) (New York Convention) and whether to adapt their laws to the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.

The workshop was sponsored by the New Zealand Aid programme and the Centre for Small States, Queen Mary University in London, and was supported by Victoria University and the Tongan Women In Law Association (WILA).

Associate Professor Butler, who is Co-Director of the Centre for Small States, worked with VicLink to access Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pacific Island Countries Participation Funding to support attendance at the conference from several Pacific Island representatives.

She said the workshop brought together delegates to discuss the advantages for the Pacific Island States, Tonga and others to accede to ratify the New York convention.

“The idea is to have in-depth discussion and allow delegates to ask questions specifically to their jurisdictions.”

No Pacific Island country had ratified the New York Convention yet, she said.

Gary Born, a world-leading arbitration practitioner in London and chair of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale Dorr LPP's international arbitration practice group, who held the inaugural senior visiting research fellowship at Victoria University’s New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law earlier this year, carried out the workshop facilitated by Alisi Taumopeau, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Delegates from Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Pacific Island Prosecutors Association Secretariat (PILON) from Samoa and Dr Edwin Kessie Chief Trade Advisor OCTA (Office of the Chief Trade Advisor) participated in the workshop.

Born said one of the objectives of the workshop was to raise awareness among Pacific Islands on the different forms of disputes and explore particular international arbitration means.

“The benefit for Tongan citizens, businesses and government is that when engaging in world trade with foreign parties whether from Asia, Europe, New Zealand and so forth it’s very important the terms of trade be conducted in a neutral playing field and disputes are resolved efficiently, expertly and mutually,” he said.

- sourced from Matangi Tonga

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Professor Graeme Austin leads South East Asian IP research

24 September 2015

Professor Graeme AustinProfessor Graeme Austin (Chair in Private Law) has recently returned from Singapore where he is playing a leading role in a research project on the coordination of intellectual property laws of ASEAN countries.

Professor Austin, who was the 2014 Yong Shook Lin Visiting Professor of Intellectual Property at the National University of Singapore, co-convened a recent public conference on IP Interoperabilty run by the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Law and Business. He was also a speaker at the Singapore IP Academy’s Fifth Global Forum on Intellectual Property 2015, joining Mr Justice Birss, a judge of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, and two leading IP practitioners to explore strategic and legal issues in the context of multinational IP litigation.

Professor Austin is collaborating with principal investigator, Associate Professor Elizabeth Siew-Kuan NG, from the National University of Singapore Law School, on a research project that that will bring together leading scholars and experts in IP and private international law to consider the need and potential benefits of making the IP systems more interoperable in ASEAN and beyond.

Professor Austin says the ASEAN group provides a unique context in which to explore “IP interoperability”.

“The ‘ASEAN Way’ is informed by a deep respect for the sovereignty of the individual nations and regard for the differences in levels of economic development. As a result, substantive harmonization of IP laws of the kind we see in the European Union is not on the table. We need to look to other means of achieving IP interoperability, including through private international law and inter-agency dialogue and cooperation.”

Professor Austin and Associate Professor Siew-Kuan NG’s research will draw from papers presented at their recent conference on IP Interoperabilty, as well as a second conference they will convene in Singapore in January 2016. Their research will also examine other initiatives outside of the ASEAN context that provide a wider perspective on the issues faced by the ASEAN nations, including the Latin America IP Cooperation model.

The research will form part of a forthcoming book which will be published by Cambridge University Press.

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From one presidency to another

22 September 2015

A group of students at the NZLSA Conference

At the NZLSA Conference in Dunedin L - R: Michaela Olsson (Vice-President Administration of the Australian Law Students' Association ALSA), Jacob Nutt (NZLSA President 2015), Marie Iskander (Vice-President Education of ALSA) and Geordie Johnson.

Victoria University of Wellington Law Students’ Society (VUWLSS) President Geordie Johnson obviously has leadership in his blood. While he’s about to hand over the reins of VUWLSS to new president Victoria Rea, he will be taking over a new set as President of the New Zealand Law Students’ Association (NZLSA).

NZLSA is the parent body of all the six law students’ societies around the country. As well as organising legal skills competitions for law students, NZLSA advocates on law students’ behalf and facilitates information sharing between the different law students’ societies. It also works closely with the Australian Law Students’ Association Executive and Council.

Geordie was elected to the position of president at the NZLSA’s recent AGM in Dunedin. His term began on 18 September.

“There'll be about a month where I'll be juggling both NZLSA and VUWLSS presidencies which will be interesting.”

Geordie says the highlight of the NZLSA’s year is the national conference which incorporates the national competition finals and AGM, and brings together law students from all over New Zealand.

That national reach is one of the things he admits will differentiate the new role from what he’s experienced this last year as VUWLSS president.

“I’m looking forward to working with and representing law students from around New Zealand – but one of the biggest challenges will be co-ordinating an Executive which is spread all over the country.”

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National competition success for Victoria students

7 September 2015

Eve Bain & Fayez ShahbazVictoria University of Wellington has won the national final of the Russell McVeagh Client Interviewing competition for the second year in a row.

Eve Bain and Fayez Shahbaz represented Victoria at the New Zealand Law Students’ Association (NZLSA) Conference at the end of August, where they won four out of five of the preliminary rounds before progressing to the finals.

The pair were up against the University of Canterbury in the final—the topic of which was described by one of the Russel McVeagh partners, who judged the competition, as the hardest and most complicated problem she had read.

The topic of the final was about a woman who ran her own company that specialised in crafting water sculptures. She had built water features for two parties—one in her personal capacity and the other in her company capacity. She also had issues with her supplier giving her the wrong sized pipes. An earthquake struck, causing the two features to burst and cause extensive damage. The woman wanted advice about what to do.

Fayez says the problem raised issues relating to company law, breach of contract, tort law (negligence, and the tort of Rylands v Fletcher in particular) and conflicts of interest (can only represent her in one capacity—as the company or personally).

Eve and Fayez will represent New Zealand at the Louis M Brown and Forrest S Mosten International Client Consultation Competition next year.

Two other Victoria student teams reached the final stage of their competition as part of the NZLSA Conference—Sean Brennan and Teja Kandarpa in Mooting and Lucy Kenner and Kayla Polamalu in Junior Mooting.

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Book launch and international appointments for Associate Professor Petra Butler

3 September 2015

Petra ButlerIn late August, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias launched the second edition of The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990: a commentary, co-authored by Victoria’s Associate Professor Dr Petra Butler and Dr Andrew Butler.

The second edition took two years to write and Petra reflects on the “interesting experience” of looking back to see what has changed over the last ten years.

“There have been some really interesting developments. For example, ten years ago the right to freedom of religion was a right which was not in the forefront of anyone's mind, whereas today (and, we predict for the future) the right to freedom of religion will shape human rights jurisprudence and discourse considerably.

“The right to life has also had a lot of attention lately—ten years ago it was a hardly noticed right in New Zealand.”

As well as successfully launching her book, Petra has been honoured with a number of prestigious appointments in recent months.

She has been appointed to the Advisory Board of Arbitrator Intelligence, joining Victoria alumnus Professor Luke Nottage from the University of Sydney and recent New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law Senior Research Visiting Fellow Gary Born.

Arbitrator Intelligence—the brainchild of Catherine Rogers, Professor at PennState and Queen Mary University of London and New Zealand Law Foundation International Dispute Resolution Fellow 2013—aims to promote transparency, fairness, and accountability in the selection of international arbitrators, and to facilitate increased diversity in arbitrator appointments.

Petra has also been named as a Scholar-in-Residence in the London office of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, a US law firm which boasts one of the world’s pre-eminent international arbitration and dispute resolution practices.

The firm’s Scholar-in-Residence programme invites distinguished academics from all jurisdictions to work on both professional matters and academic projects and to participate in the intellectual life of the practice.

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Invaluable learning and research opportunities in rugby-mad country

3 September 2015

 Matteo Solinas

Despite not having even a vague understanding of the rules, rugby world cup fever gripped Dr Matteo Solinas on a 2003 trip to New Zealand and played a part in his recent return, on the eve of another world cup, to take up a senior lectureship at the Faculty of Law.

