Talks to NZLS

History and Background of the Society

The New Zealand Lawyers' Society is an informal body which was established in March 1993 to promote the interests of New Zealand law and lawyers in England. We have a membership of approximately 300-400, comprising solicitors, barristers, academics, corporate, banking and business lawyers, and students. The Lawtalk report of our inaugural meeting gives more background as to the formation of the Society.

The 2016 Hamlyn lectures will be delivered by Dame Sian Elias, Chief Justice of New Zealand. You are warmly welcomed to attend. There are three lectures, the first two of which are in Cardiff and Exeter, the last in London. The theme will be Golden Threads and Pragmatic Patches: Fairness in Criminal Justice. Full details of the lectures – and how to register (no charge) – may be seen at

Lecture 3 - The Most Important of all Judicial Functions – will be most convenient for our members:

Chair: Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC
Date and time: Thursday 17th November, 18.00
Venue: Old Hall, The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London WC2A 3TL

Our Chief Justice was born in London and grew up in Auckland after her parents emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1950s.  In a 2005 article the Herald reported that as a teenager she was “… determined not to be ordinary or, as one friend recalls her saying, not to be "an Austin 1100, suburban housewife".  Dame Sian graduated LLB from Auckland University in 1970 and JSM from Stanford University in 1972. She was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1988.  From 1984 to 1989 she was a Law Commissioner. In 1995 she was appointed a High Court Judge and on 17 May 1999 was appointed Chief Justice. 

In her final lecture Dame Sian will address current challenges to the discharge of  the determination of the guilt or innocence of persons accused of criminal offences  -  “the most important of all judicial functions”.  She will consider separately the responsibilities of trial judges and appellate judges in an evolving criminal justice system.

The Hamlyn lectures arose from a modest trust established by the will of the Emma Warburton Hamlyn.  Ms Hamlyn was born in Torquay in 1860.  Her father was a local solicitor. She travelled widely in Europe, where as well as acquiring broad interests in literature and art and music she developed a keen appreciation of the value of English law. This was reflected in the wording she devised directing her trustees to “… apply the income in the furtherance by lectures or otherwise among the Common People of this Country of the knowledge of the Comparative Jurisprudence and the Ethnology of the Chief European countries including our own and the circumstances of the growth of such jurisprudence to the intent that the Common People of our Country may realise the privileges which in law and custom they enjoy in comparison with other European Peoples and realising and appreciating such privileges may recognize the responsibilities and obligations attaching to them.”

Both Ms Hamlyn and the lectures with which she is associated became famous by accident.

The first Hamlyn lectures, published as Freedom under the Law, were delivered by Mr Justice (later Lord) Denning in that year and were widely acclaimed. Despite the meagre resources of the trust, a series of eminent judges, professors, and practitioners have been eager to follow his example. Almost overnight the Hamlyn lectures became the most prestigious series of law lectures in Britain…   (Professor Chantel Stebbings, University of Exeter Law School)

We hope to see you on 17 November.


We are always on the look out for potential speakers. Please let the Society know if you are aware of any in the UK, or proposing to visit.

In addition to holding functions for its members the Society tries to assist New Zealand lawyers to find employment, helps English lawyers who are inquiring about emigrating to New Zealand and fields a significant number of enquiries by English people about legal problems they have in New Zealand, and for its members. This site provides information and guidance in relation to most of the foregoing areas. If you are a New Zealand lawyer in the UK, or if you are contemplating coming to the UK, we hope you find this site useful, and look forward to your joining the Society and coming to our functions.

If you would like to get in touch, just send us an email.


Talks to NZLS

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