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News Archive 2011

December 2011 Graduation

Professor John Dawson and Professor Bruce Harris who are both Otago graduates had an LLD by examination conferred on 17 December 2011.

This is a great accomplishment. The Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree is a higher doctorate and one of the University's most prestigious qualifications. It is awarded only to individuals who have published original contributions of special excellence in the history, philosophy, exposition or criticism of law

This is the first time in the history of the University that two have been conferred at the same time and only 3 have been conferred previously.

The LLD history in New Zealand goes back to the late 19 Century when Otago was part of the University of New Zealand, and then from 1962 when Otago University became independent.

In a unique event for the law faculty, Abby Suszko also graduated on December 17 with a PhD in Law, with her main supervisor, Professor John Dawson. Both grew up in Dunedin and took their first degrees at Otago.

Xiju Zhao also graduated with a PhD in Law and Simon Connell with an LLM with distinction.

Congratulations to Professor Henaghan on the publication of his book

Health Professionals and Trust: The Cure for Healthcare Law and Policy, Mark Henaghan (Routledge, 2011)

This book examines the issue of health professionals and trust comparatively in a number of countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The book draws upon historical analysis of legislation, case law, disciplinary proceedings reports, articles in medical and law journals and protocols produced by management teams in hospitals, to illustrate the ways in which there has been a discernable shift away from trust in healthcare professionals. Henaghan argues that this erosion of trust has the potential to dehumanise the unique relationship that has traditionally existed between healthcare professionals and their patients, thereby running the risk of turning healthcare into a mechanistic enterprise controlled by a 'management processes' rather than a humanistic relationship governed by trust and judgement.It is an invaluable resource for students and scholars of medical law and medical sociology, public policy-makers and a range of associated professionals, from health service managers to medical science and clinical researchers.

Here is a link to the book on the Routledge website.

Fulbright Scholarships

3 University of Otago researchers, including husband and wife, Professor Andrew Geddis and Ms Jacinta Ruru, of the Faculty of Law have received Fulbright senior scholar awards to study in the United States next year.

Professor Geddis, who gained a master of laws degree from Harvard University as a 1997 Fulbright New Zealand graduate student, will return to the United States to conduct a socio-legal study of freedom of expression in New Zealand. He will also examine formal legal restrictions that have constrained people wishing to engage in dissenting speech as well as the cultural and historical background to such laws. His research will be undertaken at both Arizona State University in the city of Tempe and at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ms Ruru has been awarded the 2012 Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Senior Scholar Award to research indigenous challenges to Western property law, at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and Arizona State University in Tempe. She will focus on how property law could be "recalibrated to better accommodate indigenous claims to Crown or publicly owned lands and natural resources", award officials said.

This award offers up to $US25,000, plus travel expenses and insurance, to undertake research in the United States in a field of indigenous development.

Afternoon Tea with the Attorney General

Faculty of Law staff, postgraduate and honours students were entertained and informed by the Hon Chris Finlayson at afternoon tea in the Faculty on Saturday 8 October.
Accompanied by National MP Woodhouse, it quickly became evident that the Attorney General would facilitate a most enjoyable and informative event.

The Attorney General shared his insightful and at times, acerbic views around legislative reform during his term.

He said that he has most enjoyed the Treaty settlement legislation and has been honoured to have been a part of the process which has helped accelerate settlements which may otherwise have taken decades longer.

He also expressed great interest in the students' areas of research and has invited several students to send their completed theses to him.

As well as being a list member of Parliament, Chris is also the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and the Attorney General.


Otago Law students, Aimee Gulliver and Brooke White, headed to Cambodia in late November for two months to work with underprivileged children. The first month was be spent at an orphanage called the Center for Children's Happiness in Phnom Penh, which looks after children who have previously been living in a nearby rubbish dump. Following this, they went to Siem Reap to volunteer at a primary school called Krosang Roleung where they taught English to the pupils.

Aimee and Brooke raised funds for their trip. All the money they raise went to providing school uniforms, supplies, and other necessities to these children. Cambodian law makes it compulsory for children to wear uniforms to attend school. Each uniform only costs $10 NZD, but many families can't afford this and their children are denied an education.

Pacific Legal Issues Week 12 - 15 September

The Pacific Islands Law Students' Association and the Faculty of Law, supported by the Pacific Islands Centre hosting the Inaugural Pacific Legal Issues Week from 12 - 15 September 2011.