“Many things have changed since 2003, including my job. After a number of years in private practice in Milan as a commercial lawyer, in 2006 I emigrated to the United Kingdom to start an academic career.”

That career saw Matteo complete a doctorate at the London School of Economics where he developed research interests in corporate and securities law. Most recently he was a senior lecturer in corporate and financial law at the University of Glasgow’s School of Law.

“Then, at the end of last year, a position in commercial law was advertised at Victoria University which I knew was a prestigious university with a solid international reputation. It did not take very long to decide to apply and, later on, to convince my family that it was a good chance to leave Europe for a while and to try an antipodean adventure.”

Currently teaching LAWS 392 Comparative Corporate Governance, in 2016 Matteo will teach LAWS 121 Introduction to the New Zealand Legal System, LAWS 524 Principles of International Financial Law and LAWS 350 Commercial Law.

Matteo says the chance to undertake legal research outside Europe in a very different economic and cultural environment offers invaluable learning opportunities and new research challenges.

“This is particularly relevant if one considers how New Zealand corporate/commercial law is evolving outside the conventional English legal tradition (eg floating charges) and its framework, now largely shaped by EU regulations. Not to mention the various issues arising from the recent reforms in the area of financial regulation.”

“The hope is that the interaction between different legal and economic traditions will allow me to develop original ideas and perspectives both to critically examine the current New Zealand legal framework and to tackle controversial themes in international commercial law.”

The past month in Wellington has confirmed Matteo’s high expectations of the city and has even offered him a little taste of his home in Italy.

“Despite moving to New Zealand in winter, right in the middle of the second academic trimester, we have quickly settled and started a new family routine. And to my greatest surprise, I found an Italian community here in Wellington and ended up living in Island Bay where, apparently, a group of Italian fishermen from Stromboli established at the end of the nineteenth century.”

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Dame Sian Elias delivers Patron’s Lecture

3 September 2015

VUWLSS Patron's Lecture

Nearly 150 current and former students turned out to hear the Law Students’ Society’s Patron’s Lecture on 18 August, with Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias delivering a speech on the Magna Carta and its relevance to New Zealand Constitution.

Geordie Johnson, President of the Law Students’ Society said the lecture was a great opportunity for law students to get an insight into one of the most prominent legal minds in the New Zealand legal community.

"Dame Sian gave very frank responses to questions which were posed to her and it was fascinating to hear her thoughts on topics ranging from the role of Te Tiriti in New Zealand law making to whether or not New Zealand should have a written constitution."

The annual Patron's Lecture was formally founded in 2009 with the Law Student Society’s Patron either delivery a key note address or inviting a guest speaker from the profession. Previous speakers have included Justice McGrath from the Supreme Court, John Allen as Foreign Affairs and Trade CEO, Justice O'Regan as President of the Court of Appeal and the Hon Chris Finlayson in his capacity as Attorney-General.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer is the current Society Patron.

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Victoria’s contribution to international law recognised

1 September 2015

Professor Campbell McLachlanVictoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law has again been recognised for its global reputation in international law.

Professor Campbell McLachlan QC has been elected to the Institut de Droit International—a scholarly society devoted to the study and development of international law, an honour only bestowed on three other New Zealanders since 1873 including Victoria Distinguished Fellow Sir Kenneth Keith.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Professor Mark Hickford says Professor McLachlan’s achievement is another testament to the quality of Victoria’s academics.

“Professor McLachlan’s appointment to the Institut de Droit International is a significant reflection of the scholarly work he has undertaken at Victoria and of the eminence he has in the field of international law.”

Members are elected on the basis of their notable contribution to scholarly work in the area of international law.

Professor McLachlan has published research into the systemic integration of international law. He co-wrote the first modern treatise on International Investment Arbitration. He is a specialist editor of Dicey Morris & Collins on the Conflict of Laws. His most recent book Foreign Relations Law was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014.

Professor McLachlan says Victoria is a fantastic place in which to study and research international law. “I consider myself very fortunate to be part of such an inspiring community of scholars. I am also honoured to have been invited to join a body that has played such a formative role in the development of the international legal system.”

In 2015, Victoria’s Faculty of Law was ranked 45th in the world in the QS World University Rankings.

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Head Tutor series—introducing Sean Brennan

31 August 2015

 Sean BrennanSean is the Head Tutor for the Law of Torts (LAWS212). He is also experiencing minor celebrity as one of this year’s Know Your Mind students, Victoria’s undergraduate recruitment campaign.

What attracted you to studying law at Victoria?
In my first year I studied towards a Bachelor of Music majoring in Composition and lived at Weir House which was predominantly populated with law students. I developed an interest in what the other law students were studying and decided that I too would study law and continue studying music as well.

What have been some of the highlights and challenges?
The law degree is a very challenging, but highly rewarding, programme of study. I found that the most difficult aspect of the law degree was the 200-level courses in my second year, which are a significant step up from the first-year courses. These courses push you to develop a number of key analytical skills while also encouraging you to think beyond the material presented, to see the wider implications of a particular legal position (particularly in the Law of Torts).

One of this year’s highlights was having my LAWS489 research paper published in the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review. Another great moment was winning the Senior Mooting competition with fellow student Nathalie Harrington.

How have you found your tutoring experience this year?
Tutoring not only gives you the chance to revisit material you’ve previously studied, but allows you to think about it more deeply. It’s also a great way to further develop your communication skills. Tutorials often require the packaging of complex ideas in more clearly descriptive language.

Students also help tutors to learn. They often have questions which pose very interesting challenges to accepted positions of law. Consequently, having an open mind to the views offered in tutorials can help both students and tutors.

What are your plans for the future?
This summer I will be clerking at Russell McVeagh. Other than that, my plans for the future are open. I will see what options are available towards the end of next year when I will (hopefully!) be completing my degree.

Watch Sean’s Know Your Mind story: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/knowyourmind/sean

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Opinion: Powerful statement needed on nuclear disarmament

28 August 2015

Sir Geoffrey PalmerSir Geoffrey Palmer, Distinguished Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law, returned to Hiroshima for the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Surrounded by mountains of thick green bush and magnificent seascapes Hiroshima today does not look like a place visited by a nuclear disaster. It is a modern, attractive city of more than 1.2 million people.

During an official visit to Japan in 1987 Margaret and I received a conducted tour of the Peace Park. At that time New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy attracted admiration in Japan where the media did not think their Government's anti-nuclear policy was as pure as New Zealand's.

I returned this year on the anniversary of the attack for a meeting of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network. This group was established in 2011 by the former Foreign Minister of Australia, Gareth Evans. Thirty-one of us signed on to the Hiroshima Declaration.

The risks posed to the world by nuclear weapons have increased since New Zealand was advancing its anti-nuclear policy in the 1980s.

North Korea's nuclear weaponry causes tensions in South Korea, Japan and between Japan and China. How to ensure that the Korean peninsula is free of nuclear influences remains a pressing issue.

Since our last meeting in Jakarta a year ago, nuclear disarmament has gone backwards. The 9th Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York earlier in the year failed. The world still has 16,000 nuclear weapons and they are strongly concentrated in the Asian Pacific powers, with the United States and Russia having over 90 per cent of the world's stockpile. Further, China, India and Pakistan all have significant and growing arsenals. Some nuclear powers are spending big money updating their nuclear weaponry.

In the spirit of the place where we were meeting, we agreed to support and develop the humanitarian initiative on the nuclear issue that has been growing. It was backed by 155 United Nations members in the General Assembly in October 2014.

The December 2014 Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons swelled further support for that approach. Recollecting the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice our group declared that it is in the interests of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never again used under any circumstances. We also agreed that a new treaty should be drafted, simple, stark and clear.

Our strategy was to break out from the unfortunate paralysis that dogs efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and outlaw their use. Our recommendation was designed to be an advocacy vehicle for governments and civil society organisations in order to reinforce the understanding of catastrophic humanitarian impact of any weapons use.

