High Court Justice Hugh Williams

Justice WILLIAMS, John Hugh


Officially retired

Professional Data      2010 Judge Survey Score (1-10)  Ranking (out of 60)

Postion & Titles: QC, Past president MDLS and NZLS,
erstwhile Chancellor for Massey
University (political appointment)
Palmerston North City Councillor
Judge of:  High Court, Auckland 1997

***Officially retired in 2010 **

Previously a Master in the High Court before full judge appointment
Specializations and Professional Interests: Criminal / Commercial List Judge
Professional Comments: Stoic and attentive on the bench but takes few notes. Average to below average intellegence.  Lack of notes, combined with his advanced age, could explain why he quite often gets it wrong. Prone to vacillating, changing his mind and rulings when confronted with obvious discrepencies. Sometimes cites ‘facts’ not in evidence and legal clauses that don’t exist in support. His indecisiveness and overall lack of judicial prudence make him a poor judge, ill-suited to determine any but the easiest cases. One upshot from his long tenor on the bench is that many lawyers now use his rulings (those not challenged on appeal) as precedent in arguing against existing law in current cases.  Strongly advise taking a digital tape recorder to protect yourself if you must appear before this judge. (see below)
Background / Education: LLB degree from Auckland University. Came to Auckland from Palmerston North where he had one time been a city councillor. Politically connected past president of the Manawatu District Law Society and the New Zealand Law Society. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel in the 1990’s. One of the more secretive judges. Seems at first glance to be a criminal expert, but he also sits on the Commercial List. Williams represented Wellington A at rugby 1958-1960 and 1962-63. He was a lawyer who defended the Massey Student magazine “Masskerade” in 1969 and he went on to become Massey University’s Chancellor before his appointment as a Master in the High Court.
Degrees: LLB, Auckland
Admitted to the Bar: 1963
Company Involvements:  Long, often clandestine, relationships with some of New Zealand’s powerful business people.  Hugh Williams will bend over backwards to massage the law and facts to protect his vested interests.

Personal Data

Born: 23/09/1939
New Zealand
Sex: Male
Married: 1975 (2)
JOY, second wife. (first wife:Lois Yvonne Williams)
Children: 2 stepchildren
Interesting Relationships and Coincidences: Has a long history of advocacy positions that carry over to his attitude on the bench, as demonstrated in the following quote: “Massey University chancellor and High Court judge Hugh Williams told a graduation ceremony last week that if the student loans continue as they are, then they pose a future problem for NZers … similar to that of trying to provide for an aging population.”Source – The Dominion 29 May 1995 “Judge speaks out on student debt levels”.

It is also very difficult to get Williams off a case where he has a personally vested interest, as evidenced by a National Business Review article that ran in 2002, saying in part, Williams “is a close friend of NeuronZ investor Jenny Gibbs”.Williams J nonetheless refused to recuse himself from hearing the case,“ruling that the shareholding details published by the NBR were irrelevant… Mrs Gibbs is one of a number of prominent venture capitalists – including NeuronZ chairman Robin Congreve, Geoff Ricketts, Chris Mace, Roderick Deane, Stephen Tindall and the Todd Family – who have money in NeuronZ. Justice Williams banned all media coverage of a related contempt of court action argued before him in Auckland High Court in March. Before then even the names of the parties were suppressed. At the time Justice Williams rejected a bid by NBR to report the contempt case and to have access to evidence. Justice Williams last week found overwhelmingly in favour of NeuronZ in the contempt of court action against Lloyd and Fern Tran, fining the couple a total of $20,000 and ordering them to pay what are expected to be substantial costs.”

Miscellaneous: Twice married, fit for his age, walks with solemn authority. Very concerned about his image and personally vain by nature. Puts considerable value on his own appearance and of those who appear before him.


However, after a High Court judgement of Justice Hugh Williams critical of the government’s handling of judicial process became public on December 19 2003,
www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0407/S00185.htm – 57k – CachedSimilar pages

Scoop: Govt Moves To Ban HumanRights From Security Review

(made in December 2003) where Justice Hugh Williams ruled that the Inspector General must consider Mr Zaoui’s human rights if justice is to be done.
www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0410/S00144.htm – 45k – CachedSimilar pages


File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
for the South Island. I convey apologies from the Chief Justice and Justice. Hugh Williams who, for many years, has chaired the Courthouse Design Committee
www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/from/documents/Speech09-02-2007.pdf – Similar pages

Law Commission – Speeches and Papers

Commentary by Hon Justice Hugh Williams. PDF download 2004 Session 8A – In Search of an Accommodating Courts Architecture (PDF 378 KB) | view as html
www.lawcom.govt.nz/SpeechPaper.aspx – 49k – CachedSimilar pages


File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
REMOTE AND INTIMATE JUSTICE:. CHALLENGES FOR COURTS OF THE FUTURE. Commentary by Justice Hugh Williams. High Court of New Zealand
www.lawcom.govt.nz/…/b44cba59-a134-45ad-a691-efb80d3d9dd9//Session%208A%20-%20Williams%20J%20comment.pdf – Similar pages

I lied for friendship, says Tua’s ex-manager – 12 Feb 2005

Justice Hugh Williams is expected to release a decision this month. In his own words. Justice Hugh Williams: We don’t need that.
www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10010768 – 33k – CachedSimilar pages

Judge imposes media gag in NeuronZ case – NBR Personal Investor

Justice Hugh Williams ordered NBR reporters from his court but made no similar order to exclude members of the public. At press time yesterday the court was
www.sharechat.co.nz/features/nbr/article.php/2f701d38 – 20k – CachedSimilar pages

Judge close to NeuronZ stays on – NBR Personal Investor article

According to a source close to the case, Justice Hugh Williams (62), a former Massey University chancellor, is a close friend of NeuronZ investor Jenny
www.sharechat.co.nz/features/nbr/article.php/dc97e09b – 19k – CachedSimilar pages

Massey News Article |

This message came from High Court Judge, the Honorable Justice Hugh Williams at Massey University’s last Palmerston North College of Business Graduation
news.massey.ac.nz/2002/news_release/16_05_02i.html – 32k – CachedSimilar pages

Peninsula Bay turns into dust bowl

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
a covenant and Justice Hugh Williams has now decided against Mr. ClearyandhisproposedBigRiverParadiseLtddevelopment. The Australian mountain climber
www.lakewanaka.co.nz/files/22%20March%2007%20Pages%201-5.pdf – Similar pages