This exciting initiative highlighted issues of significant importance to the Pacific Islands Community. Please see attached poster for details.

Yvonne Daly: Terrorism and Criminal Procedure

Dr. Yvonne Daly, Socio-Legal Research Centre, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University spoke to the faculty on 9th September on "Terrorism and Criminal Procedure: The 'Trickle-Down' Effect of Ireland's 'Troubles'".

Polly Higgins Open Forum and Public Lecture

The Faculty of Law and the Research Cluster for Natural Law Resources was pleased to host Polly Higgins at an Open Forum and a Public Lecture on Thursday 1 September. Polly argued that the law of ecocide will provide the missing legal framework to ensure shared-nation responsibility for financing of humanitarian and environmental aid and assistance to ecocide-territories, and impose on Member states the collective legal duty 'to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom' in terms of the Preamble to the UN Charter 1945. Polly Higgins' book, Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet (John Reed Books) is the non-fiction winner of The People's Book Prize for 2011.

Paul Roth Commissioned to Write Report on Privacy Concerns relating to NZ Post Marketing Survey

Otago University law professor Paul Roth, Privacy Law expert, concluded in his recent report that New Zealand Posts recent marketing survey was in contravention of Privacy Principles under the Privacy Act.

The 2009 survey, sent to 800,000 letterboxes and via email, asked a series of questions covering areas including income. While New Zealand Post says it was doing nothing improper in selling information garnered in a wide-ranging public survey of personal data, the Privacy Commissioner after conducting a review of marketing and law experts' reports has concluded the survey was a systematic and large-scale breach of privacy principles.

Paul Roth concluded in his report that the survey appeared to have breached "each of the four information privacy principles that relate to the collection of personal information".

"As a matter of policy, it seems undesirable that there should be such a systematic large-scale breach of the information privacy principles, whether or not this attracts any liability under the Privacy Act. It not only undermines and devalues the importance of protecting people's personal information ... but it brings the efficacy of the act into question.

For full story see:

Sir Ian Barker Published Article Award for 2010

Congratulations to Jessica Palmer for receiving recognition for her article, "Theories of the trust and what they might mean for beneficiary rights to information". Jessica has won the Sir Ian Barker Published Article Award for 2010.

Richard Sutton Memorial Prize in Restitution Launch


Kensie Sutton and Struan Scott

In a function on Wednesday 27 April the Faculty of Law, University of Otago, celebrated the launch of the Richard Sutton Memorial Appeal. The Appeal is in honour of the late Emeritus Professor Richard Sutton – a man of great brilliance and of equal kindness, who touched many lives. Speakers at the Function included the Dean of the Law Faculty, Professor Mark Henaghan, Sir James (Bruce) Robertson, a retired judge of the NZ Court of Appeal, and Justice Paul Heath.

Richard's contribution to the development of the law, legal education, and to the knowledge and skills of his students was immense. He took up his professorship at Otago in 1980, a position he held until his retirement in 2004. During this time he spent two periods as Dean of the Faculty of Law (1981-1984 and 1998-1999). He also served as a Law Commissioner from 1992-1997. In this role he worked on many projects, which have led to considerable improvements in the Wills Act, the law of damages, the law of evidence, the law of contract, property law and fraudulent conveyancing.

From 1996 onwards Richard worked on the Te Matahauariki Project with colleagues at the University of Waikato to help develop Māori legal systems recognized in New Zealand law. He was instrumental in helping Mäori to incorporate their customs and values into the law of passing on property within families.

To date the appeal has raised sufficient funds to support the payment of an annual prize – the 'Richard Sutton Memorial Prize in Restitution' – to be awarded to the top student undertaking the Faculty's Law of Restitution Paper in any given year. The Law of Restitution was one of Richard's key research interests.

The appeal is also raising funds to support the establishment of a scholarship available to students undertaking the LLB or LLB(Hons) degree at Otago. The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of both academic achievement and financial need, reflecting Richard's concerns for equity and justice.

For more information about this appeal you can contact the Campaign Manager on +6434795264 or email

Congratulations to Jacinta Ruru for being awarded the Carl Smith Medal for best researcher in the University in the first years of their career

Jacinta Ruru was appointed Lecturer in Law at the Law Faculty (her first career appointment) on 1 February 2002. Jacinta has a record of outstanding scholarly achievement based on her work at Otago University. References from experts in Jacinta Ruru's field are testament to the impact Jacinta's scholarship is making nationally and internationally. 

