CaseLoad's coverage of the stellar High Court career of dashing celebrity judge Simon John Eisdell Moore, QC, was graciously acknowledged by His Honour at a Northern Club black-tie knees-up the other night.

In leaping to his feet to thank all and sundry for turning on a slap-up hooley, Justice Moore couldn't wait to pay particular tribute to CaseLoad's generous and respectful observations that he had not appeared to have done much judging in his first year in harness.

"His Honour quoted from CaseLoad - and how you described his workload and cases since appointment," said a well-placed source, on condition of anonymity.

"Nothing controversial - but at least you got a mention ..."

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As CaseLoad noted last October, some of the Auckland-based judge's judging was in remote places such as Rotorua and Whangarei - work other judges refer to as "chicken sh*t but some poor s*d has to do it."

His Honour also enjoyed CaseLoad's constant retelling of the story of how long it took him to get into his formal judging regalia.

CaseLoaders will recall how - left in the hands of Auckland district law society boss Suzy Keppel - Justice Moore's congratulatory bash got mysteriously double-booked in October and had to be canned at the last minute.

When introduced by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias last March as New Zealand's first celebrity judge, many folk looked forward to Justice Moore's flair and flamboyance enhancing the often underplayed decorative aspects of judging.

"As well as getting the right camera angle, Simon also knows a bit about law - which is always an advantage in a judge," a senior legal figure who asked not to be named, confided.

"And Jim, barber to numerous judges, does a stunning job on His Honour's luxuriant mane ..."

Levity aside, Justice Moore's exposure to criminal trials has been minimal.

Much of his work so far has involved family disputes, custody issues, trust breaches, minor civil wrangles, a few criminal sentencings and minor appeals from the district court.

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In putting right an unchallenged case involving a modest unsigned will, he delivered a sensible and compassionate decision in favour of a kind lady who selflessly cared for an old chap in his end years.

But back to the other night.

The fine detail of exactly who said what about whom at the long overdue "do" could not be recalled by some present, but those who did remember where they were reckoned it was a good show.

"Didn't actually notice you there, CaseLoad ... A more pressing engagement?" quizzed Our Man At The Bar, wiping A Certain Ex-Judge's smeared lipstick from his wing collar.

"Detained for questioning, more like it," said The Scunner.

Footnote 1: Justice Moore took delight in telling CaseLoad that one of the things he was going to enjoy about being a High Court judge is that when he next saw Jock Anderson, "You will have to call me Sir."

Footnote 2: Intimate details of an exclusive after-match function hosted by a pair of Mature Lady Briefs at the Ladies & Escorts Lounge have been permanently suppressed.

Are lawyers only in it for the money???

CaseLoaders wonder if recent public hand-wringing about an increase of self-represented litigants in the High Court shrouds a deeper worry closer to legal wallets.

Chief High Court judge Helen Winkelmann kicked off the angst last year (CaseLoad December 5) and was followed by Queen's Counsel Frances Joychild and Jim Farmer (CaseLoad February 20), all gloomily predicting the end of civilised society if the trend continued.

Jim Farmer QC. Photo / NZME.
Jim Farmer QC. Photo / NZME.

Sending shock waves through the profession, Justice Winkelmann even suggested lawyers should cut their fees to keep the work.

"It's not about so-called access to justice," said A Big Bloke At The Next Leaner.

"It's to do with a drop in lawyers' earnings, the ability to afford private school fees and replace the Porsche annually or biennially. Something needs to be done."

Why Supreme Court no match for Privy Council

Three high-profile decisions overturning criminal convictions in the cases of David Bain, Mark Lundy and Teina Pora have fuelled calls for a return to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a court of last resort.

Some folk believe a previous Labour government - driven by then Prime Minister Helen Clark and Attorney-General Margaret Wilson - was wrong to withdraw cases from the Privy Council when New Zealand has such a small pool of transparent and independent appellate legal talent.

Margaret Wilson. Photo / NZPA
Margaret Wilson. Photo / NZPA

Most are agreed the decision to dump the Privy Council in favour of a new Supreme Court was driven purely by blinkered political ideology and had little to do with the law or justice.

Pro-Privy Council advocates say New Zealand has too small a judicial pool - and the pool is too intimately interwined - to produce the clarity and quality of legal independence which the Privy Council has in spades.

They remain particularly critical of the perceived incestuousness of a legal clique which inhabits the environs of the Wellington-based Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

If New Zealand courts got it wrong in Bain, Lundy and Pora, where else might they have blundered that we may never know about?

This does not mean New Zealand needs a quasi-legal bureaucratic jobs-for-the-usual-suspects criminal cases review commission, as sought by politicians of the Left.

Any thought of that should be quashed. The law is best left to judges, and while there are some good ones in New Zealand, the best brains sit with the Privy Council.

A visiting QC chews the fat

Ever a gentleman, Wellington-based Queens Counsel Matt McClelland dropped by Vulcan Lane the other day for a natter.

Of impeccable breeding, young Matt's done rather well for himself since his early tentative days among the denizens of the Christchurch magistrate's court.

Now a leading light in Harbour Chambers, along with mega-star QCs Chris Hodson (Mr Dame Justice Lowell Goddard) Hugh Rennie and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Matt was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2014.

He was admitted in 1976 after graduating LLB with Hons from Canterbury University and started work at McClelland Wood McKay & McVeigh (his dad's firm) before switching to Weston Ward & Lascelles.

After a six-year stint in the Hong Kong Attorney General's Chambers, Matt returned to partnership at Kensington Swan, before joining Harbour Chambers in 2003.

The son of distinguished Christchurch barrister the late Brian McClelland, QC (whose outstanding career included defending in the Hulme Parker murder trial) Matt specialises in the rarified fields of public law, judicial review, censorship, defamation, resource management, official information, intellectual property, medical and health and civil and commercial litigation.

It was good to catch up with a nice bloke who had big shoes to follow and did it his way.

Judge pulls out of logo wrangle

Ex-solicitor general turned High Court judge David Collins has withdrawn from a squabble over whether a Chinese company's use of a logo is too much like the famous Mercedes Benz three-pointed star.

Justice Collins recused himself from hearing an appeal this month by Mercedes parent company Daimler AG against a decision of the assistant commissioner of trademarks, until after the Court of Appeal rules on a related appeal in July.

High Court judge David Collins.
High Court judge David Collins.

In a decision appealed by Daimler, the judge earlier ruled that the Chinese Sany Group's "mark" was not visually or conceptually similar to the Daimler star.

Daimler argued that Justice Collins failed to apply the correct test when comparing the marks; that he placed too much emphasis on the difference between the marks, and that he was wrong to find that Daimler's marks were visually and conceptually different from Sany's.

Justice Collins was due to hear an appeal concerning Sany's mark and Daimler's mark but Daimler was concerned the judge's earlier findings precluded him from hearing this aspect on appeal.

Justice Collins accepted that the similarity in the issues between the appeal which he previously decided and the appeal he was due to hear this month might "reasonably lead an informed fair-minded lay person" to believe he might not be impartial.

Gossip must stop

The identity of a former senior judicial figure's son who is in bother with the law society over allegations of bad attitude and general bungling is being bandied about willy-nilly. (

CaseLoad February 20, 2015.

)

The chap wants permanent name suppression so this gossip must stop.

Next time

More revelations from Beneath The Wig.