At the Hiroshima meeting it was hoped that the humanitarian pledge could lead to the negotiation and adoption of a comprehensive and universal nuclear weapons convention, backed by effective verification and enforcement mechanisms absolutely prohibiting not only the use of nuclear weapons but their possession, manufacture or acquisition by any other means by state, or non state actors. There needs to be a commitment to the principle of no first use by all the nations who have nuclear weapons.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation talks in New York broke down in April. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not entered into force.

The complexity of the international agreements that surround the topic means the situation is difficult for anyone to understand. Security experts are talking to each other over a complex web of treaties and doctrines that do not work in a language that people and the media can follow.

But what lay people can follow is the horrendous impact on civilisation if any of these weapons are ever used again. A clear powerful statement that they are unlawful in all circumstances is a good place to start. People everywhere can understand that.

No doubt the nuclear weapons states would not want to sign up to such a convention but given the support for the humanitarian initiative at Vienna, it may be possible to bring heavy pressure on them to finally admit they have weapons they can never use.

I understand 113 countries have signed the Humanitarian Pledge, previously the Austrian pledge, that came out of the Vienna Conference last year. New Zealand is not one of them. Let us hope New Zealand signs up.


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Distinguished alumnus receives further recognition

13 August 2015

Professor Clark Professor Roger Clark—who graduated from Victoria University of Wellington fifty years ago—has been honoured with a book of essays on International Law, Crime and Justice written by 41 global contributors.

For the Sake of Present and Future Generations recognises the contribution by the pre-eminent human rights and criminal law scholar, who played a significant role in international human rights law—especially in helping to establish the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Professor Clark graduated from Victoria in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. He added a Master of Laws in 1967 and Doctor of Laws from Victoria in 1997, along with a Master of Laws and a Doctorate in Juridical Science from Columbia University in New York.  

He has taught at Rutgers University-Camden for over 40 years. In the mid-1980s, he helped shape the discipline of international criminal law that is now taught at the majority of law schools across the United States and is the subject of specialty programmes worldwide.   He has also taught at Victoria. Last year, Professor Clark received an honorary doctorate from Victoria, acknowledging his exemplary commitment to teaching, international public service and research during his career.  

The book is edited by Suzannah Linton, Gerry Simpson and William Schabas and published by Brill. It will be launched in New York in October by another Victoria law graduate and New Zealand Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Gerard van Bohemen. There will also be another event at Rutgers Law School where Professor Clark has taught for over 40 years.

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Privacy laws no longer lost in translation

4 August 2015

Nicole Moreham & Dr Lina Zhou

Nicole Moreham and Lina Zhou with a copy of The Law of Privacy and the Media

Chinese legal experts will be able to get a better insight into privacy laws in the Commonwealth and how they affect the media thanks to a collaboration between a visiting researcher and Victoria Faculty of Law Associate Professor Nicole Moreham.

Dr Lina Zhou, an associate professor at the Communication University of China in Beijing is translating the third edition of The Law of Privacy and the Media, co-edited by Nicole and English High Court judge, Sir Mark Warby.

The book covers all aspects of the English law of privacy that affect the media, including the misuse of private information, breach of confidence, harassment, eavesdropping, data protection legislation and copyright. Its main focus is the law of England and Wales but it also contains sections of New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, US, South African, French, and German law and on the protection of privacy in international instruments. 

“The new edition responds to the continuing expansion of the law of privacy—it has nearly 250 new cases in it—and to public interest events such as the phone hacking scandal in the UK. It also has a new chapter of the law relating to ‘new media’, such as blogs and social networking sites,” says Nicole.

Nicole says Lina approached her about translating the second edition but with the third edition due to be published by Oxford University Press in January 2016, she was able to offer Lina the text for the third edition instead. The translated version is expected to be published by the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) Press in early 2017.

Lina says her interest in privacy protection in the UK was sparked by the phone hacking scandal, which erupted while she was doing her doctoral thesis on media intrusion to privacy.

“I realised that compared to lots of research available in China on US privacy, there was very little about the English approach. When I came across Dr Moreham’s research I became increasingly interested in translating her leading privacy work into Chinese.”

Currently in the midst of translating the book’s 800 pages, Lina admits she has a huge and demanding task ahead. She is expecting the project to take over 12 months.

“Irrespective of the hundreds of pages of text I need to translate, the differences in legal systems, philosophy and cultures will be a challenge. But with China and the rest of the world facing the same problems with privacy, big data, the internet and new media, I am encouraged to do the job well,” says Lina.

“The book will fill in the blanks around privacy protection in England and the Commonealth and will provide new and useful information for Chinese scholars and students.”

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Open house a full house

30 July 2015

More than 6,000 people came through the Old Government Buildings open house during the Capital 150 celebrations on 25-26 July.

Alongside events and exhibits showcasing Victoria’s contribution to the capital, visitors were able to enjoy a tour of the building and a two day ‘tea break’ thanks to the Department of Conservation and inspect the beautiful vintage cars parked outside.

Faculty of Law Distinguished Fellow Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s public lecture on how Wellington became the capital drew a capacity crowd and delved into many of the details discussed in the Dominion Post’s Flashback feature, Happy birthday Wellington, 150 years as a capital city.


Across the city, Wellingtonians came out in their thousands as over 30 of the capital’s institutions opened their doors. At Victoria University’s open house at the National Library, budding young science, engineering, and design enthusiasts flocked to build robots and try out virtual reality headsets. At Parliament, performances by Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music students also drew large crowds.


Old Government Building Capital 150 Celebrations 

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Head tutor series—introducing Joshua Aird

30 July 2015

Joshua AirdOriginally from the far north, Joshua Aird’s fascination with the law and politics brought him to the nation’s capital. He is Head Tutor for Public Law (LAWS 213) and will graduate at the end of this year.

What attracted you to studying law at Victoria University?

Three things, really. The first was the calibre of teaching at the Law School, which is second to none. The second was that I have always been interested in politics, the workings of government and the exercise of public power. Being so close to Parliament and the courts, Victoria was a natural choice. The third was having the chance to study in the Old Government Buildings, I couldn't pass that up.

How have you found your time at the Faculty of Law?

I had my heart set on law since I was in Year 11 at Kerikeri High School. I’m glad to say that it has surpassed my expectations. I think the unique thing about Victoria is the chance to engage with lecturers outside of class and through the many events that are held here. The thing that I most value is the emphasis on critical thinking and on questioning what the law should be rather than just learning what the law is. The extra research and writing, that I have been lucky enough to do through the Honours programme, has made my time at Victoria that much better.

What can you tell us about your experience tutoring?

Every year my passion for tutoring grows. The process of seeing people work through the issues they are having with the course and coming out with a well-reasoned answer is extremely satisfying. When they can understand the material I can see them enjoying it so much more. I hope to continue teaching or tutoring throughout my career.

I also think that my interest in politics and how public power is exercised has intensified since I began tutoring. I’m particularly interested in how the law can be used by ordinary citizens to control the exercise of public power. Judicial review, the Official Information Act and the Ombudsman, to name a few, are extremely powerful tools in the public law toolbox that few people really know about.

What are your plans beyond the Faculty of Law?

All going well with my studies this trimester I'll be starting at Russell McVeagh in the Wellington office, working in the litigation and tax teams with some great people. I summer clerked there during the summer of 2013/14 and it was an amazing opportunity to see what it's like working in a big national firm and the issues they grapple with on a daily basis.

I'm also interested in pursuing some postgraduate study at some stage.

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Launch of new Māori resource

28 July 2015

Māori Language Week is being marked by Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law with the launch of a new bilingual tool unlike anything else produced in New Zealand.

The Legal Māori Resource Hub allows online users such as practitioners, translators, scholars, researchers and other interested people from any discipline, to browse contemporary and historical Māori language texts, look up word meanings, and test new or old Māori words against an enormous document bank.

All of these functions are made available on a user-friendly interface.

The Hub is home to three main resources:
  • an online version of He Papakupu Reo Ture—a Dictionary of Māori Legal Terms
  • the legal Māori corpus comprising thousands of pages of Māori language text dating as far back as the 1830s
  • a corpus browser which allows the user to conduct in-depth and tailored searches of the corpus texts

With these resources the Hub lets anyone explore the specific use of thousands of Māori terms in their historical context within thousands of pages of selectable and browsable texts.

