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Counsel Assisting appointed for victims’ families

Hon Christopher Finlayson
Attorney-General
5 September 2011

Counsel Assisting appointed for victims’ families

Christchurch lawyer Marcus Elliott has been appointed Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure Caused by the Canterbury Earthquakes, with a specific focus on representing the interests of victims' families, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said today.

Marcus Elliott is a barrister at Canterbury Chambers in Christchurch practising in civil litigation and public law. He is a member of the Council of the Canterbury Branch of the New Zealand Law Society and the faculty of the New Zealand Law Society Litigation Skills Course. He is former chair of the Board of Community Law Canterbury. In addition to his legal qualifications, he has an MBA.

“Marcus Elliott has previously appeared at inquests for some families who lost loved ones in the 22 February 2011 Canterbury earthquake,” Mr Finlayson said. “He is aware of many of the issues involved in the inquiry. I have full confidence in his ability to represent and assist the families who lost loved ones in the earthquake in February.”

His role will include answering any questions from families regarding legal or evidential matters; assisting families who wish to provide information to the Commission; making submissions to the Commission on behalf of families, and appearing at the Commission’s public hearings to represent the interests of the families.

“Both the families and Royal Commission share a common interest in securing the truth on the reasons for the various building failures that occurred in Christchurch,” Mr Finlayson said. “The appointment of a third counsel to assist the Royal Commission, with a specific focus on families, recognises that common interest.”

The Government agreed to provide extra legal assistance after meeting with families of earthquake victims in Christchurch last month. Mr Finlayson met with families again last night to discuss the appointment.

Family and Community Liaison Officer Kate Collins will continue to provide information and support as appropriate to bereaved families, their friends and the community.

ENDS

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