Legal Research Foundation awards recognise outstanding writing

25 July 2017
Legal Research Writing Award winners
From left: Oliver Hailes (University of Otago), Jane Norton (University of Auckland), Joanna Mossop (Victoria University of Wellington), Samuel Johnston (University of Auckland), Greg Severinsen (University of Otago).

A legal text by Lecturer Dr Jane Norton from the Auckland Law School has jointly won this year’s prestigious JF Northey Memorial Book Award.

The award, given for the best book published in 2016 by a New Zealand-based author or authors, carries a prize of $2,000.

Dr Norton’s work Freedom of Religious Organisations, published by Oxford University Press (OUP) received the award alongside another OUP publication, The Continental Shelf Beyond 200 Nautical Miles, written by Joanna Mossop.

The adjudicators, who are anonymous and comprise distinguished members of the legal profession, said entries were of an exceptionally high standard and canvassed a variety of topics this year.

Commenting on Freedom of Religious Organisations, the adjudicators said Dr Norton’s work dealt with “a very topical issue… Western democracies are now very diverse, religiously as well as ethically. Terrorist acts within Western democracies have put in issue whether the freedom of religious expression, and religious freedoms, rights and immunities, should be curtailed.

"This scrupulous work of scholarship, which extends by analogy to New Zealand, elucidates the extent to which religious organisations are free to order their own affairs and to govern their memberships and members".

Dr Norton joined the Auckland Law School from the United Kingdom where she completed her doctorate at Balliol College, Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar and was then a lecturer at Birmingham Law School. Prior to living in Oxford she was an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School on a Fulbright Scholarship and a litigator in a large New York commercial law firm. Jane has also been a Judges' Clerk at the Auckland High Court and is a graduate of the University of Auckland.

Student Samuel Johnston won the Unpublished Undergraduate Student Paper Award for his work The Introduction of Land Tax in New Zealand in 1878. The Award which carries a prize of $1,000 is given to the best 2016 unpublished student paper between 10,000 and 18,000 words.

The adjudicators said “As New Zealand, and particularly Auckland, struggles with the property boom and the inability of young New Zealanders to obtain a first home, a piece on the history of Land Tax is timely… The article details the philosophical underpinning of the Land Tax and the development of the policy that led to its introduction. It provides a comprehensive, thoroughly researched account of the history, underlying policy and operation of the land tax… It was a fascinating story and a joy to read.”

Johnston completed the work as the dissertation towards an LLB (Hons) degree, supervised by Professor Michael Littlewood. Johnston said "I am grateful to Professor Littlewood for his excellent lectures on tax law and for being a phenomenal dissertation supervisor." 
He is currently studying for an LLM at the University of Auckland.