This kind of coordinated and comprehensive search tool has not been publicly and easily available in New Zealand before.

The Hub is the latest output of Te Kaupapa Reo-a-Ture (the Legal Māori Project), released in association with the New Zealand Law Foundation, Victoria’s Office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori) and staff and students at Victoria’s Faculty of Law.

Māmari Stephens, one of the co-leaders of the Project (nō Te Rarawa me Ngāti Pākehā), says: “It is a great feeling to finally be able to make these resources available free to the public, and we hope the Hub can spark ideas for other language initiatives, not only for New Zealand, but beyond.”

The Legal Māori Resource Hub is available at: http://www.legalMāori.net/

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Professor of Law appointed Queen’s Counsel

27 July 2015

Professor Richard Boast QCProfessor Richard Boast from Victoria’s Faculty of Law is one of three lawyers to be appointed Queen’s Counsel this year.

The appointments of Margaret Casey and Victoria alumnus Mark O’Brien alongside Professor Boast were announced on Friday by Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson QC.

“The appointment to the rank of Queen’s Counsel recognises independent advocates who have excelled at the highest level of law,” says Mr Finlayson.

“The appointment of three Queen’s Counsel this year marks a return to more typical appointment numbers after two years of increased numbers due to the absence of appointments from 2008 to 2012.

“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,” Mr Finlayson said.

Appointments of Queen’s Counsel are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General and with the concurrence of the Chief Justice.

Professor Boast graduated with a Master of Arts from Waikato University and a Master of Laws from Victoria. He was admitted to the Bar in 1979.

He specialises in property law and Maori 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.

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Losing the summer for the love of law (and Wellington!)

23 July 2015

Estair and family

Estair with her partner Kevin and sons Luke and Henry

Leaving a hard-earned summer in Toronto is one of the only pangs Estair Van Wagner has experienced since moving to Wellington with her young family to take up a lectureship at Victoria University’s Faculty of Law.

An expert in property and land use law, Estair is teaching LAWS 301 Property Law and LAWS 318 Resource Management Law. She is also completing her doctorate from Osgoode Hall Law School, looking at the role of participation in land use and environmental decision-making.

Estair completed her studies in political science, law, and environmental studies in Canada before serving as a judicial law clerk at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. She then worked as a labour and human rights lawyer, an academic researcher, and a political advisor at the local and federal levels in Canada.

She believes Canadians feel a natural affinity with New Zealand and that there are many areas of the law in which we look to each other.

“I think this is particularly true in terms of environmental law, natural resource management and the rights of indigenous peoples, all areas of particular interest to me as a researcher, a lawyer, and a human being.”

Estair says the decision to move to Wellington was an easy one.

“We visited New Zealand in 2013 and it was one of our favourite places on the trip—my partner and I actually turned to each other riding up the cable car and said, ‘how could we live here?’. When the posting came up for a Property Law position at Victoria, we jumped at the chance to make it happen.”

As she looked further into Victoria’s Law School, Estair was impressed at the support for research and the strength of the faculty in a variety of areas of law and policy.

“It was clear that this research-supportive environment would be a wonderful place to be an early career academic and I was delighted to have the opportunity to teach in my areas of interest.”

Since moving to Wellington Estair says she and her family have been struck by how warm, welcoming and generous her new colleagues have been. Now that they are here they continue to be amazed at how kind and helpful everyone is in Wellington.

“We knew from our visit that it is a beautiful city, but now that we have had the chance to explore many more areas we can’t believe our luck! We love the small size of the city and the access to the outdoors. Of course, being Canadian we also love this version of winter that never dips below zero!”

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800 years of Magna Carta

1 July 2015

The following commentary is provided by Dr Carwyn Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki), a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law.

Last week marked 800 years since King John was forced by a group of barons at Runnymede to accept some constraints on his authority and affix his seal to the document that became known as Magna Carta.

In the eight centuries since then, Magna Carta has been invoked as a symbol of liberty and justice by champions of human rights such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. It has been used to establish pillars of the criminal justice system such as trials by jury and the writ of habeas corpus—that prevents people being held in custody indefinitely without being brought before a court to determine whether their detention is lawful.

Last week our MPs celebrated the anniversary of the Great Charter, venerating it for “paving the road to modern democracy” and forming “the foundation stone of the freedoms and liberties we now enjoy in New Zealand.” Bold claims. This Magna Carta thing must be important.

And indeed it is. But not just because it is very old. We should remember as we celebrate this significant anniversary that the importance of Magna Carta is not to be found in a single moment of time in 1215. In fact, quite a lot of the original document relates quite specifically to the time it was signed and deals with concerns that are peculiar to medieval England. That does not mean that Magna Carta is not relevant to us in New Zealand in the twenty-first century, but simply that, as a former Dean of Harvard Law School once noted, “Magna Carta is not primarily significant for what it was but rather for what it was made to be”. The importance of Magna Carta comes from the life that we give to its principles.

Some core principles of Magna Carta remain very important to our law and constitution. What is probably the most famous clause of Magna Carta is still on the statute books in New Zealand. It states:

NO freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either justice or right.

Though only a few short lines, there is a lot in this clause and even more that has been extrapolated from it. But perhaps most importantly it sets out a principle of equality before the law. It makes clear that every person is entitled to justice and to have his or her rights recognised and that the law will apply equally to all without exception.

This principle of equality before the law can be seen reflected in virtually all of the instruments we would see as being foundational to our understanding of human rights today—the Bill of Rights of 1689 in Britain, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789 in France, the US Bill of Rights of 1791, and, more recently, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

Magna Carta stands as a powerful symbol for the principles of justice and equality that underpin modern human rights. The challenge of Magna Carta is to ensure that our society adheres to those principles, no matter what issues we confront. If a casino is granted permission to operate more pokie machines in exchange for building a convention centre, is that equality before the law? If our security services are indiscriminate in the way they collect data about electronic communications, are we free from arbitrary exercise of state power? If we truly want to celebrate Magna Carta, these are the kinds of questions we should be asking. Because the value of Magna Carta comes not from Runnymede in 1215 but from how we choose to give life to its principles today.

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International discussions on international intellectual property and trade

30 June 2015

Professor Susy Frankel recently travelled to Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore to present at forums on international intellectual property and trade.

The first forum in Jakarta brought together the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law (NZCIEL) and the Universitas Pelita Harapan’s Center for International Trade and Investment (UPH CITI) to co-host a focus group discussion, during which Professor Frankel—as Director of the NZCIEL—was one of three guest speakers.

The invitation from UPH CITI—which is funded by the World Trade Organization—came from Victoria PhD graduate Michelle Limenta who was a post-doctoral research fellow of NZCIEL.

Delegates at the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law and the Universitas Pelita Harapan’s Center for International Trade and Investment focus group discussion 

“This forum was the first opportunity to create a link between the two centres and to meet and share our knowledge,” says Professor Frankel.

The focus group was a platform for Indonesian regulators, practitioners, academics and other interested parties to discuss the protection of traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

“Indonesia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and one that faces huge issues with protecting cultural identity. New Zealand has considerable experience and knowledge to share in this area.”

Professor Frankel then travelled to Bonn where she spoke on copyright regulation to the ALAI International Congress. ALAI is Association Littéraire et Artistique International, which was founded in Paris in 1878 by Victor Hugo.

From Bonn she travelled to Geneva where she spoke as an independent expert to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Her lecture opened a two-day programme of discussion with delegates and indigenous peoples relating to negotiations on treaties for the protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources.

Professor Frankel’s lecture framed the key tools used in protecting intellectual property across borders and how that could relate to protecting—and stopping the misappropriation of—traditional knowledge across borders.

“Internationally, there is a concern about how intellectual property law interferes with, or inadequately protects, traditional knowledge and trans-border issues are particularly complex” says Professor Frankel.

“As trade increases globally, more indigenous or local communities are seeking to protect their cultural assets and to gain benefits from people from international trade that exploits such assets.”

