Environment Judges

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Chief Environment Court Judge D A Kirkpatrick

Judge Kirkpatrick had, prior to his appointment to the Court in February 2014, been a Barrister sole since July 2004. He specialised in administrative and public law generally, and resource management law in particular. He appeared regularly before consent authorities, the Environment Court, and the High Court. He also appeared before the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council, and the Supreme Court.

From 1994 to 2004 Judge Kirkpatrick was a partner in the Local Government and Environment practice area of Simpson Grierson. In that role he was the primary legal advisor to a number of local authorities in the Auckland region in regard to public administration, the regulation of public utilities and resource management. He has also acted for a wide range of corporate clients, incorporated societies and individuals in those fields. In 2008-09 he acted as counsel assisting the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

He has presented numerous conference and seminar papers relating to resource management and local government law, and is a contributing author of the chapter ‘Land Use and Subdivision – Resource Consent Procedures, Designations and Appeals’ in Environmental and Resource Management Law, now in its fourth edition.

Appointed Head of the New Zealand Environment Court on 8 July 2020.

Alternate Environment Judge L J Newhook

Judge Laurie Newhook retired as Chief Environment Court Judge in July 2020, having headed the New Zealand Environment Court from August 2011 and been a Judge of the Court from 2001.  Prior to that he was counsel and had over thirty years of advocacy experience to that point, with particular emphasis on environmental matters, land, property, and maritime laws.  He graduated LIB (Hons) from Auckland University in 1972.

Judge Newhook has presented at many national and international conferences on the themes of environmental adjudication and the use of technology in adjudicative settings and has written multiple papers on the subjects.  Judge Newhook has hosted international delegations to his Court from many parts of the World; chaired and presented at the ‘International Forum for Environment Judges’, Oslo, Norway, June 2016; and Auckland, April 2017, and chaired and addressed plenary sessions at IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquia and other international conferences.

Alternate Environment Judge C J Thompson

Judge Craig Thompson was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1974, and was then engaged in private practice in Blenheim and Wellington as a general litigator but with some emphasis on mining and water and soil issues. He was appointed Crown Counsel in the Crown Law Office in 1983 and Deputy Solicitor-General for New Zealand in 1985. He was a member of the Legislation Advisory Committee from its inception until his appointment as a District Court Judge in 1992. He was the District Court representative on the Criminal Practice Committee, 2000-2003; from 1997 to 2003 he was a joint author and editor of the Criminal Jury Trials Benchbook for the New Zealand Judiciary; and is the Consulting Editor (with Judge T M Abbott) of Abbott and Thompson District Courts Practice (Criminal) published by LexisNexis. He was appointed an Alternate Environment Judge in 2001 and a full-time Environment Judge in August 2003.

Alternate Environment Judge B P Dwyer

Judge Brian Dwyer was appointed to the Environment Court on 1 September 2006.

Judge Dwyer was admitted to the Bar in 1973 and is based in the Wellington Registry of the Environment Court. Before his appointment, he was the Marlborough District Law Society's President from 1990 to 1991. He also served on the Marlborough Health Trust, St Mary's School Board of Trustees and the Marlborough Rugby Football Union Executive. As counsel to the Marlborough District Council since 1992, his work involved him in all aspects of resource management practice. He has also been an independent hearings commissioner for local authorities in Kaikoura, Nelson and Marlborough.

Environment Judge J A Smith

Judge Jeff Smith was appointed to the Environment Court in July 2000. He is based in Auckland. He was born in Rotorua and completed his education at Kamo High School, Whangarei. He holds an LLB from Auckland University, obtained in 1981, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators London (associate from 1986) and a Foundation Associate of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand. He practised in Tauranga from 1981, first with Sharp Tudhope, and from 1995 until his appointment in 2000 as a Barrister sole.

He is a very keen piano player and has played professionally and semi-professionally since his youth. The two main bands he has played with were Jazz-A-Plenty, a Dixieland Jazz Band, and a Christian Gospel Band, Crosstalk.

Environment Judge J E Borthwick

Appointed as Environment Judge in November 2008, Judge Borthwick, who has a BA (Hons) in Geography and LLB (Hons), was admitted to the Bar in 1994. Following admission she worked for six months with Rob Harrison, a Criminal Barrister, before joining Saunders and Co and being admitted into partnership in 1998. In June 2003 Judge Borthwick joined Young Hunter as an Associate leaving the firm in 2007 to commence practice at the Bar when she joined Canterbury Chambers.

Judge Borthwick's practice has, particularly over the last 4 years, been principally focused on resource management with extensive involvement in water rights issues throughout Canterbury. Other relevant resource management work included acting as a hearing commissioner in respect of several marine farm and water right applications in Canterbury.

Environment Judge J J M Hassan

Prior to his appointment in 2013, Judge Hassan was a partner in Chapman Tripp specialising in resource management and environmental law. He was previously in-house solicitor for the Ministry of Works and Development (1985-88) and the Ministry for the Environment (1988-91), where he was principal legal adviser during the development of the Resource Management Act (RMA). In 2009 he was appointed as a panel member by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee to audit and advise on the drafting of the Resource Management Amendment Act 2009 and he was a reference group member advising the Environment Minister on RMA reform proposals in 2011.

As well as law reform, he has represented government agencies, industry, local government and community groups before councils, the Environment Court, Boards of Inquiry and the High Court in relation to major infrastructure works, plan changes and consent and appeal hearings. He is the founding co-author of Brookers Resource Management.

Environment Judge M J L Dickey

Admitted as a barrister and solicitor in March 1983, Judge Dickey was a partner at Brookfields Lawyers from 1996 and was a member of the firm’s Board.

In practice (until her appointment) Judge Dickey specialised in all aspects of resource management and environmental law, including extensive experience in advising on infrastructure projects and planning instruments for a number of local authorities.

She acted for Auckland Council providing advice and attending hearings in relation to the Auckland Unitary Plan from 2013.

Environment Judge P A Steven KC

Judge Prudence Steven KC was sworn in as an Environment Judge and District Court Judge on 15 February 2021. Prior to appointment, her practice focused on resource management and local government/public law, including advising on irrigation proposals, water quality and quantity issues, hydro-electricity, mining, landscape and biodiversity issues, adventure tourism, coastal marine activities, retail, commercial and residential greenfield developments, heritage, forestry and infrastructure projects and appearing at all levels of the courts.

Judge Steven was appointed the in-house legal counsel for the Christchurch City Council early in her career. She was a founding partner of the firm Goodman Steven Tavendale Reid in 2001 before becoming a barrister sole in Canterbury Chambers in 2008. She was made a Queen’s Counsel in 2014.

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