Legal fraternity mourns 'outstanding' judge

By Edward Gay, Andrew Koubaridis

Justice Robert Chambers was known for his humour and charm. Photo / Supplied
Justice Robert Chambers was known for his humour and charm. Photo / Supplied

The legal fraternity will gather in Auckland next Monday to farewell Supreme Court judge Robert Chambers, who died suddenly in his sleep this week.

Justice Chambers' funeral will be held at the Auckland Town Hall and is expected to be attended by a large number of fellow judges and lawyers.

Justice Chambers, 59, sat on the Supreme Court and died peacefully in his sleep in Wellington on Tuesday night.

Auckland Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, QC, a good friend, described Justice Chambers as "an extraordinary talent" who had so much more to give.

"His strengths were his ability to connect to people using his humour, his charm and his gregarious nature ... He leaves the legal profession, quite frankly, shattered."

Those sentiments were echoed by the Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias to the New Zealand Law Society, who all expressed their sadness and their shock.

Dame Sian Elias said: "This is an enormous loss to the judiciary, and devastating blow to his family, especially his wife Deb," she said, referring to Justice Chambers' wife Deborah Hollings, QC. "Justice Chambers had a career in the law of great distinction before he came to the bench, where he showed himself a jurist of great ability, diligence, and humanity," she said.

New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said the legal community would be greatly saddened.

"Justice Chambers was an outstanding judge.

"His appointment to the Supreme Court last year was a natural progression in a career of high achievement," Mr Moore said.

"Right from his graduation from Auckland University with LLB (Hons) in 1975 it was clear that he was going to make a significant contribution to New Zealand's justice system. As a barrister and Queen's Counsel he was also active in advocating for and representing the interests of the legal profession."

Mr Moore said Justice Chambers' career had been cut tragically short.

"When he was appointed to the Supreme Court it was a fitting recognition of the reputation and standing he had acquired as a judge of the Court of Appeal and, earlier, the High Court."

A minute's silence was held in at least one court room yesterday as a mark of respect to Justice Chambers.

Justice Robert Chambers

• Graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Law with Honours in 1975, and gained a doctorate from Oxford University in the United Kingdom three years later.
• Practised as a barrister in 1981 and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1992.
• Appointed a High Court judge in 1999 and Court of Appeal judge in 2004. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in December, 2011.

- NZ Herald

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