On her return to New Zealand, Professor Frankel participated in a roundtable discussion “Regional Economic Integration in Asia: Trade, Intellectual Assets, and Geopolitics” at the Singapore Management University, School of Law’s Applied Research Centre for Intellectual Assets and the Law in Asia.  

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New book on global intellectual property issues

30 June 2015

Cover of Professor Frankel's book

Professor Frankel's latest book “Test Tubes for Global Intellectual Property Issues: The Small Market Economy” was published last week by Cambridge University Press.

Small market economies provide a valuable insight into how a country might balance competing interests in global intellectual property. As developed countries that are also net-importers of intellectual property, small market economies have similar concerns to some developing countries. This duality of developed and developing country interests has resulted in some innovative ways of calibrating laws so that they both support national economic and social needs and honour international commitments.

In this book, Professor Frankel uses examples from the small market economies of Singapore, New Zealand and Israel to address global intellectual property issues. Those issues include approaching treaty interpretation to assist both in implementation of obligations, utilisation of flexibilities and effective dispute resolution, the links between trade and innovation, when and how patent and copyright law can be flexible, the importance of trade marks to small businesses, parallel importing, and the protection of traditional knowledge.

“Test Tubes for Global Intellectual Property Issues: The Small Market Economy”is available through www.cambridge.org


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Capital 150 - Victoria University Open House at Old Government Buildings

30 June 2015

Old Government Buildings

Victoria University is joining the capital’s 150th birthday celebrations with a weekend of events on 25-26 July.

A programme of public lectures, performances, debates and exhibitions will give visitors to the Old Government Buildings a taste of Victoria’s contribution to the capital city.

Events include a public lecture from former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer on why Wellington was chosen as the capital; a talk on George von Zedlitz, one of Victoria University’s founding professors; poetry readings; theatrical performances and displays.

The Department of Conservation>will also be hosting a “two-day tea break” at the Old Government Buildings, taking you to a time of flared trousers, clipboards and long (very long!) morning teas. Upstairs travel further back in time in the Cabinet Room, and enjoy a vintage car display outside the front entrance.

Elsewhere in the capital, Victoria University will also be contributing to 150 celebrations.

At the National Library, science, engineering, architecture and design experts will showcase some of their innovative projects, from 3D printing capabilities to the architecture of the future.

At Parliament, Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music students will be performing in the Parliament Banquet Hall and in the West Foyer. 

Click here for more information and programme updates.

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Head tutor series—introducing Sophie Davis

23 June 2015

Head Tutor Sophie Davies

Keen to study law in the heart of the capital, Sophie Davis decided a move to study in Wellington was the right choice during her last year of high school. This is her second year as Head Tutor for Contract Law (LAWS211) and fifth year studying at Victoria.

How have you found your time at the Faculty of Law?

I wasn’t sure whether law would be for me, but I really haven’t looked back since arriving at Victoria. While the readings and exams can undoubtedly be challenging, I’ve found law to be engaging and very interesting. I like how, because law encompasses so many areas, it’s possible for everyone to find their niche and topics that interest them. A highlight for me has been picking my own topics to research further as part of the Honours programme. Studying in such a grand building like Old Government Buildings is an added bonus!

What can you tell us about your experience tutoring?

Before taking LAWS211 as a student, I didn’t have much of a commercial background so I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I was completely wrong! I found that contract law is all about the people involved and using problem-solving skills to resolve interesting and complex disputes.

Tutoring has been great. I found tutorials to be a life-saver during my 200-level courses and I enjoy helping other students with what can be quite tricky concepts. Tutoring keeps you on your toes as you never really know what questions students will ask. I’ve personally learnt a lot more about contract law from tutoring and I get to work with an awesome group of tutors.

What are your plans for the future?

Assuming I have calculated all of my points correctly, I will finish studying my Bachelor of Law with Honours and Bachelor of Arts just before Christmas. I have a bit of travel planned for January and then I will start working for Bell Gully in Wellington early next year. Long term, I’m not too sure where I want to end up. Although I would love to either work or do further study overseas at some point.

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The possibilities of law

23 June 2015

Judge Carrie Wainwright was the guest speaker at our May graduation ceremony.

As part of her address, she tells the graduates to enjoy the thought of the possibilities that comes with having a law degree.



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In the news

2 June 2015

Bevan Marten on Fair Go

May was a newsworthy month for the Faculty with academics and fellows hitting the airwaves on a range of different topics.

Lecturer Bevan Marten demonstrated the breadth of his expertise–speaking to Radio New Zealand’s Bryan Crump about 19th century sailing ships, shipwrecks, abandoned seafarers and vessels in distress (listen here) and to Fair Go about the Master Build guarantee and insurance law (view it here).

Distinguished Fellow Sir Geoffrey Palmer featured on TVNZ’s Sunday programme discussing his former colleague’s fight for the right to die on her own terms (view it here). Sir Geoffrey worked with Lecretia Seales both at the Law Commission and in private practice, and describes her as a “law reformer par extraordinaire”.

The New Zealand Centre for International Economic Law’s Inaugural Senior Visiting Research Fellow Gary Born attracted a wide range of media attention when he visited in early May. This included speaking to Brian Fallow, the New Zealand Herald’s Economics Editor (read his opinion piece here) and appearing on Radio New Zealand’s Sunday programme (listen here).

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Head tutor series—introducing Luke Archer

26 May 2015

Luke Archer


Luke Archer is the 2015 Head Tutor for Introduction to New Zealand Legal System (LAWS121) and Legal Research, Writing and Mooting (LAWS 297). He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria in May and is looking forward to starting as a solicitor at Buddle Findlay next year.  

What attracted you to studying law at Victoria University?
I've always wanted to study law and it was a happy coincidence that New Zealand's best Law School was right on my doorstep—I grew up in the Hutt Valley and didn't want to move away to go to university!  

The Law School’s location—right by Parliament, the Beehive and the Courts—definitely didn't hurt either. The Law School has been absolutely fantastic and the staff are wonderful. The student body works hard and has a great 'community' feel to it. When I graduated in May, it was great to walk across the stage to shake the Chancellor’s hand and hear 350 fellow students in my year group cheering—that was a real highlight!  

Any other highlights?
Another highlight has been seeing the students I've tutored progress through Law School and achieve highly themselves.  

I’ve been involved in the skills competitions offered by the Faculty in conjunction with the Law Students’ Society and local firms. I was lucky enough to win both Negotiation and Client Interviewing in 2014 and have had the chance to compete at a national and international level. 

Law School is all about finding your niche, finding things that you enjoy and are passionate about—whether that's competitions, tutoring, community volunteer work, specific areas of law or courses, a part-time job in the field. You have to find what you enjoy and use it to remind yourself why you're studying law in the first place.  

What are your plans for the future?
I'll be tutoring until LAWS297 finishes in August and will be completing my Professionals at the same time. I don’t start at Buddle Findlay until March 2016, so between those dates....who knows! I'm planning to do a bit of travel and pick up some work overseas if I can—I'm currently trying to work out where I want to travel and work!

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Indigenous Law Speaker Series 2015

1 May 2015

The Māori Law Review begins its third annual Indigenous Law Speaker Series in May, after the encouraging response from both contributors and audience members.

Dr Carwyn Jones, co-editor of the Māori Law Review, has been thrilled with the range of contributors over the last two years—judges, visiting academics, established and emerging lawyers and legal scholars.

“The Indigenous Law Speaker Series is an opportunity to engage students, faculty members, and practitioners in discussions about current legal issues affecting Māori or other indigenous peoples.”

This year’s series kicks off on 7 May with Horiana Irwin-Easthope and Natalie Coates, two young Māori lawyers who have both completed post-graduate study at Harvard and are now working at a firm which explicitly aims to support the advancement of the Māori economy and the future wellbeing of Māori.

Horiana (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rakaipaaka) and Natalie (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Tūwharetoa (ki Kawerau), Tūhourangi, Tūhoe) will present "Ko te manu e kai ana I te mātauranga—nōnā te ao: overseas postgraduate reflections".

“I expect this will be an inspiring session to start our 2015 series,” says Dr Jones.

On 21 May, Paul Beverley from Buddle Findlay will speak, followed by JD Stout Fellow Kim Workman on 28 May.

