Court of Appeal Justice Rhys Harrison

Court of Appeal Justice HARRISON

Professional Data:

2014 Judge Survey Score (1-10):  6.6    Ranking (out of 62):   60th

Judge Rhys Harrison
Judge Rhys Harrison

Postion & Titles: QC, Commercial List Judge
Judge of: New Zealand Court of Appeal, 2010 Previously Auckland High Court, since 2001
Specializations and Professional Interests: Commercial list, Insurance defence, white collar criminal defence
Professional Comments: Harrision J is prone to legal shenanigans.  Personality ranges from quiet cleverness to bellicose in manner.  Extremely perceptive in Court but will often pretend he has not heard something or cannot understand certain facts if to do so assists his goal of ruling a certain way.  Generally quite courteous to counsel appearing.  At the same time, Rhys Harrison J expects almost complete deference.

Justice Harrison has widely demonstrated his willingness to be a law onto himself, dismissing cases on minor technical points when it suits his fancy and, conversely,  ‘finessing’ fundamental laws to assist advancement of majorly flawed claims and defenses for his many mates.  Can be personally meanspirited but will conversely (and perversely) tend to project this personal trait through his judgments on litigants he wants to discredit.

Justice Harrison’s long tenure on the bench and vocal opinions have provided a unique insight into his character.  He has been the subject of at least two lawyer complaints to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner for allegedly racist views, with one lawyer submitting seven sentencing decisions of Harrison J in support of the allegation Harrison is harsher in sentencing foreign born New Zealanders.

In a 2013 Law Society tribunal case, barrister Evgeny Orlov was found to have acted scandalously for claiming Justice Harrison is racist and knowingly turned a child over to custody of a paedophile.  Investigate Magazine had earlier reported on the Judge’s misconduct, stating “The most stunning aspect of the whole story, however, is why on earth a man with Paul Copeland’s psychiatric history, a man who raped his own sister and tried to murder his wife with a bow and arrow, a man who enjoyed killing cats in the cruellest possible ways – why such a man would be allowed anywhere near a child“.

Despite his suspect character, Justice Rhys Harrison is a confident, bright man who methodically considers his approach.  Still, he places secrecy of Court proceedings a high priority to prevent his missteps becoming publicly known.   Harrison J typically did not allow recording of his proceedings.  In a 2008 hearing he was caught on tape stating “Court of Record” has nothing to do with keeping an accurate record (see below).

Where court transcripts do exist, Justice Harrison has been behind many decisions denying court transcripts to parties, including as a Court of Appeal judge as recently as 13 September 2011, in the litigant-obscured appeal of “AJF” – an appellant who alleged court improprieties.

Justice Rhys Harrison suffers from a significant narcissistic personality disorder, with origins in a childhood where the young Rhys was overburdened with adult responsibilities which impeded normal maturity. The condition has become full blown in an environment where the mature Judge Harrison is not accountable to anyone, at the same time he is bowed to in court and deferred to in public settings.

Harrison J has tremendous influence in the small New Zealand Court, having been helpful in promoting a significant number of appointments of his judicial peers since his own appointment. Harrison J’s many conflicts of interest raise just suspicions as to his basic judicial fitness.  Prior to his judicial appointment, he was lawyer for some of New Zealand’s worst white collar criminals.  Rhys Harrision viciously pursued Member of Parliament Winston Peters for publicly exposing the largest known tax scam in New Zealand’s history, which was run by some of Harrison’s legal clients with the alleged complicity of Inland Revenue Department and the Serious Fraud Office.  It was known locally as “the winebox scandal” because the Member entered Parliament with his evidence in a winebox.

In the end, a Commission of Inquiry concluded there was no substance to Mr Peters allegations or his evidence notwithstanding tax law specialist Dr Anthony Molloy QC’s analysis to the contrary.  Dr Molloy went on to publish a book Thirty Pieces of Silver, which provided a trust law scholar’s view on the scandal and cover up.

Harrison J’s hypocrisy has few limits.  As a practising lawyer, Rhys Harrison often broadcast that while defamation silenced false speech it “unquestionably silenced true speech”.  However, as a judge he has capitalised on his position to alter the court record on more than several occasions.

Rhys Harrison is considered to be a top “gate keeper” in preventing legitimate claims against the Crown in the High Court.  He has no reluctance in giving the most spurious reasons for striking out cases.  But he does not stop there.  In 2008, Harrison J awarded $11,000 costs against the lawyer after striking out a Bill of Rights claim against New Zealand Child Youth and Family Services from a couple whose three children were seized because the father was an alcoholic who was coming out of prison for DUI.  In that case, Judge Harrison did not have an application before him for costs: he took it upon himself to make the order against counsel.  The order was overturned on appeal but the message learned by the legal community was the Law Society remained silent.  Lawyers now legitimately fear advocating for clients the judge does not like.

