Justice Sir Robert Chambers

24 May 2013
Justice CHambers3

Members of The University of Auckland’s Law Faculty have joined the judiciary and legal profession in paying tribute to Justice Sir Robert Chambers who died on 21 May 2013 at the age of 59.

Dean Andrew Stockley says: “Rob Chambers was not only one of the Law School’s most distinguished alumni, he was a great friend to the Law School over many years. He has attended many of our events, sat on our most recent appointments panel, and contributed to the life of the Law School in innumerable ways. We are all going to miss his interest in everything going on, his great company and his wonderful sense of humour.”

Justice Chambers graduated from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours in 1975. This was followed by three years studying at Oxford University, where he graduated with a doctorate in 1978. On his return to New Zealand he lectured Torts at the Auckland Law School for several years while beginning in practice. Throughout his career he made a valuable contribution to legal writing, contributing chapters to Salmond and Heuston’s Law of Torts and to the Law of Torts in New Zealand.

He became a barrister sole in 1981 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1992. He became a Judge of the High Court in 1999 and a Judge of the Court of Appeal in 2004. Justice Chambers was appointed to the Supreme Court in December 2011.

Law Faculty members remember Justice Chambers as a man of great ability and character. Professor Peter Watts recalls:

“Rob was a welcome presence at the Law School throughout my nearly 30 years here. He loved to amuse and be amused; mischievous sometimes, but always benevolent. In 2011 when I promoted the FMB Reynolds Scholarship for postgraduate study by New Zealand lawyers at Oxford University, Rob was the very first person to donate, making suggestions as to who else might, and asking how progress was going. He cared greatly about universities, and not just the two he had attended.

“He was a superb contributor at a meeting; able immediately and fluently to draw all the threads together and to suggest a solution where none was obvious,” says Peter Watts.

Professors Paul Rishworth and Ron Paterson share strong memories of Justice Chambers from their high school and university years.

“Rob was a little ahead of me at school where he stood out even then, not just for his supreme intelligence, but also for his unfailing kindness and good humour. As a lawyer, these combined with another almost indefinable quality - good judgment. Together these made him an exceptional person, and a great judge, who will be missed hugely,” says Paul Rishworth.

“A great sense of fun and mischief accompanied everything Rob Chambers did. I remember him from high school days, winning the public speaking competition each year; as my tutor in Legal System, bright and enthusiastic; as a doctoral student at New College, Oxford, reporting the delights of life and law at Oxford; and as a talented but refreshingly down-to-earth judge – we loved to exchange amusing stories from the bench and the academy. Like his many friends at the Law School, I will miss Rob greatly,” says Ron Paterson.