The speaker series runs on Thursday 7, 21, 28 May from 11.30am–12.30pm
Moot Room GB340, Faculty of Law, Government Buildings
RSVP to toni.love@Māorilawreview.co.nz  
For more information see http://maorilawreview.co.nz/community

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Head tutor series—introducing Richard Taylor

30 April 2015

Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor is Head Tutor for Property Law (Laws 301). He came to New Zealand from Canada in the mid-90s to work as a teacher for a year or two, but Aotearoa has now become home for him and his family. He decided to study law because he wanted a new intellectual challenge, and describes it as one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

What have been the highlights during your time at the Faculty of Law?
I have loved my time here—it has given me a new lease on life, so to speak (and as Head Property Law tutor I now understand a little about how leases actually work, in a legal sense!). 

In terms of highlights, being a tutor has been great as it allowed me to combine skills and experience from my previous career along with a subject that I love. Also working as the Pasifika Law Student Coordinator last year was a great privilege.

Tell us about your tutoring experience so far.
Tutoring is one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. As part of my own day-to-day study, I spend a lot of time researching, reading and writing on my own. Tutoring is a great way to be able to interact with students and other tutors who are all very clever and motivated individuals.

Before I took the class myself I knew nothing about Property Law, but I really enjoyed the class and found it fascinating—and I still can’t explain why! Fourteen years in a classroom put me in a reasonable position to take on the task of Head Tutor.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope to finish my Bachelor of Law with Honours with the best results that I can, and find a job in an area of law that interests me. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to have a second go at a career. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my wife and family.

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From Switzerland to New Zealand

30 April 2015

A PhD candidate from the University of Zurich, with a particular interest in the legal relationship between international treaties and general international law, has spent the last six weeks at Victoria’s Faculty of Law.
Mirja Ciesiolka’s PhD research focuses on the legal relationship between the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and international human rights law.
“Given its far-reaching ambition, the UNCAC opens a field of tension between the security of societies on the one hand and rights of individuals on the other. Aspects of the UNCAC are inconsistent with international obligations on human rights.” says Mirja.
“Focusing on the relationship between the UNCAC and international human rights law, my thesis suggests how norm conflicts between different law regimes can be dealt with.”
It was Professor Campbell McLachlan’s research on the principle of systemic integration that drew Mirja’s attention to the Faculty. Mirja says the Faculty’s diverse research environment, and New Zealand’s common law tradition given her civil law background were also draw cards.

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Deconstructing Climate Change

28 April 2015

Deconstructing Paris quote postcardA group of students from the Faculty of Law have set themselves the task of getting to the bottom of an agreement that could set a timetable for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Their initiative ‘Deconstructing Paris 2015’ is about just that—deconstructing the draft negotiating text for COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris this December. The aim of this conference is to reach agreement between 197 states on how to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020.

Tom Stuart, one of the students leading the initiative, says their central focus will be on analysing the draft text, as it is this which will form the backbone for any climate agreement that comes out of Paris.

“We want to dissect and explain the draft text to make it more accessible to the public and to outline the likely direction of the agreement. We also plan to highlight where non-commital language is being used that might enable states to avoid taking meaningful action on climate change.”

The students have launched a website www.paristext2015.com to document their analysis and commentary and to provide legal resources about the Paris climate talks to the public, media, policy makers and politicians – both in New Zealand and abroad.

Steering Group member Catherine Iorns Magallanes, senior lecturer at the Faculty, says more than 40 students have put their hands up to be involved, and alongside writing substantive commentaries on the text, have designed and developed the website and are managing social media, PR and events for the initiative.

“I am amazed at their great ideas and enthusiasm. Since the website went live, offers of assistance are already coming in from outside the Law School and even outside of Wellington.”

A public launch for Deconstructing Paris will be held on Friday 1 May at 5pm in the Salmond Room (room 219), Old Government Buildings. All welcome.

www.paristext2015.com twitter: @paristext15

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeconstructingParis

Email: deconstructparis2015@gmail.com


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Funding makes continued research on Native Land Court possible

28 April 2015

Richard BoastProfessor Richard Boast has been awarded funding from the Law Foundation to support research for volume three of his series of edited judgments of the Native Land Court.

The Native Land Court holds great historical and cultural importance in New Zealand history, but its decisions have never been reported formally before with headnotes and commentary, says Professor Boast.

The third volume of the series will cover the period from 1909 to 1953 ending with the enactment of the Māori Affairs Act 1953, which brought in a number of important changes. 

“It will include a number of important, and still unreported, decisions, including the Native Land Court decisions relating to Lake Waikaremoana, the Rotorua lakes, Mokoia Island, the ownership of the bed of the Whanganui River and various cases relating to ownership of the foreshore in Auckland and Northland,” says Professor Boast.  

It will also include material on the Urewera consolidation schemes and on a large number of land blocks in the Tokaanu area.  

Volume three, like the other two volumes, will include detailed case notes and a full introduction and commentary.  

“A significant number of important cases have been located already and the task of transcribing the judgments—some of them very lengthy—is progressing well,” says Professor Boast.

He hopes the books will form a significant addition to New Zealand’s stock of reported case law dealing with Maori land issues.

“The first volume has already become a standard reference work and was cited extensively by the Supreme Court in an important recent case dealing with the ownership of the bed of the Waikato River.”

“This is part of an ongoing project which in turn originated from the Lost Cases research project of a few years ago.” 

Professor Boast says he is grateful to the Law Foundation for its generous support of his project, which also has the support of the judges of the current Maori Land Court. 

Volume one of the series, published in 2013, covers the period from 1862 to 1886. Volume two—which runs from 1887-1909—and will be published in May. All three volumes are published by Thompson Reuters/Brookers, and include maps and photographs as well as the introduction and the edited cases.

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EC Adams prize-winner

22 April 2015

Nathalie HarringtonWe are proud to announce that Nathalie Harrington has won the EC Adams Memorial Prize in Land Law. This prize is awarded for the best piece of writing showing excellence of achievement in the study of Land Law, by a student enrolled for the Degree of Bachelor of Laws (or Bachelor of Laws(Honours)) of any New Zealand University. The prize was this year judged by Professor Toomey of Canterbury University.

Nathalie’s paper “Te Akau Block 1865 – 1913: A Case Note” was written for LAWS316 - Māori Land Law, taught by Richard Boast. The paper was nominated by Carwyn Jones.

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Law students contribute to prestigious international research project

21 April 2015

Students from Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law are contributing to a Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government research project which is evaluating the status of violence against women.
Law schools from around the world have been approached by the Harvard team to research the perspective of individual countries on violence against women.
Law students Jasmine Harding and Mollie Matich are leading a team of students which is involved in the Wellington Community Justice Project (WCJP)—an extra-curricular student-led programme—which aims to improve access to justice and legal services in the community, and to provide law students with an opportunity to gain practical legal experience.
Jasmine and Mollie are the Human Rights leaders of the WCJP, and together the group has chosen to focus on domestic violence because of its prevalence in New Zealand.
It’s hoped that this global piece of research will help create a new protocol for violence against women, says Jasmine.
“The research project came from the widely-held view that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is not effective enough, as well as a desire for an international instrument that’s from the perspective of a victim.”
As part of the project the team will talk to a number of groups and individuals with expertise, experience and opinions on the state of violence against women in New Zealand since the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act 1995.
“This information will help us draw conclusions around potential gaps in the legislative framework and the implementation of anti-violence measures in New Zealand during the last two decades,” says Mollie.
The work will be cited in a video conference presentation to the Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government at the end of April. It will also be incorporated into wider research spanning multiple countries, with the intent of minimising gaps in the international legal framework to reduce violence against women all around the world.
“It’s hoped that this global piece of research will be used to present a case at the United Nations to establish a new convention on CEDAW,” says Jasmine.

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Overlooked law requires rentals to be free of dampness

17 April 2015

A law, developed in the 1940s to protect people from living in unhealthy homes, could be used to require landlords to provide housing that is free from dampness, according to researchers from the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington.