In a September 2015 appeal to the Supreme Court of New Zealand in Creser v Creser, the appeal grounds relied upon judge incapacitation in challenging a chambers ruling of Harrison at the Court of Appeal.  The submissions relied upon Harrison’s Judgment to plead Harrison J did not understand his jurisdiction nor that of the appellant to bring the appeal and then recorded the merit challenge as an attempt to “amend” a previous ruling despite the application seeking to defend that judgment.

Background / Education: Rhys Harrison J graduated LLB from Victoria University of Wellington in 1971. He worked for McAlister Mazengarb before working a year in Kampala, Uganda. He returned to Auckland and was for some years a partner in Milne Meek (later McElroy Milne).

Harrison J went to the bar in 1988 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1994. He was appointed a judge of the High Court in Auckland in 2001.

Degrees: LLB, Victoria University of Wellington 1971
Admitted to the Bar: 1971
Company Involvements: Rhys Harrison is too clever to leave his fingerprints on his many company involvements.  He strongly considers these connections his own private business and guards this information ferociously.

Personal Data

Born: 1947 Sex: Male
Married: Children:
Interesting Relationships and Coincidences: Rhys Harrison is the brother of lawyer Geoff Harrison.  Geoff has his own history of trading his services for sexual favours with at least one of his clients.  Though this case is fairly well known in New Zealand, Judge Rhys Harrison stepped in to kill the professional complaints which eventuated.

In 2003, Justice Harrison failed to disclose his past association with McElroys or recuse himself in a case that saw Michael Stiassny as a litigant before him. Stiassny was and is a top client of McElroys. Harrison ruled in favour of Stiassny and took the extraordinary step of ruling that the creditors pursuing Stiassny were running an illegal company.  The principal of this company took his business (and jobs) off-shore.

Miscellaneous: In a case against the Crown in early 2008, Rhys Harrison J refused repeated applications to disclose the extent of his personal connections with the defendants and twice refused to allow accurate recording of the proceedings.  When challenged that His Honour’s position undermined the Court as a ‘Court of record’, Harrison J responded Court of Record’ is a phrase coined many, many centuries ago before recording devices came into existence.  The term has nothing to do with (accurate recording of Court hearings).”     Harrison ended up sealing the case file to prevent public access.


Justice Rhys Harrison graduated LLB from Victoria University of Wellington in 1971. He worked for McAlister Mazengarb before working a year in Kampala, – 44k – CachedSimilar pages

2006 Greg Everard Memorial Moot Held in the Auckland High Court

From left to right: Justice Rhys Harrison, Frances Everard, Professor Peter Watts, Louise Everard, Madeleine Everard, and the finalists: Rachel Mason, – 13k – CachedSimilar pages

2006 – Faculty of Law – The University of Auckland

The final of the Greg Everard Memorial Moot was held on Wednesday 16 August at the High Court of Auckland before the Honourable Justice Rhys Harrison. >> – 33k – CachedSimilar pages [ More results from ]

Scoop: – 16 February 2007

A large bouquet this week for Justice Rhys Harrison, the judge who sentenced gun shop intruder Ricky Beckham to jail earlier this month. – 44k – CachedSimilar pages

Scoop: Zaoui Lawyers Seek StandDown For Inspector General

Much of today’s proceedings, heard before two High Court judges, Justice Peter Salmon and Justice Rhys Harrison, concerned comments Greig made in an – 44k – CachedSimilar pages [ More results from ]


Passage to India

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML Honourable Justice rhys Harrison. the Greg everard memorial moot left to right: Justice rhys Harrison, Frances everard, professor peter Watts,…/about/newsevents/publications/university%20news/Past%20issues/2006/uninews06_16.pdf – Similar pages

Database debacle returns to court – 15 Feb 2006 – Information

After a four-day hearing in the High Court at Auckland last August, Justice RhysHarrison dismissed RPNZ’s case and issued a judgment criticising RPNZ chief – 26k – CachedSimilar pages

Recreational fishers win review of quotas – New Zealand news on

In a reserved judgment yesterday, Justice Rhys Harrison said the Government “erred” when making decisions in 2004 and 2005 on allocation of kahawai. – Similar pages

Recreational fishers claim victory | NATIONAL | NEWS |

On Thursday, Justice Rhys Harrison says Pope rejected advice to review bag catch limits for recreational fishers, and that he “acted irrationally” when – 57k – CachedSimilar pages

New Zealand Herald

In a relatively rare move Justice Rhys Harrison several times today said he was worried that a man who defended himself against an attacker armed with a – 23k – CachedSimilar pages