Professor Peter Watts appointed QC

23 June 2013
Sir Peter Blanchard, Justice Winkelmann, Professor Peter Watts QC, Justice Keane
Sir Peter Blanchard, Justice Winkelmann, Professor Peter Watts QC, Justice Keane

Members of the judiciary and profession joined staff at the Faculty of Law to celebrate the appointment of Professor Peter Watts as Queen’s Counsel. At the drinks reception held on Wednesday 12 June, Dean Andrew Stockley noted that only a few academic lawyers had ever attained this rank and this was a signal achievement and an appropriate recognition of Professor Watts’s outstanding contribution to the law and the work of the courts.

The Attorney-General had announced the appointment of 26 new silks on 17 May, the first new appointments for five years. 12 of the 26 had studied at the Auckland Law School and they included Neil Campbell, a former Associate Professor at the Law School. The rank of Queen’s Counsel is normally reserved for leading barristers and Professor Watts was one of only two of the 26 appointees who had the honour conferred under the royal prerogative for ‘extraordinary contribution to the law’.

The Dean noted that Professor Watts is one of the Commonwealth’s leading academic lawyers. He is internationally acknowledged for his expertise in commercial law, particularly in agency law, company law, equity, the law of restitution, and insolvency law. Professor Watts is the General Editor of Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency, the leading Commonwealth text in its field. Other books include Company Law in New Zealand (co-authored with Neil Campbell and Chris Hare) andDirectors’ Powers and Duties. He has written for many of the Commonwealth's leading law journals and his articles have been cited by judges in the House of Lords, the High Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, and many other Commonwealth courts. He has been asked to advise the New Zealand Law Commission and the Law Commission of England and Wales on a range of private law and commercial law projects. He is regularly asked for opinions in complex commercial cases, is a barrister at Bankside Chambers in Auckland and a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers in London. The Dean noted that the Faculty was immensely proud of everything Professor Watts had achieved and the great contribution he made and was continuing to make to the development of the law.

Professor Watts’s speech in reply thanked those across his time as a student at the University of Canterbury through to the present who had, one way or another, played a role in his developing a national and international profile in commercial law. He singled out in particular, Professor Francis Reynolds, emeritus Professor of Oxford:

"On one of his visits to the Auckland Faculty in 1989, [Francis] encouraged colleagues to submit pieces for the Law Quarterly Review. I submitted a casenote on two New Zealand Court of Appeal decisions, which he liked very much. He then gave me the coveted task of writing the note on the famous restitution decision,Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale (1991), which in turn led to my being his author of choice for analyses of House of Lords and Privy Council decisions in the area of company law and restitution. Then, he recommended in 2008 that I take over Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency, of which he had been author since 1968. It is this prestigious job that has led to my invitation to become a door tenant at Fountain Court, in the Temple, London. So, plainly I am greatly indebted to Francis."