The paper is the first to look at how cases of housing quality are decided on in the Tenancy Tribunal and is co-authored by Dr Mark Bennett from the Faculty of Law at Victoria University, and Dr Sarah Bierre and Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman from the Public Health Department at the University of Otago, Wellington.

The authors reviewed a year's worth of cases about housing quality from Wellington and Dunedin that had been published online by the Ministry of Justice.

In most cases where a tenant complained of damp or mouldy housing during a Tenancy Tribunal hearing, the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947, which requires a home to be free from dampness, was overlooked, according to the research published this month in the New Zealand Universities Law Review.

Dr Bierre says every winter we hear stories and see media reports about people living in cold, damp and mouldy housing. “Tenants are able to ask for improvements to be made, but it was surprising to find that even if they make it to the Tenancy Tribunal the dampness laws available to protect tenants are often not used.”

Dr Bennett says the housing regulations could be used to require damp housing to have insulation, adequate heating, or ventilation installed if it is clear that is what is needed for a person to be able to live in a house that is free from dampness.

“These improvements are a cost to the landlord but they add value to the house and are things that homeowners regularly do when they move into a new home.”

Dr Bierre says there had been cases where the dampness standard had been applied.

"A renter living in a damp and mouldy house took a case to the Tenancy Tribunal and, in the circumstances, the landlord was required to install ventilation fans and fix rising damp. In this case the judge found that a ‘renter must be able to use and live in a house in a normal way, without mould developing’."

Dr Bierre says that, according to the law, if this can't be done then it is the landlord's problem.

“In this case the landlord appealed to the District Court where the Tenancy Tribunal judgement was upheld.”

Dr Bennett says: “If a person is living in a damp, mouldy house there is a breach of the existing standards. It is important that landlords comply with the minimum standards we currently have until we can introduce a warrant of fitness for rental housing that clearly sets out what is required for a house to be habitable.”

Professor Philippa-Howden Chapman and her team have been working on a warrant of fitness for housing, which has been trialled in five cities around New Zealand.

The Housing Improvement Regulations date back to 1947 and come under the Health Act 1956 which is required to be complied with as part of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

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Bilateral arbitration treaty and Rainbow Warrior focus for Visiting Research Fellow

16 April 2015

Gary Born

A proposed bilateral arbitration treaty and the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior will be the focus of a visit from world leading international arbitrator and litigator Gary Born next month.

Mr Born has been awarded the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law’s (NZCIEL) Inaugural Senior Visiting Research Fellowship for 2015 and will visit New Zealand from 1 to 9 May.

While in New Zealand, Mr Born will discuss his recent initiative—a Bilateral Arbitration Treaty regime—with government representatives and businesses. This is aimed at addressing the adverse consequences that some businesses are facing because of the structure of the international litigation system, which is often time-consuming, expensive and inefficient.

He will also give a number of public lectures, co-hosted by Victoria University of Wellington, including a panel discussion on the Rainbow Warrior, 30 years since its sinking. Mr Born acted as counsel for Greenpeace in the Greenpeace v France arbitration, which concluded with an award of damages in favour of Greenpeace. Other panellists include Dr Gerard Curry (counsel for Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur), Sir Kenneth Keith, Bill Mansfield, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Dr Penelope Ridings.

Professor Susy Frankel, Director of the NZCIEL, said the Centre’s inaugural fellowship recognised the significant contribution Mr Born has made to international commercial arbitration and litigation.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for those interested in international dispute resolution to hear from someone of Mr Born’s calibre—and to consider his insights from the New Zealand perspective.”

More information on Gary Born’s visit and his Bilateral Arbitration Treaty regime is available at http://www.victoria.ac.nz/law/centres/nzciel/news


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Law Faculty News - March 2015 edition

9 April 2015

Please click here to read the March 2015 edition of our Faculty News.

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Longest serving female academic in Faculty recognised

31 March 2015

As part of the recent Staff Excellence Awards at Victoria, the longest-serving female academic was recognised for her 25 years' service to Victoria’s Faculty of Law.
Associate Professor Elisabeth McDonald’s association with the Faculty at Victoria began in 1985, when she enrolled for the Bachelor of Laws, which she finished in 1987 as one of three Senior Scholars to graduate in May 1988, along with Matthew Palmer QC.
After an interlude in Washington DC (as part of the Jessup Moot team) and Michigan, where she completed a Master of Laws, Elisabeth returned to Victoria in June 1989 as a temporary lecturer, a position that was made permanent in January 1990—the year in which she had her first child.
She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in January 1995 and to Associate Professor in January 2005.
Elisabeth worked at the Law Commission on secondment for two years, on both the women’s access to justice project and evidence law reform—an area in which she has subsequently published extensively—both generally, and in the application of that law to the particular problems associated with sexual violence.
Highlights of her time at the Faculty include successfully introducing a special topic course—Feminist Legal Theory—at her first faculty meeting, a white-water rafting trip with Neil Cameron and Graeme Austin, editing three special issues of the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review and being involved in a curriculum review with Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
She stifles laughter when her evidence students refer to her as a “learned author” as part of their oral arguments. In her most recent course evaluations for her evidence course, a student remarked that she had “excellent fashion sense” too.

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Strengthening Polish-Kiwi connections

31 March 2015

Peter Fraser’s invitation to Polish refugee children at the end of World War II has been inspirational for many people, not least of whom Polish PhD student Joanna Siekiera.
Joanna is currently in New Zealand undertaking research for her doctoral thesis on New Zealand’s role in the South Pacific’s regional legal and political institutions.
Asked “Why New Zealand?” she is very clear.
“About the time I was picking my thesis topic for my Bachelor’s degree I came across the touching story of the Polish children being offered a second home here in New Zealand. They grew up here, were educated here, helped establish this new sovereign country.”
Joanna says their story is basis of contemporary diplomatic relations between Poland and New Zealand.
Fast-forward seven years and she is one of a few European specialists in the field of diplomatic law, Polish foreign relations policy and the legal frameworks for co-operation among the states of the South Pacific region. She is currently based at the University of Wroclaw, Poland, with the Chair of International and European Law.
During her three months in New Zealand, Johanna has been meeting with academics, diplomats, government ministers and representatives and members of the Polish community, and giving lectures on her research. Her time at Victoria's Faculty of Law has been under the supervision of Professor Tony Angelo.
Joanna says she is grateful for the opportunities she has been given here in New Zealand, including this week’s public lecture for The New Zealand Association for Comparative Law. She is also very optimistic about the future of New Zealand—Polish relations.
“It’s not only about bilateral relations, but relations between two regions—Poland at the heart of Europe and New Zealand as representative of the South Pacific. By building cooperation with each country, we build relationships with these wider regions as well.”

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Two new LAWS electives added to 2015

23 March 2015

Trimester 2
LAWS 363 Securities Regulation (TRF 11:30-12:20) - Victoria Stace

Summer - Jan/Feb
LAWS 318 Resource Management Law (to be timetabled) - Estair van Wagner

The courses are now available on course add/drop or send sharon.watkins@vuw.ac.nz an email with your full name and student ID.

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Successful launch for the 2015 Wellington Community Justice Project

20 March 2015

The 2015 WCJP Executive:
Back row (L–R): Gabrielle Groube, Mariah Hori te Pa, Tom Nelson, Yousuf Ahmad;
Middle row (L–R): Jasmine Harding, Mollie Mattich, Fady Girgis, Rebecca McMenamin
Front row (L–R): Nathalie Harrington, Tina Chen-Xu, Asaph Verner, Fayez Shahbaz.