The fact that Jacinta Ruru has already won a major distinction for her scholarship is further testament to the exceptionally high quality of her work. In 2006 Jacinta was awarded a University of Otago Early Career Award for Distinction in Research.

The areas of law in which Jacinta Ruru specialises (comparative Indigenous peoples law relating to the environment and family and Maori land law) are nationally and internationally significant.

Obituary - Judge Michael Radford

Staff at Faculty of Law were saddened to hear of the passing of Judge Michael Radford who died on the 16 March 2011 at the age of 63.

Michael passed away after two years of illness.

Michael graduated with an LLB from the University of Otago in 1970. After he was admitted to practice, he worked in Invercargill for Cruikshank, Pryde & Hay. His practice largely consisted of both civil and criminal litigation. After becoming a partner in Gallaway Son & Chettleburgh he left to form his own practice in 1980..

In 1985 Michael joined Aspinall Joel & Co. and later became a Principal in that firm (as Aspinall Joel Radford Bowler); he spread his time between the Timaru and Dunedin office.

His legal career spanned well beyond his practice however. Michael served as president of the Otago District Law Society; he served on the council of the New Zealand Law society and the New Zealand Law Society ethics committee. He was also a member of the Legal Aid Board.

In 2006 Michael became a District Court Judge. In 2007 he moved to serve at the Wanganui District Court. He continued as a Judge until late in his life including adjudicating over looting cases from the Christchurch earthquake in September.

Outside of his professional life Michael was passionate about motorcycles and classical music.

He is survived by his wife Sally and son Charles and we offer our sincere condolences.

Faculty of Law, University of Otago, Professor Paul Roth Advises EU on Privacy Law

The work of Professor Paul Roth of the Faculty of Law, University of Otago, was acknowledged in a recent European Union legal opinion.

Roth had been commissioned by the European Commission to write a report on the adequacy of New Zealand’s privacy law in terms of the European Union Directive on the processing of personal data. The report was written under the aegis of the Centre de Recherches Informatique et Droit of the University of Namur, Belgium.

The working party established under the European Union Directive adopted its Opinion 11/2011 on the level of protection of personal data in New Zealand on 4 April 2011, in which it acknowledged that it “draws heavily on Professor Roth’s report”.

After the opinion was released, Marie Schroff, the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, issued a press release (13 April 2011) in which she welcomed the European Union working party’s recognition that New Zealand’s privacy law satisfies the adequacy requirements of the Directive on the processing of personal data. She commented, “This is a key step towards obtaining a formal legal finding from the European Commission that New Zealand is a safe destination for European companies to send personal data for processing. The finding will be significant for cross-border trade and will open doors for New Zealand business.”

Otago Law Graduate gains recognition from UNCTAD

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently recognized the work of five former LLM students for work they did in connection with a seminar on International Competition and Developing Countries.

The five students, who earned their LLM degrees recently were a kind of mini United Nations themselves, each hailing from a different country: Simon Peart (New Zealand), Felipe Serrano Pinilla (Colombia), Denise Junqueira (Brazil), Tone Oeyen (Belgium), and Apostolos Giannakoulias (Greece). They are thanked in the official UNCTAD document that incorporates their work. All were also invited to attend the 6th Review Conference of the UNCTAD competition principles, which was held in Geneva in November, where competition law officials from around the world assembled and where the document including their work was adopted. Simon Peart and Felipe Serrano attended.

Simon graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago with a BA and LLB(Hons) in 2006. He was top in his LLM class at NYU in Trade Regulation.

The Faculty of Law was very pleased to host the 2011 Hands on Science ‘Law Snack’.

Five senior law students presented a series of mini seminars on current topics, showcasing the interface between law and science.

The Law snack focussed on the need for a communicative interface between scientists and lawyers. Increasingly, developments in the scientific world provide new technologies, which raise often-complex legal ethical and moral issues.

Group discussions on the human genome project; oil drilling proposals (and oil spills!); climate change and liquor reform provided many different viewpoints on how the law ought to regulate such matters.

Role play of an actual legal case on conjoined twins proved to be fertile ground for debate when the issue was thrown open to the floor – proving that Law and Science are by no means mutually exclusive study options!

We really enjoyed having the students here and commend them for their active participation.