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Cullen: Speech at Terence Arnold's appointment

Speech Notes

19 May 2006

Hon Michael Cullen

Speech at the appointment of Terence Arnold as Judge of the Court of Appeal

May it please the Court

It gives me great pleasure to appear on behalf of the government on the occasion of Justice Arnold’s appointment to the bench and to convey the government’s congratulations and best wishes to Your Honour and to Susan and the rest of your family on your appointment.

Life on the bench will expose Your Honour to the full breadth of the law. However, Your Honour’s academic achievements and career to date show that your knowledge of the law is already extensive, covering the full range from criminal to commercial law.

You graduated with a BA/LLB (Hons) in 1970 from Victoria University. In 1972 you completed an LLM with distinction, also at Victoria. Your success at Victoria University is evident from the fact that while studying there you were appointed a Junior Lecturer at the Law Faculty.

In 1973, on completion of your studies in New Zealand, you travelled to New York to pursue your interest in criminal justice at New York University. At NYU you completed an LLM in criminal justice and you worked as Assistant Director of the “ABA Criminal Justice Standards Evaluation Project” which was run through the Universities’ Institute of Judicial Administration.

After a year in New York, you relocated to Canada, where you spent four years as a lecturer with a focus on criminal law. You began in Ontario at the University of Windsor where you taught criminal law, criminology, family law and legal process. After two years in Ontario you went to Nova Scotia where you taught at St Mary’s University and Dalhousie University.

In 1978, after being away for five years, you returned to New Zealand, and to Victoria University. There you took up a position as a Senior Lecturer teaching criminal law, legal systems and an honours seminar.

In 1982, you left academia to begin a long and very successful association with Chapman Tripp, becoming a commercial litigation partner in 1985.
During that time, you took one year’s leave to return to Canada and to your academic roots as a visiting professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

In 1994, after nearly twelve years at Chapman Tripp, you commenced practice as a barrister sole and shortly thereafter you were appointed a Queen’s Counsel. I will leave it to those who will speak after me to elaborate on your private law career and your outstanding contributions during those years to the legal profession as a whole. I intend, instead, to focus on the years when I came to know Your Honour. That is, when in 2000, you were appointed Solicitor-General.
The importance of the role of the Solicitor-General in New Zealand cannot be underestimated. The Solicitor-General is both legal adviser to the government and its representative in court.

As the government’s chief legal adviser, Your Honour has been asked for advice on the full spectrum of public functions. As noted by your predecessor, Justice McGrath in an address to the Institute of Public Law:

“this is a zone where the law and policy meet, and indeed at times collide. While government interests must always be kept in mind, the highest value is in maintaining the integrity of the law”.

As Solicitor-General, Your Honour has always maintained the integrity of the law and the independence and impartiality of the law officers. You have been an excellent advocate on a number of challenging cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Privy Council and Supreme Court. Such cases traverse the full range of law from taxation and the Commerce Commission to human rights and the criminal law.

Some have exposed you to front page headlines such as Zaoui and the contempt of court litigation against a Parliamentary colleague of mine whilst others, such as Taito, may take on renewed interest for you as you consider criminal appeals on the bench.

However, being the Solicitor-General is not confined to the glamour of the court room. During Your Honour’s tenure as Solicitor-General, you have served three Attorneys-General and I speak for all of us when I say that your advice and counsel have always been greatly appreciated and accepted. I also understand that the chief executives of our government departments have come to rely on your sound advice.

During your distinguished term as Solicitor-General, your Honour was also instrumental in assisting with the establishment of the Supreme Court through your chairmanship of the Ministerial Advisory Group which considered and advised the government on the structure and purpose of the new court.

Throughout, we have benefited from your knowledge and legal acumen, delivered with an appreciation of practical realities and a gentle sense of humour.
Your legal skills, even-temper and humour have also ensured that you will be deeply missed by those fortunate enough to have worked for you at Crown Law.

You have always led by example and you, like your predecessor before you, Justice McGrath, have instilled a high standard of practice within the office.
Although some in the office will always be disappointed that you never prevailed upon your son’s band, Pluto, to play at the Christmas function, I am sure Your Honour’s colleagues on the bench look forward to you providing the music at this year’s do.

Throughout your legal career, you have consistently demonstrated the personal qualities, the judgment, the independence and the professionalism required of those on the Bench. Judicial office is a form of public service that demands much of its holders, but which is vital to the good health of a society such as ours.

The Government has no doubt whatsoever that you will discharge your new role with distinction and that you will derive great satisfaction from doing so.
Once again, Your Honour, I congratulate you on your appointment on behalf of the Government and wish you, Susan and your family all the very best on this occasion.


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