This month, the Wellington Community Justice Project held its 2015 Launch, recruiting students for an exciting year of projects ahead.
The Wellington Community Justice Project is an extra-curricular student-led society—for second-year law students and above—which aims to improve access to justice and legal services in the community, and to provide law students with an opportunity to gain practical legal experience.
The project consists of four specialist teams: Human Rights, Education, Advocacy and Law Reform. Each year, the teams run three or four different projects which students volunteer to be a part of.
Last year, the Education team in conjunction with Community Law Wellington, visited high schools, alternative education providers and university halls of residence around Wellington as part of their Rights Education Project. The purpose of the visits was to deliver modules teaching teenagers about their various legal rights around tenancy, drugs and alcohol, sex and consent, and more. The team also hopes to develop a cyber-safety module about what rights teenagers have on the internet.
The group also works very closely with Community Law Wellington, offering support with all types of tasks from note-taking to giving advice and support.
This year joint Student Directors Nathalie Harrington and Fayez Shahbaz are looking forward to an action-packed year, after a fantastic response to their launch which saw over 200 student volunteers sign up—a significant increase from last year.
Their guest speaker at the launch event was human rights lawyer Claire Achmad, who has worked as an in-house counsel for the New Zealand government, as a Child Rights and Research and Advocacy Officer for UNICEF, and as a Senior Advisor to the Chief Human Rights Commissioner and Executive Director of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.
The Human Rights team are currently contributing to a Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government research project evaluating the global status of violence against women. More information about this project will be in the April issue of Faculty News.

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Victoria team wins Red Cross International Law Moot in Hong Kong

16 March 2015

Pictured (L–R): Joanna Mossop, Teja Kandarpa, Conor Donohue and Alberto Costi.

We are extremely pleased to announce that the Victoria University team of Conor Donohue and Teja Kandarpa (coached by Faculty members Joanna Mossop and Alberto Costi) have won the 13th Red Cross International Law Moot in Hong Kong.

Conor and Teja faced the University of Hong Kong in a close final, and the competition from the other 23 teams was fierce.

In addition to winning the final, Conor was named as best mooter of the competition and Teja was named third best mooter. The team also picked up a second honourable mention for their memorial for the defence.

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Austrians bring research down under

11 March 2015

New Zealand’s approach to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the focus of two Austrian researchers who made the Law School their base earlier in March.

Eva Nachtschatt and Alexander Lamplmayr, from the University of Innsbruck, are undertaking a comparative research project looking at how Austria, Germany, New Zealand and Australia have each put into practice key aspects of the convention.

“We are specifically looking at articles 4.3 and 33.3 which require that people with disabilities are actively involved and consulted when it comes to developing and implementing legislation and policies relating to the Convention,” says Eva.

Associate Professor Petra Butler from the New Zealand Centre for Public Law arranged their visit and set up meetings with a range of organisations including the Human Rights Commission, the Office for Disability Issues and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Alexander says New Zealand was an obvious choice for their research project as it was one of the leading countries in negotiating and ratifying the convention in 2008. From here they will head to the University of New South Wales to enable a comparison of two common law systems.

Coming from a town surrounded by mountains, Eva and Alexander have enjoyed their brief stay in the compact seaside capital.

“Wellington is a beautiful city with its old houses up next to skyscrapers. And working in this beautiful old building that’s also a museum – it’s very impressive,” says Eva.

The pair hope to complete their research in 2016.

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"New Zealand's Defective Law on Climate Change"

16 February 2015

These notes are a summary of Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s public lecture entitled “New Zealand’s Defective Law on Climate Change”, held at Victoria’s Faculty of Law on Monday 16 February.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer speech notes - pdf (476 KB)

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New lecturer joins Faculty

16 February 2015

Edward Clark

Eddie Clark, a Victoria alumnus, returns to Wellington to join the Faculty of Law as a lecturer mid-February.

After graduating from Victoria in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours, Eddie worked for a number of years at a large corporate firm in Wellington, specialising in commercial public law and says this experience is what piqued his interest in administrative law.

Following a year-long break during his time in practice, Eddie completed his Master of Law at the University of Toronto. His research focused on the possibility of extending procedural fairness to the making of delegated legislation.

After two further years of practice, he returned to Toronto to commence his doctoral studies, which he hopes to complete shortly. His doctoral work builds on his Master’s and argues that one of the motivating factors underlying administrative law is a concern for a legitimate administrative state.

“I also argue that one of the implications of this concern with legitimacy must be an expansion of procedural fairness to cover ‘legislative’ executive decision-making.”

Eddie says that this work, and his practice experience, are really all about a fascination with the minutiae of government: how the everyday practices of the administrative state affect people and businesses.

“I look forward to continuing to puzzle out the role of the law in mediating this relationship between state and citizen at the coalface of government when I start at Victoria.”

“I am very excited to be joining the outstanding community of public law scholars at Victoria.”

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Town and Gown for summer

5 February 2015

Summer Scholars at Woodward St Chambers

Pictured (L–R): Jason McHerron (Woodward Street Chambers), Professor John Prebble; Olivia Miller; Aynsley Wood, Hamish McIntosh (Woodward Street Chambers), Dion Blummont and Silvia Rodriguez Atencio.

A summer project designed to publicise more widely research by members of Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law, has involved Faculty staff and students working more closely with Woodward Street Chambers.

The project, led by Professor John Prebble and Māmari Stephens, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty, involved student interns preparing abstracts of scholarly papers by members of the Faculty of Law for posting on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN).

Victoria’s Faculty of Law has its own page on the network, allowing the work of Faculty members to be accessible to a wider international audience, which have been published in a variety of global journals.

The four interns who volunteered to assist the project are law students Aynsley Wood and Dion Blummont; arts and design student, Olivia Miller; and Silvia Rodriguez Atencio, a lawyer from Argentina who is now working in Wellington.

Woodward Street Chambers provided working space and oversight for the interns, which is greatly appreciated by the Faculty, says Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Professor Tony Smith.

“Projects like this allow our staff and student to develop closer relationships with the Wellington law profession, and it showcases Victoria’s unique position in the heart of Wellington’s legal and political district.”

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Law students enter mediation competition in Paris

4 February 2015

Mediation team at the Law School

Left to Right: Senior Lecturer Grant Morris with students Georgia Cameron and William Steel.

For the first time, Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law will be represented in the annual International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Commercial Mediation Competition.

Two students, Georgia Cameron and William Steel, are winging their way to Paris this week to compete against 65 other teams. The competition, now in its 10th year, is the world’s only moot devoted exclusively to international commercial mediation.

The contest will involve 120 mediators and corporate representatives from five continents and more than 40 countries. Each university competes in at least four preliminary round mediations, after which the competition enters a knock-out phase.

The students will be accompanied by their coach Dr Grant Morris, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, who runs a third-year dispute resolution course. Georgia and William were outstanding participants in Dr Morris’ class last year.

“The course includes a practical element in mediation as well as theory so part of the preparation was already done,” says Dr Morris.

As well as regular practice mediations with Dr Morris, the students have received support from some of Wellington’s leading mediators, including Geoff Sharp, who was voted New Zealand Mediator of the Year by the New Zealand legal profession at the 2012/2013 Law Awards, and Annabel Shaw, a mediator for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

“We’ve been very lucky to have these fantastic practitioners around Wellington who’ve been more than willing to give up their time after work,” says Georgia. 

After weeks of hard work, William feels they are as ready as they’ll ever be.

“We just want to go over there and focus on enjoying it now,” says Georgia.

William is a final year student studying for an LLB (Hons) and BCom degree majoring in economics and finance, and Georgia will complete her LLB and BA degree in politics this year.

The team has received financial support from Fairway Resolution and the Association of Dispute Resolvers (LEADR).

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Law Faculty News - January 2015 edition

2 February 2015

Please click here to read the January 2015 edition of our Faculty News (pdf).

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SUNY Buffalo Law School visit

30 January 2015

Meredith and her students with Justice Glazebrook

Associate Professor Meredith Kolsky Lewis visited the law school for two weeks this month with 11 of her students from the SUNY Buffalo Law School (where she is also Associate Professor). The visit was in connection with Meredith's course New Zealand: International Economic Law in Context. While in Wellington, the group met with many Vic colleagues; officials from MFAT, MPI, NZTE and the Law Commission; Justice Glazebrook at the Supreme Court (pictured); and legal practitioners and consultants. They also visited the Tapu Te Ranga marae in Island Bay; Dry River vineyard in Martinborough; and Zealandia.

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Dean Knight's PhD

29 January 2015

Dean Knight in front of the London School of Economics 

Just before Christmas, Dean Knight submitted the PhD thesis he has been working on at the London School of Economics and Political Science over the last few years. He still needs to complete his viva (oral examination and defence), which is scheduled for May.


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