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Lay appointments to High Court

Lay appointments to High Court

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson today announced the appointment of three new lay members of the High Court under the Commerce Act. They are Professor Stephen King of Blackburn Australia, Professor John Small of Auckland and Mrs Rhonda Smith of Templestowe Australia.

Wellingtonian Michael Copeland has also been appointed for a further term.

Lay members help the Court in cases involving appeals from decisions of the Commerce Commission and in other matters under the Commerce Act.

Margaret Wilson said the new appointees bring the pool of lay members from which the Court can draw to eight. “There needs to be a reasonable pool of experts available because there are relatively few economists with the requisite qualifications and experience in New Zealand,” she said. “For this reason they tend to be vulnerable to a conflict of interest if called upon to sit as a lay member.”

The new Australian appointees are from Melbourne University which is considered the pre-eminent university on competition matters in Australasia, Margaret Wilson said.

Attached – biographical information


Professor Stephen King Graduated with a PhD from Harvard University in 1991. His specialisation was in Applied Microeconomic Theory, and Industrial Organisation and Regulation. He has worked at the Australian National University and is now the Professor of Management (Economics) at Melbourne University.

Professor King has been a consultant to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission since 1996 and has been associate editor with The Australian Economic Review since 1993.

Further information on Professor King can be found at

Professor John Small An economist and consultant whose teaching and research work at Auckland University spans theoretical and applied econometrics, regulatory economics and investment theory, and taxation.

He is Director of the Centre for Research in Network Economics and Communications at the University of Auckland, and a past Director and Principal Consultant for the Networks Economics Consulting Group (NECG). The NECG advises corporates and governments on economic aspects of regulation, competition policy and trade practices.

Professor Small has previously provided advice to the New Zealand Commerce Commission, Transpower and NZ Post, among others.

Mrs Rhonda Smith A half-time Senior Lecturer at Melbourne University. In her consultancy practice she specialises in trade practices issues.

Between 1995 and 1998, while on leave from Melbourne University, Rhonda Smith was full-time Commissioner with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Between June 1999 and December 1999 she was an Associate Commissioner.

She was also a member of the Federal Government’s Copyright Law Reform Committee for a period of four years from 1995. Further information on Rhonda Smith can be found at

Mr Michael Copeland Has worked for the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and served as a member of the Commerce Commission between 1990 and 1994.

He is currently the joint Managing Director of Brown, Copeland & Co, a firm of consulting economists based in Wellington.

Michael Copeland has a Masters degree in economics, and has written extensively on commercial law and economics, and on the agriculture, energy and transport sectors.

Current lay members – Professor of Economics at Victoria University, Wellington, Lewis Evans; Henry Ergas, an economist from the Australian Capital Territory; Auckland economist Kerrin Vautier; and Otago University Professor Martin Richardson.

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